Open Eugene Festival | Open Leaders 6
By Chad Sansing
Open Eugene Festival is the first intentional gathering of open enthusiasts in the Eugene Oregon region.
I interviewed Open Leaders 6 participant Mark Davis to learn more about OpenEugene and how you can contribute to the work.
Q: What is The Open Eugene Festival?
A: Originally Open Eugene was an Open Data project exposing data from various local civic sources. I had plenty of support but it became obvious quickly that the scope was too ambitious for the Open Leader 14-week program. Instead I wanted a conversation starter, something to pull together the openly minded folks in the area, such as a conference. Once the conference leadership team formed the focus was on fun! We added “Festival” to the name and Open Eugene Festival was born.
Q: Why did you start Open Eugene?
A: I was part of BarCamp earlier this year and a very popular session was on Open Data. That’s where the name Open Eugene originated. I was hoping to hold onto some of that energy and build in it. We took a lot of inspiration from Open Austin and Hack Oregon. I thought we could do something similar. It felt like a gap, and I like to fill those in when I find them.
Q: Why is right now the right time for this project?
A: Lots of regional folks are working on open initiatives, and that’s great. We don’t currently have a way to discover each other’s work besides the global scale. Now is a great time to get the conversation started locally and see how we can support and contribute to each other’s efforts.
Q: What challenges have you faced working on this project?
A: Following the Working Open methodology makes planning this festival almost like running two projects in parallel. There’s everything that goes into an event on the one hand, and having a leadership team to take on those tasks is awesome. I could definitely not do this alone. On the other hand, being the open leader is time consuming. Providing the supporting structure, calling regular meetings, maintaining the milestones and issues, etc is all work too. The challenge is making time for both and also having a job, life, etc. It’s all great stuff, and really rewarding, but it’s a challenge fitting it all in.
Q: What kind of skills do I need to contribute to your project?
A: Know any sponsors? Just kidding! We have a diverse leadership team that includes event planners, public relations, web developers, people wranglers, etc. We also have a cloud of volunteer artists, open-source software experts, and musicians. If you have a skill, chances are we can find room for you on this project. The more diverse the team, the more interesting the event.
Q: How can others contribute your project?
A: We have two open repos on github. One for the event and one for the website. Just look for “OpenEugene” and you’ll find them in our parent organization, EugeneTech. We tag things with “help-wanted” to try and get the attention of the outside world. During Hacktoberfest, we used that tag and got some help in exchange for t-shirts. It was a kind of magic. You can also submit a project to be included in the festival. We have links to google forms on the website. If you want to do this in your home town, we’ll be publishing everything about the event so you can remix it.
Q: How has the Open Leaders program helped you with your project?
A: I’ve been gathering groups around projects for a few years now with some success. I mostly make it up as I go along, keeping what works and throwing out what doesn’t. The Open Leaders program has given me a set of best practices to follow and a reason why we use the tools we do. Beyond the structure of the course itself the people involved are amazing and supportive. I really feel like I’m building a network of nerdy do-gooders because if this program.
Q: What meme or gif best represents your project?