Foundation/Local Chapters/United States/Elections/2020/Election to the Board/Candidate Answers

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Answers to Community Questions for 2020 Candidates

Dear Candidates, thank you for standing for election! You will have the opportunity to post answers to the questions starting Friday January 31 until elections end February 9,2020. It is your choice to answer all the questions or just a few of them. Please answer where indicated below.

Contents

Do you think OSM-US should pursue becoming a Local Chapter officially recognized by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF)?

Alyssa Wright

I appreciate the passion and persistence of both the US board and OSMF in helping make OSM-US official chapter status a reality. For me, this year long discussion represents a mutual commitment in making chapter status legally defined in equitable ways. Determining that balance of legal equity, has been a multi-year "saga" that I hope is resolved soon.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

I am not very well informed on the matter, but like my fellow candidates, I appreciate the efforts of both the OSMUS Board and the OSMF. I believe becoming a local chapter would be great for visibility to engage best with the Foundation. However, I am aware the OSMUS Board could lose some freedom and rights in doing so. If a proper agreement can be reached, where OSMUS is not losing more than what is gaining, then in short, yes.

Martijn van Exel

Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: I think OSM US has always been operated at the forefront of innovation in OSM—organizing increasingly ambitious annual conferences, encouraging nourishing and constructive community dialog with modern platforms, moderation, and a code of conduct. The most recent example OSM US set was hiring an Executive Director. We can and should disseminate these innovations to peer Local Chapters, and learn from them as well. When on the OSMF board, I worked on creating a platform for Local Chapters to have these interactions, and actively pursued signing on more Local Chapters (Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland). We also need to keep working on building a formal and closer relationship with the OSMF. Becoming a Local Chapter is not a silver bullet, but will help with these things, and apart from that, as one of the more prominent local communities we should be setting an example.

Jonah Adkins

It's a bit complicated - I think being an officially recognized chapter is important, as long as the US organization doesn't give up its rights in the process.

Jubal Harpster

Yes. I think the OSM-US can better represent the interests of the US mapping community by being recognized as an official chapter. Having more organized local chapters working together can help grow new mappers globally.

Minh Nguyen

I agree in principle that OSMUS should become a local chapter and I support the executive director's ongoing efforts to make it happen. Regardless of the legitimate concerns that have slowed down the process so far, OSMUS's nuanced current status could create unnecessary uncertainty in the future as we grow the organization and more actively represent the OSM project. Our engagement with the global community shouldn't stop at the point of becoming a local chapter. Given our focus on the U.S., we can be bolder than the OSMF in trying new approaches; a formal status within the OSMF makes it more likely for others to follow the example we set.

Steven Johnson


Do you support the proposed amendment to the OpenStreetMap-US Bylaws (extending board terms)?

Alyssa Wright

Yes. I think it is important to bring new faces, expertise, and experience to the Board leadership of OSM-US. I believe this structure change with help support this work.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

Yes, I do support the amendment. I believe that solutions tackled on by Boards take time, and to see these flourish it is crucial to have the same members for a period longer than a year. And, in parallel, I also think it is important to diversify the Board every two years or so to have new minds with fresh and innovative ideas.

Martijn van Exel

There should be limits to the amount of consecutive terms a board member can serve, and a term should be longer than one year. Two years is a good length, it gives the board member time to really follow through on their stated objectives. Board members should be able to stand for re-election once. After that, a cooling-off period of one term would be in order. As far as I can tell, this mostly aligns with the amendment put forward by the current Board.

Jonah Adkins

Yes!

Jubal Harpster

Yes. I think extending the board term and putting limits on the time served strikes a good balance between the time required to tackle complex projects and getting fresh perspectives in subsequent boards.

Minh Nguyen

Yes, but I respect the voters' decision and would be happy to serve either way. As things stand, candidates for the board face a dilemma: stand for such big ideas that all one can claim after one term is to have "laid the groundwork", or stand on too small or vague a platform to get elected. The increased term length goes hand in hand with term limits, because we don't want the organization to become too dependent on the tireless efforts of a few individuals (much as we appreciate their service).

Steven Johnson


If elected, would you be willing to serve as Treasurer?

Alyssa Wright

Yes. But no one will replace Ian.

Martijn van Exel

It’s not my favorite role but I’d consider it. If I remember correctly, a lot of the day-to-day work to do with organization finances is done by an external accountant already. I am in favor of outsourcing as much non-strategic work as possible.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

Accounting is not my forte, although I do work with numbers. If needed, I would be happy to help.

Jonah Adkins

I'm self admittedly not a numbers person, but will serve in any role required of me.

Jubal Harpster

Yes. I have no unique qualifications here but happy to help.

Minh Nguyen

Unfortunately I have no experience in this area, but I would consider it if no one else steps up.

Steven Johnson


What will you do on the board that you couldn't do as a regular member of the OSM community?

Alyssa Wright

I could wax poetic about this, but being part of the strategic planning with Maggie on the long-term sustainability of OSM-US has been incredibly rewarding. I believe my experience help to scale startups from a handful of founders to full staff alongside building various Open Source community engagements and business models (most recently with the Open Source Collective and Sustain events) has offered unique contribution in the OSM US strategic planning process. I hope to continue with such contribution of perspective and experience.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

I am believe in the OSMUS Community, especially because it is one that welcomed me and gave me a sense of belonging. I have a voice, I have learned thru it, and I have helped on perhaps the coolest and most important opensource project of our time: The Open Street Map! By being a member I would have more exposure to reach others and help to maintain and enforce this sense of community.

Martijn van Exel

Hiring people if needed, making budget decisions, acting in a formal capacity when communicating with gov, corp, OSMF.

Jonah Adkins

See answer to next question!

Jubal Harpster

For the past couple of years I've helped fundraise on behalf to the OSM-US without any formal affiliation. Having a formal role might help lesson the confusion between my day job and volunteering for the OSM-US.

I've been involved with HOT from the beginning of that organization and have also worked extensively with companies using and contributing to OSM. I think having a role on the board can help these organizations coordinate more closely with OSM-US.

Minh Nguyen

As I wrote in my position statement, a seat on the board is a platform to steer the organization and community in a positive direction, to amplify activities I undertake as an individual community member regardless. More concretely, that means participating earnestly in the strategic planning process; advising the executive director on communications, outreach, and fundraising opportunities; and advocating for the whole community's needs, not only my personal pet projects, in global OSM discussion venues.

Steven Johnson


For current board members seeking re-election, list the top 3 things you have helped achieve on the board and your role in these achievements. Please be specific.

Alyssa Wright

Hi! I have been really passionate about driving our OSMUS leadership in a local and global context. From the technological innovations this community creates to the quality of edits and dialogue to the authentic voice we bring to the world, I think our work is a model of open source impact for many. I have helped to put on local mapathons, represent OSMUS in a larger platform of open source sustainability, supported donor efforts in the OS ecosystem, including an Indeed FOSS contributor fund contribution and the Open Source Collective. I have also worked to bring a strategic professionalism with Maggie as ED.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

N/A

Martijn van Exel

N/A

Jonah Adkins

Most importantly to me is hiring and empowering our Executive Director - this has helped our organization immensely over the last year. Second, I would say outreach with the community as board member, yes one can do this without being a board member - but it does put some officially behind when networking with prospective users, donors, or mappers. Finally, strategic planning - being able to guide the organization in this manner is both rewarding and important.

Jubal Harpster

N/A

Minh Nguyen

The board makes decisions collectively rather than as individual directors, so there's a limit to how much I can take credit for anything in particular. Since the question asks for specificity, here are some things that come to mind:

  • Increased transparency by promptly posting monthly board meeting minutes to the wiki
  • Got folks to give OSMUS and the U.S. community a second look after discussions at State of the Map in Heidelberg
  • Provided statistics to help keep discussions going with potential partner agencies

But these are perhaps minor activities compared to hiring Maggie as the executive director on a permanent basis, organizing this year's and next year's State of the Map U.S., and crafting a strategic plan for the organization. The board works most efficiently when its directors reach consensus and work together on shared goals, so I think it's important to evaluate incumbents on the broader picture as well.

Steven Johnson


For current board members seeking re-election, looking back at the stated goals in your previous position statement / manifesto, how would you judge your own success?

Alyssa Wright

I have been flexible and responsive. In that way, my goals reflect who we are as an organization, where Open Source stands as a technology ecosystem, and what it means to bring on paid staff. I judge my success to by my ability to adapt with mindfulness to these shifting waters. AND, I believe OSMUS is in a better position than ever to achieve remarkable impact. I credit that to all of us and I hope my work has supported that work.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

N/A

Martijn van Exel

N/A

Jonah Adkins

My goals as board member haven't changed from previous years, this year I'm building off of those to continue all the efforts im passionate about as a board member: inclusion, diversity, and building tools for the US community member.

Jubal Harpster

N/A

Minh Nguyen

My position statement for the by-election nine months ago remains relevant today. In this year's position statement, I'm framing it as part of a broader vision of building bridges within the community.

OSMUS does a better job today in staying in touch with its members, between the board meeting minutes that I've been publishing as secretary and the monthly newsletter that Maggie puts out as the executive director. I had planned on helping out with the virtual mappy hours, which I'm thankful to Martijn for hosting, but the series is currently on hiatus. If we reboot the series, I'm keen on finding ways to mix things up a bit.

I've ensured that developing resources for community members is on the roadmap for OSMUS. I've begun categorizing import documentation here on the wiki as part of taking stock of what's been tried so far. Going forward, as OSMUS talks with potential partner agencies and organizations, compiling a field guide or case study will be an obvious component of any importing that results. In parallel, we're starting to get the ball rolling on a website redesign, and I'm giddy about the opportunity to get a U.S.-style renderer developed as part of that effort.

Forging relationships between OSM/OSMUS and other community-led organizations is a long-term goal, well suited for an eventualist like me. We've made halting progress on some fronts. I guess it isn't so much different than forging a relationship with OSMF, except without legalities raising the stakes. In all these discussions, I've been a voice for seeking alignment.

It's worth pointing out that, as OSMUS grows beyond just a board of directors, the board will increasingly delegate, advise, and supervise the organization's various initiatives. At the same time, I continue to be personally involved in the day-to-day affairs of the project as a community member. It can sometimes be difficult to separate board activities from ordinary contributor activities, but on the bright side, that means I can help keep the organization somewhat grounded as it grows.

Steven Johnson


In the last year, how active have you been in the OSM community? What efforts have you made to support and/or grow OpenStreetMap in the US?

Alyssa Wright

I have been active in behind the scenes, moving from direct community engagement to more strategic thinking of growth. I think about fundraising development and opportunities for OSMUS to continue to grow not only in numbers, but in the application of our work. I want to see OSM involved with every technology innovation, because every innovation is localized by nature. I want to see our community structure an inspiration to others in the Open Source field, because our community sets a high standard. I have worked to grow a sustainable platform for OSMUS to thrive.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

Last year I mostly focused on researching ways OSM could be useful to mapping the curb. The map is static, sure, but the diverse uses of attributes are chanigng and will continue to change, so we should be aware of this and figure out ways to keep up as a community. Additionally, I'm a pusher for mapping on OSMS and always using OSM data at work for various transportation projects, ran a workshop with Facebook to teach about their AI-Assisting Mapping which is done on OSM (a mapahton of sorts!), and as always bring it up in conversations with colleagues, Maptimers, and friends. You never know who you can get involved!

Martijn van Exel

As mentioned in the intro, I’ve been chair of the Program Committee for SOTM US, and part of the overall conference organization team. I have continued to run OSM Salt Lake City, hosting two meetings a month on average. While at Telenav, I ran the OpenStreetMap camera lending program for the OSM US community. I did a keynote on OpenStreetMap on GIS day. I tirelessly promote MapRoulette and encourage mappers to create and solve tasks—about half of MapRoulette website traffic originates in the US. I am active on Slack.

Jonah Adkins

I work with OSM data personally and professionally almost daily - in the past year, I've supported import efforts, helped plan the annual State of the Map US conference, curated community led blog posts to our website, and worked with community members to organize and fund mapping parties through our grant program.

Jubal Harpster

Last year I helped raise sponsorship funds for SOTM-US. I'm active in local Seattle OSM groups and act as the organizer and host of semi-annual Seattle based OSM GeoKaraoke. I've volunteered time and support at several corporate mapathons in and around Seattle. I am a strong advocate for OSM as part of my day job, and I continue to be an active contributor myself!

Minh Nguyen

It wouldn't be a questionnaire on a wiki without reference to a grid of very green bathroom tiles that mainly proves I'm addicted to mapping. I specialize in an eclectic mix of armchair mapping, field surveying, and importing. From flags to corn mazes to garbage dumpsters, I intend to challenge preconceptions about what goes in a map, to attract more mappers and users and refocus the discussion away from an unproductive competition between "craft" and "corporate" mappers.

Aside from mapping, I had the privilege of teaching OverpassQL at State of the Map U.S. in Minneapolis and introducing folks to the U.S. community at State of the Map in Heidelberg. I also attended Code for America's Brigade Day event, next door in Oakland, to promote OSM as a project that other local brigades should take up. (Actually I had to bow out of part of the event to attend a board meeting. Talk about synergy!) Speaking of Code for America, I continue to be active in my local brigade, Code for San José, where I help train mappers, plan and execute imports, and advise other projects on how to use OSM. We're always eager for new folks to come out and attend our biweekly hack nights or monthly map nights.

Here on this wiki, I've focused on streamlining templates and improving documentation. It's much easier to announce an event on the global event calendar. Most pages on this wiki, especially the Main Page, now load considerably faster, making it a more practical resource when in-editor help doesn't quite have what you're looking for. The wiki is famously technical, but I'm chipping away at the problem. Sometimes the documentation I write can be arcane, like the bit about inadvertently levitating amusement park rides, but most of it is geared towards a general audience. In recent months, I've compiled an overview of U.S. tagging conventions, a guide to finding tornado sirens, a better definition of a parking aisle, an index of allowed customary units (USA!), and tips on creating Wikidata items about brands, among other things.

I'm pretty active in OSMUS Slack. If you have a question, just holler.

My day job, as an iOS developer at Mapbox, doesn't involve OSM directly. Other than Mapbox generously sending me to conferences, I'm involved in OSM on a personal basis. Mapbox is aware of my affiliation with OSMUS, and I unofficially make myself available to answer my colleagues' technical questions about the project.

Just to be clear, this is a summary of my OSM activities overall. I plan to continue being addicted, holding events, documenting, etc. regardless of the outcome of this election.

Steven Johnson


The OSM US website could use some refreshing, show our mission and goals and list our sponsors. Even incorporate a vector tile slippy map. Who wants to step up with a plan?

Alyssa Wright

This is not a one person job, but I very much agree a redesign needs to be done. I believe a working group and paid design leadership can make this happen and would be excited to help accelerate this work.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

I'm happy to help! Love it when websites have clean, user-friendly refreshers.

Martijn van Exel

While not in my list of priorities, I think a web site refresh would be nice. What *is* in my list of priorities is forming special interest groups, and one for communications, social media or even just the web site makes a lot of sense to me. While the board could provide valuable input, I’d prefer to empower the SIG with the budget and freedom to come up with a plan to present to the board, and execute it. They could decide to use the budget in whatever way they see fit, for example to hire someone to design / develop the site.

Jonah Adkins

Yes! I believe offering US focused tools, data, and maps to the community is very important - we've added this to our strategic plan!

Jubal Harpster

Good idea Glassman. I think we could find some generous developers and designers to help update the web site with some fresh content. For maintaining some OSM vector tiles we might start by asking around our corporate partner ecosystem and see if anyone has this going already. Implementing the stack is not difficult but doing it securely and limiting the number of freeloaders will take some work.

Minh Nguyen

You'll be pleased to hear that OSMUS is putting together a team to redesign the website. Anyone who's interested should get in touch by e-mailing team, “ат”openstreetmap.us.

As a board director, I wouldn't dictate technical details to Maggie or the working group, but I would suggest resources, provide context, and offer advice as necessary to keep the initiative moving in a positive direction.

Steven Johnson


What is your "elevator pitch" (short, quick description) when someone asks: "What is Open Street Map? Why would I use it while Google/Bing/Apple Maps exists?"

Alyssa Wright

It may be overplayed, but the oldie and goodie "OpenStreetMap is the Wikipedia of Maps" translates to many audiences. "Why would I use it while Google/Bing/Apple maps exist"? First, this is a flawed question since Apple and Bing have close ties with OSM map quality. In other words, it is not an either/or. With regards to Google, I would point to the pricing, the agility, cartographic inflexibility, and the competitive bias of its holdings as all important reasons to look at OSM over Google. To scale without the tethers of Google -- to build maps for different scenarios and for different reasons -- is a clear advantage of OSM over Google, Apple and Bing.

Daniela Waltersdorfer J

Want to feel like you're living your print somewhere and making a positive impact? Then you gotta check out OSM and start mapping. OSM is is an opensource mapping portal where anyone and everyone is welcome to map our world. Do not worry or feel intimidated, there are guidances available, and validators to ensure you don't accidentally make an error. The coolest thing is that you can then use this data for humanitarian effort maps, open-source mobility applications, and so much more. It is OPEN SOURCE with so many people contributing!

Martijn van Exel

OpenStreetMap is the free map of the world created by a global community of over a million people like you and me. You can use it for anything you want, the map is easy to edit, and OpenStreetMap is the only map that puts you in control. OpenStreetMap is used by some of the largest tech companies in the world, such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Snapchat and Mapbox.

Jonah Adkins

It's like "Wikipedia" for maps, which is a more common phrase - I also like to emphasize that anyone can edit - if your street is missing or your favorite restaurant is missing, then you can add it - and that's powerful because you have the power to map what's important to you personally.

Jubal Harpster

OSM data can be freely used to create the best rendered basemap globally. OSM is not a commercial service for routing and geocoding. But having free access the data means you can implement scenarios that are not supported by commercial providers. And in places where OSM lacks, you can contribute to improve it!

Minh Nguyen

I give a slightly different pitch depending on who I'm talking to. Sometimes "the Wikipedia of maps" suffices, but often it meets a blank stare because Wikipedia is just another website to them. Since this is an election in the U.S., how about this stump speech?

Ordinary people like you are pitching in to build a worldwide, street-level map that finally {does a good job of representing|has the potential to represent} what's important about your community – and no one controls who uses the map or how. OpenStreetMap is a map of the people, by the people, for the people!

Steven Johnson