User:Randyme/2014 OSMF Board Elections Manifesto
There's been a lot of bomb-throwing recently about the current board, including by me in the recent past. So first it's important to acknowledge that everyone is working hard, and we should appreciate them for it. No one volunteers for something and works on it unless they believe they're doing their best. It's also important to note that organizations are made up of people, and sometimes you have a problem with the organization, but you can still appreciate people. I'm running for the board because I believe in the people behind OpenStreetMap, and I believe that if more of those people could actively engage with the Foundation and with OSM's governance, it could make OSM an even more successful project.
Local OSM chapters and HOT have done an amazing job of expanding the OSM user base. This work has, for the most part, operated independently of OSMF. In some ways this is great and makes sense (OSMF shouldn't dictate methods or metrics for local chapter outreach and growth) but unfortunately, the diversity and engagement seen at the local levels hasn't worked its way up to the Foundation. As of right now there are 1.8mm registered OSM users. Of those, admittedly only a fraction regularly and actively contribute, but that fraction is still in the tens of thousands. Meanwhile, a few hundred people are actually members of OSMF, and even fewer participate in the elections themselves. Last year, one board position was won by a mere 57 votes. Similarly, the working groups continue to be the same core group of participants (who do great work!).
I want to improve the diversity of membership within OSMF by reaching out to engaged communities in local chapters and other initiatives (including HOT and organizations like Maptime) because those voices are the lifeblood of the OpenStreetMap project. I want the foundation as a whole to have the same kind of success that these grassroots initiatives have had, and I think that can be achieved in part by emulating the accessible and welcoming tone that those projects set. That requires work on a lot of other things, such as actually implementing transparency and being in active dialogue with Foundation members and OSM users.
Obviously, achieving those goals is itself a massive challenge. Frederick Ramm's manifesto this year painfully illustrates the challenges. I'm not expecting to radically transform how OSMF works in its entirety, certainly not within the timeframe of a single term. Making OpenStreetMap and the foundation a more accessible, democratic project will be a multi-year effort, and will require a lot of help from people currently involved in the organization and those outside it. But I believe the above goals - of improving diversity in membership and leadership by fostering a more accessible, welcoming culture within both - are the right thing to do and will ultimately lead to a more functional organization over the next few years.