The purpose of the US Teams Project is “Teams helping Teams”. In the spirit of community we want to be able to share our knowledge, expertise and wisdom with those following after in establishing Ubuntu communitues across the United States. While I admit that we may not know everything we do have combined years of team leadership under our belts and collectively have some wisdom to share.
As such I want to share some fundamental structural methods for building a LoCo Team while able to avoid the overhead of financial and legal concerns. It should be noted that dealing with finances and legal concerns within a LoCo Team should be avoided whenever possible!
You may wonder how we are able to grow and build a team responsibly without these financial and legal coverings. In the true sense of community of course, by building upon those before us!
In the true sense of Open Source Community we have leveraged established and existing frameworks to extend our reach and build communities. Some of these include holding install-fests in cooperation with existing Linux User Groups at their local Universities. Organizing in this manner absolves the LoCo Team from responsibilities as we are simply participants to the existing group, at the existing groups location. Legal issues arising from an event such as this should be on the shoulders of the University or the location itself. Working with established Community groups for these events absolves LoCo Teams of the responibilities of legal and monetary framework and should be pursued wherever possible. In the true spirit of Ubuntu “we are because the community is”, remember that.
I want to remind established and growing teams that the LoCo project is not here to replace existing Linux User Groups or Special Interest Groups. We are here to improve them. We are here to cooperate with them. We are here to support them in any use, distribution or education concerning Ubuntu and Free Software. We don’t need to create new framework and organizations as many of these already exist. We don’t and should not see ourselves as pioneers in advocating Linux, Free Software and Ubuntu. There are many that came before us. There are many that have put effort into organizing groups, arranging locations and building relationships with entities such as Universities and other public places. There are many that will come after us as well. Let us continue to build on the community around us and celebrate the local cultures and groups that exist.
As an Ubuntu LoCo Project I propose we need to get back to our roots. We need to cooperate and participate instead of try to build anew. Work with existing groups and make them stronger instead of build our own isolated communities.
One of the meanings of Ubuntu itself is “I am who I am because of who we all are” (paraphrasing). If we forget who we all are–if we can’t cooperate with existing groups and build on the shoulders of the giants before us we have lost the spirit of Ubuntu already.
I propose that Ubuntu LoCo Teams need to improve from within. What does this mean? This means start focusing on projects that don’t involve financing or legal protection. There are many, many ways we can build and improve the project without any of these.
What was the last bug you squashed? When was the last time you or your team collectively contributed to an Ubuntu Hug Day? When was the last bug you submitted? There are still hundreds of open bugs in the Ubuntu and related projects. This is a perfect and far-reaching opportunity for LoCo Teams to contribute and improve Ubuntu as a whole.
What was the last wiki or tutorial you wrote? When was the last time you or your team collectively improved the Ubuntu documentation? When was the last time you used the wiki at all? The Ubuntu Community Documentation (help.ubuntu.com/community) can still be much improved. There are still hundreds of documents to be written and other documents to be improved or updated. Contributing, as a Team, to this project benefits Ubuntu as a whole.
When was the last time you worked supporting the Ubuntu Forums? Has your team organized Ubuntu Forums support days? Spending time helping new users or tackling the unanswered posts on the forums continues to educate Ubuntu users around the world.
Has your team contacted or presented at existing LUG meetings? Have you presented on Ubuntu at schools? Have you supported your local LUGS with install-fests (again, at their location, on their terms) when Ubuntu is to be available? Do you make yourselves available on existing LUG mailing lists to support Ubuntu wherever it comes up?
Concerning marketing flyers for events and CD distribution there are also solutions being organized.
The US Teams Project will be structuring a national CD distribution system for teams and individuals that want to participate. This should alleviate part of the financial burden on CD purchases, burning, labeling, etc.
I have also been working with a company (to be announced soon) to provide us with free flyer and marketing material. All bugs are not worked out of this system yet, but free promotional flyers will be made available to every team in time for the 7.10 “Gutsy” release parties.
Remember, improving Ubuntu from within is something that LoCo Teams can and should be participating in. We love Ubuntu, lets make it better. Squash bugs, improve documentation, work with developers, become part of MOTU, improve and support existing user groups and special interest groups. There are dozens of ways we can contribute, none of which require money or legal guidance.
For those times when your team wants a more public event, work with existing organizations. Work with LUGs in your state. Work with University CS departments. Work with school district CS education groups. Contribute to your community in advocating Ubuntu, avoid building new structures and framework. Work with existing events, even if they are not directly computer related.
Remember that Ubuntu is built on Community and Community is the number one reason why it is successful. People like me and you building upon the shoulders of giants. Lets continue to improve the communities around us, celebrating what makes us all unique. Without Ubuntu and without community we are nothing.