Wrapping up 2016 and planning for 2017

December is always a hard month for me. My sleep schedule is strongly affected by sunlight which is no fun during the dark Pacific Northwest winters. Being tired makes everything else harder. Now that we’ve passed the autumnal equinox and the days are once again getting longer, I feel hope and energy building once again.

What am I doing with that energy and hope?

I’m wrapping up a major open source governance and sustainability research and writing project. This is a client project I’ve been working on since the Spring and I’m very excited to have it nearing completion. I think it’s good, necessary work and I will be finding a way to share it widely in the months to come.

I’m also finalizing the details of my next major professional project. I’m super excited about it. I think it’s a great fit, both for me and for the organization I’ll be working with. I’m looking forward to starting that sometime next month. Full details coming soon!

My priority during the last quarter of 2016 has largely been one of self-care. Putting my oxygen mask on before helping anyone else put on theirs. I spent a good deal of it sick and then recovering from a sinus infection. I slept a lot, as I always do during this time of year. I went heads down to concentrate and wrap up client projects. I completed my second and final (for now) 3-year term on the Stumptown Syndicate board of directors and have handed off my duties to the new board. I secured my next big professional project, and thus an income for our family for the next while.

Now I’m planning what to focus on during the year ahead and how to make progress towards the efforts I mentioned the day after the election in my post Radicalized.

The most important of these efforts, the one which I think encapsulates all the rest is to help build self-reliant, self-sustaining communities.

One of the main ways I feel I can contribute to this is to continue building, practicing, and sharing basic life skills: gardening, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. If someone in my community is having trouble getting services for their home, either because they are refused or because they can’t afford it, I want to be able to help. If you are in need of help in one of these areas, let me know and we’ll work together to figure it out. If you’re particularly skilled in one of these trades and are local and want to teach me some of what you know, please also get in touch.

Regarding direct community organizing, I’m figuring out what my role should be. I continue to feel worn out from the last several years of organizing Open Source Bridge and other Stumptown Syndicate related activities. And from organizing within the Mozilla community. I continue to struggle to reconcile how vile the tech industry is with how rooted I am in it. It’s not such an easy thing to simply leave the industry which has defined your entire career and adult life.

I’m working through this in a couple of ways.

First, I’m being very deliberate about the tech work that I do engage in and what I expect the result to be. I am no longer looking for a job or an employer to complete me or to serve as a second home for an indefinite period of time. I work on things where my expertise is needed, where I can make a worthwhile contribution in a constrained period of time.

Second, I’m making deliberate efforts to build community unrelated to tech. After some searching, we’ve found a spiritual community (an Episcopalian one) that seems to be a good fit and I’m looking forward to sticking around and seeing where that leads. I have a lot of reservations and conflicting feelings about Christianity, none of which I’ll go into now, but I’ll say this: something in me is rejuvenated each week when we partake in worship. And I need that kind of regular uplift right now.

Third, I’m reading and thinking a lot. I’m reading about labor organizing, systemic racism, social change, etc. I’m using that knowledge to locate myself and ourselves in history. To contextualize where we are at, how we got here, the different ways can respond, and where that might lead us. In addition to wisdom, I’m also looking for glimpses of hope and beauty here and there. I don’t know if I will ultimately do more organizing within tech, or if I will focus on contributing to community outside of tech, or both.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to share what I’m learning, here on the blog, on the Recompiler podcast, and in one-on-one conversations.

I do have a few concrete projects on the schedule for 2017:

  • I’ll continue to produce the Recompiler podcast. My main goals for this year are to continue improving it with consistent weekly publishing, timely content, as well as audio and narrative quality, and to grow its audience.
  • Write and publish a second edition of the Community Event Planning book. We’ve learned a lot since we wrote the first edition. I’d like to include that material as well as more case studies and first-person accounts from many different event organizers.
  • Revise and publish the open source governance research I’ve been working on for a client. Open source projects and their foundations have gained significant prominence over the last 10-20 years, but most people have no idea how they work. Whether you’re an individual contributor, or you’re directly involved in the running of a project, I think this is important knowledge to have.

Finally, I’ve included the following on my project board, in the “art & beauty” category: take photographs, make a quilt, grow flowers.

What about you? What are you working on in 2017?

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