mark: A photo of Mark kneeling on top of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines. It was a long hike. (Default)
Mark Smith ([staff profile] mark) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news2014-12-31 01:40 pm

Dreamwidth news: 31 December 2014

Hello Dreamwidth!

Happy Holidays and happy New Year if you happen to be in a place further ahead of the timeline than me (hello [personal profile] fu)! It's been a pretty awesome year over here at DW HQ, and now we're wrapping it up.

One thing we haven't done yet, though -- and totally remiss of us! -- is to talk about our end of the year giving. Most of you probably know that we typically make an end of year charitable donation of some kind.

  • In 2011, we supported the Ada Initiative.

  • In 2012, we split our donation between the Ada Initiative and then gave some to several different groups we appreciate: Doctors Without Borders, Heifer International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

  • In 2013, we didn't do an end-of-year gift to anyone, but we did a mid-year sponsorship of YAPC::NA 2013, a Perl conference we attended.

Here in 2014, I'm happy to say that we're back up to our old tricks. This year's end-of-year donation is one that's particularly important to us, so I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what we're doing and why. But first -- what!

Dreamwidth's 2014 donation is to the Stumptown Syndicate, the organization that does -- among other things! -- the Open Source Bridge conference we've been to two years running now. We have pledged to complete [personal profile] brainwane's matching pledge drive. This means we'll be donating approximately $7,000 USD to the Stumptown Syndicate.

Why this group?

Well, let's talk briefly about the state of diversity in Open Source. It's pretty fucked up, historically; the participation rates of people who don't look like me is really bad for many reasons. One of the biggest ones -- and one that Dreamwidth cares a lot about -- is toxic/hostile environments.

One of the reasons we created Dreamwidth was because we believe that if you created an environment that encourages and welcomes participation by everybody, of all kinds of backgrounds, then you'd get exactly that -- diverse participation. The desire to build and create (and design and code!) is not limited to straight white cisgendered males and our project demonstrates that. In fact, I'm quite in the minority around here -- happily so!

Unfortunately, that's not true of the greater technology industry. Every company I've worked at is struggling to hire and retain people from non-traditional backgrounds. There are many facets to this problem, but a big part of it is a supply problem: there just aren't as many engineers who are women, or people of color, or trans, or.. etc!

Open source (and related: the maker movement) is a huge part of the supply side of my industry. People can learn about software, about building things in groups, and then turn that into a career. To do that, though, they have to be able to get into these projects and stay around. They have to be welcomed, they have to be encouraged.

The Stumptown Syndicate recognizes this, and their Open Source Bridge conference is a gathering of people who broadly care about the problem, who get together and say: you are welcome, you are wanted -- and you are not alone.

Building inclusive groups is a cause I support, and I'm really happy that Dreamwidth is in a position where we can fiscally support it, too. The world won't change for the better unless people make it happen.

Thanks for reading. :)

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