LoCos, Leaders, and Lessons Learned: Massachusetts Team

Article contributed by Amber Graner
Ubuntu Massachusetts

In the latest LoCo Team interview in this US Teams Interview Series – LoCos, Leaders, and Lessons Learned, Amber Graner talks to Martin Owens of the Ubuntu Massachusetts LoCo Team. Martin talks about the tools the team uses, events they attend as well as help with, and what advice the Massachusetts LoCo Team would give to other teams and community members and much much more!

US-Teams: Could you tell us a little about you and what your role in the LoCo Team is?

Martin Owens: My current role in the Massachusetts Local team is as a leader and official contact to the world wide community, I provide each member with assurances and self-authority in cases where members are too shy to take the initiative and I also supply the local team with news and interesting updates that may effect us.

US: When was the Ubuntu Massachusetts LoCo team started? How long after it was started did it take to get approved?

MO: It was started way back in 2007 when a group of us went out for pizza, since then it’s become much more formalised now that there is some direction and definition about what a local community group is supposed to do. Once you’ve found your feet and got some events organised it’s possible to get approved, we got approved way back when you had to go to the council directly. It was easier to set up events since Ship-it would still give people small amounts of CDs to get started back then.

US: What tools do you use for your team? Mailing Lists, Forums, IRC, websites, Micro-blogging sites etc.

MO: At the moment our primary communication is IRC for transient discussion and mailing lists for announcements and more permanent discussions, we do announce on website, broadcast accounts and forums but we tend not to use them for more than that.

US: On the road to LoCo approval what were some of the challenges the team faced and how did the team overcome them?

MO: The team has had not unexpected criticism from the geek community here in Massachusetts about the singular focus on one distribution, from the FSF (based in Boston) and the very old and well established LUGs and university groups who don’t want to look like they favor one commercial product.

This has made event organizing challenging since we have to attract people who are outside of universities in a university town and try and spark interest in advocacy in unusual places.

US: What are the biggest challenges your team faces now and what strategies does the team use to over come them?

MO: Apathy is the biggest problem with any team I think, keeping things energetic over a long time without having any full time members to keep on top of the little administrative burdens which make everything less fun. That’s why things like loco.ubuntu.com are needed, to take away the burdens and help us make making events awesome and enjoyable.

US: What types of activities does the LoCo Team participate in? Are there any events the LoCo team sponsors?

MO: We used to have training sessions every Tuesday for two years and sometimes special sessions on Wednesdays for advanced classes but the community center moved we were teaching at moved to Apple iMacs and now those have stopped. We also run events at Sci-Fi or similar events, booths at these events can pull in people who are slightly non geeky and introduce new people and add a layer of authenticity which is missing from something not on a shelf in a shop.

US: What are some of the projects your LoCo team has worked on? What are some of the upcoming projects the Ubuntu community can expect to see from the LoCo team throughout the next cycle?

MO: After the success of Anime Boston we’ve got another similar event at Pi-Con5, it’s a mid state event which should attract people from a wide area who can’t normally get into Boston proper. There is also Ubuntu Hours happening and some random community work sparking off which plans are not yet confirmed for.

US: What are some of the ways in which the LoCo actively recruits new members? What resources have you created or do you use (ie posters, fliers, business cards, banners etc).

MO: Traditionally we’ve tried to keep our advertising to Ubuntu it’s self, the thinking was that attracting new Ubuntu members would grow the pool of interested people who would come and help out inside the group for advocacy. Now I think it’s time to reassess that thinking and perhaps have adverts for the group it’s self in places such as universities.

US: What do you think is the best aspect of being part of a LoCo team is?

MO: Getting support from people who you know.

US: What has been the most rewarding and exciting moment for the LoCo Team to date and why?

MO: Probably setting up a community lab with ubuntu, including servers then training people how to use the PXE boot to install ubuntu on many new machines to go out into the community.

US: What suggestions would you offer for newly formed LoCo teams or those teams working toward approval right now?

MO: Make sure you do social events, get a home base organized even if it’s a coffee shop somewhere and make sure there is an official contact, and don’t worry about stepping on peoples toes at the start, too many times people are too cautious with their organisation plans.

US: What tips, tricks, tools, references etc would you suggest for the leadership of a LoCo team?

MO: Use all the resources available to make great posters and flyers, http://openclipart.org/ http://spreadubuntu.neomenlo.org/ or http://ubuntu-artists.deviantart.com anything that you can legally derive wonderfully looking designs and work them into local targets.

US: When you think of the Ubuntu Community and the spirit of Ubuntu how does the LoCo embody and share that spirit?

MO: We embrace the code of conduct and look to make sure there isn’t any mean spirits, everyone should be free to enjoy Ubuntu and it’s community.

US: Is there anything else about the LoCo team, or suggestions for being an effective and successful LoCo team you would like to share that you haven’t already?

MO: Make sure that you set everything up and listen to advice from other leaders, they’ve usually got great ideas in what kind of events to set up.

[Discuss this interview with the Massachusetts Team on the Forum]

Originally posted by Elizabeth Krumbach here on Fri Jul 9 2010 19:59

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