Last weekend, July 24-26, FSFE invited it’s coordinators all over Europe to the European Coordinators Meeting 2015 (ECM15) in the Unperfekthaus in Essen. Unfortunately, we had a bit less participation then in the previous edition due to some short-time cancellations. Fortunately, this did not spoil the good mood of all those present and we look back on a very exciting and productive coordinators meeting. In this post, find a report of our weekend.

participants of ECM15

Participants of the ECM15

Official start of the agenda was on Saturday morning, but as some of the coordinators from abroad already came on Friday midday, we decided to do a tour to the “Zeche Zollverein”, a Unesco World Industrial Heritage, to look at a hackers masterpiece of the 19th century. This was a fun and interesting activity to begin with for those who did attend and served perfect as a first warm-up with each other for the weekend.


Impact Chain

On Saturday, after a short welcome round I organised a workshop about the “impact chain” for FSFE’s community, the Fellows. In short, the “impact chain” is a model for organisations that like to have an impact on society to better define their activities. In practice, the model leads to an exercise in which small groups try to find the most promising activities based on their resources by FIRST defining the overall goal of their existence, the “vision” for what and why they exist. From there, you think the whole story reverse: what outcome do your activities need to achieve for your goal, what output do you need to achieve that outcome, what activities do you need therefore and as a last step, what resources do you need.
The interesting aspect of this exercise is that most organisation models start the other way round: from your resources towards what you can do. But as an organisation that likes to change society it is very inspiring to first think about what kind of change you like to achieve and from there find a way to identify the resources you need.

As an outcome of the workshop, our coordinators identified in small groups that the most important goal to achieve for FSFE’s community is (in no particular order):

  • Enabling self-determined use of technology
  • Free Software and open standards are the norm
  • People truly know what Free Software is, why it is relevant and where it
    fits in the bigger picture of society

Most attendees welcomed this workshop as a good start for cooperation for the weekend, as it gave a good picture for everyone how other attendees think about specific aspects of FSFE’s community.

After that we spent the whole afternoon to talk about my proposal to restructure FSFE’s community. This was a hot topic and as nearly everyone has read my roadmap in preparation to the meeting, we have been able to discuss different aspects on a high level. Unfortunately, we lost track of time in between, so in retrospective some other topics must have been shrinked due to the lack of time. However, for me as FSFE’s community builder, it was very important to get and gather the coordinators feedback on my proposed community strategy. Now, i’m looking forward to bring together the communitys feedback with my initial proposal and the feedback from the management. Once this is done and approved by both sides, you will most probably read about it here on my blog or on FSFE’s lists. So long, stay tuned.

In the evening we passed by a local metal-festival but decided that the weather is too bad and we have still so many things to talk about, that we spontaneously decided to go on talking over a beer in a local pub.


ECM15 in process

On Sunday, as wished by the majority of the participating coordinators, we heavily discussed the role of coordinators and other roles inside our community as well as the structure and communication inside the community. I really welcomed this discussion, as it was obvious that there was the wish to talk about these aspects. Again, it will be a pleasure to summarise our discussion and present it to the other coordinators that have not been able to join our meeting.

Finally, we discussed some PR related topics, especially campaigns and, after a feedback round, we spent the last two hours to have some personal talks with each other to easier stay in touch over the year on a personal level as well.

Thanks to all coordinators that have been able to join the weekend and made it that productive and interesting. I saw a lot of enthusiasm, a common spirit and individual engagement on various local levels. Seeing this motivates me throughout the year to boost our community and I think we are definitely in need of such a meeting every year – so I will do my best to organise an ECM16.