Events that Empower the Community

I had my blog pretty much abandoned, but now I'm urged to write about our latest event, the FUDCon. For those that haven't heard about it, the Fedora Users and Developers Conference was held in Panama from May 26th until May 28th. The main organizer of the event was the Fedora Ambassador and friend Alejandro Pérez, who was backed by a lot of the members of the local Fedora Community.

While my friend Diego states that this is probably the event that has brought the largest amount of showstars of technology to Panama (since we had a bunch of Red Hat Certified Engineers; Jared Smith, current Fedora Project Leader, and Jeroen van Meeuwen, RHCE of the Year in 2008) and others may say it's the most important Free Software event that has been done in our country, I'd like to point out what I think is the most indisputable award this event had: the Community.

I attended to a Fedora Design meeting where tatica was explaining some common tricks in GIMP and Inkscape. At some point, one of the attendees wanted to congratulate her for the artwork of FUDCon Panama. He said that the artwork itself looked so professional and attractive that he didn't even have to ask for permission at work to attend the conference. "That artwork...", tatica replied, "... was not made by me, that artwork was made by a new member of the Fedora community in Panama". She was talking about Juan "haks" Barba, a member of the Fedora Community for several months now, who has an incredible skill with design and can create amazing stuff with Inkscape and who was also admitted as official RPMDev packager during FUDCon.

And speaking about RPMDev, we had three new official packagers graduating during FUDCon through the RPMDev project, including the most recent member of the Fedora Community in Panama, and recently appointed Fedora Ambassador, Luis Bazan. We didn't even know the guy two months ago, but since he discovered the existence of a Free Software community in Panama, and that the FUDCon was around the corner, he started working full steam on the projects and integrated with the rest of the community as if he had been there since ever. He actually pushed his way into the packager graduation by pressing one of the Fedora packagers in Brazil that attended the FUDCon, until he had his Perl-based package ready for inclusion, showing us all once again that he is as decided as a community member can be about collaborating with the community and getting involved in the projects.

Finally, I saw Abdel "potty" Martinez, another Fedora Ambassador, bowling at the FUDPub with Jared Smith, Dennis Gilmore and a bunch of other blockbuster names inside the Fedora Project. I'm not into picture taking, but that mental picture just at the end of the FUDCon will always stay in my mind. That was when I came to know what the real value of this event was: empowering a whole community of people, giving them a chance to participate in real world large scale projects as the organization of FUDCon is, and giving them a chance to meet and interact with people that have built the distribution they now use and collaborate with. That is one of the most important values of Free Software and it is through this kind of events that we should all show what the importance of Free Software is.

Some of us had chances to start new projects and share ideas of next steps and destinations, and are now writing up the details of what to do, and I'm really glad we had that chance to do face to face coordination and exchange. Some of the contacts we made will probably return to Panama for future events and projects.

Alejandro, at the end, received an Achros tablet PC as a thank-you gift from the FPL himself, but I don't think that's even close to the congratulations he deserves for giving the members of the Free Software community in Panama the first hand experience of their lives. We know they'll appreciate this for the rest of their professional careers and that the bonds started through this event will remain and strengthen throughout the years.

Congratulations again to Alejandro and the Fedora Community. There's lot of work before us all, but we have surely been revitalized through the FUDCon last weekend.