One of the subjects that has been bugging me as of late to post to my blog, is a new project that myself, Christer and a couple guys from Ohio are starting. The project is the United States Teams Project (USTeams).
First off, what is a LoCo Team? A LoCo Team is an Ubuntu-specific group that meets in a regional area, essentially, an Ubuntu LUG. "LoCo" stands for "Local Community". What makes an Ubuntu LoCo Team different, is the community behind the team. For example, when starting a LUG in your area, there is very little, if any, support on getting the team started, finding and recruiting members, and keeping the team strong. There is also little documentation on getting a LUG setup in that area, and as such, the LUG itself suffers. Some LUGs become successful, while most fade away with little knowledge of existence.
Ubuntu LoCo Teams are different. There is documentation available on how to setup a LoCo Team and to keep it moving (although it could use improvement- more on that in just a minute). The community that exists behind Ubuntu is exhausting, and as such, most LoCo Teams find success in becoming a strong thriving regional community.
So, what's this "USTeams Project" that you mentioned at the beginning? Well, it's simple. Looking over the Big List of LoCo Teams, there are currently only 4 approved teams in the United States. There are many other teams pending approval. Unfortunately, the teams on that list only represent one-half of the United States! And, even worse, many of those teams are no longer striving to get off the ground, as the founder has pursued other interests, couldn't get enough members to join, or just plain forgot about it. As such, Ubuntu isn't having good representation for LoCo Teams from the U.S.
We're about to change that.
The goal of USTeams is to have a LoCo Team in every state by the end of the year. That's a big undertaking, especially seeing as though the 4 of us starting this project probably can't afford to visit every state to help them get started. So how are we going to do it? Well, the details still need working out, and some wrinkles ironed out, but generally, here's the idea:
- Get the word out about the USTeams Project, through forum posts, mailing list posts, and just overall online advocacy.
- Help those who want to start a team in their state by setting up an IRC channel, Launchpad account, wiki page, Ubuntuforums sub-forum and mailing list.
- Provide documentation to the newly started team about what makes a team successful and how to keep the ball rolling.
- Keep the lines of communication open between the new state LoCo Team and the support team.
It's important to note at this point, that USTeams is not a new team. Rather, it is a project or a process to help new and struggling teams become thriving, successful and ultimately, approved teams. Successful teams, such as the Utah Team or the Chicago, Illinois Team identify these new or struggling teams, and offer a lifeline of support to help the team in various areas.
For example, not three days ago, an Ubuntu member came into the USTeams IRC channel (#ubuntu-us on irc.freenode.net) asking how he could setup a LoCo Team in Nebraska. Heck, we haven't even really publically announced this to the Ubuntu Community yet, and already, we're getting newcomers. Well, immediately, I, Christer and Stephen from Ohio jumped on the opportunity to get his team started. I specifically helped him setup his IRC channel, while Stephen and Christer helped him setup his Launchpad account, wiki page and mailing list. Before you knew it, there was a new team added to the Big List. Now, Nebraska has ~5 members, just three days later. It was the support from Ohio and Utah that got Nebraska started, and of course, we will continue to support that team to see them through the approval process and become an approved team.
Of course, not only does the USTeams project help new teams get off the ground and running, but the USTeams Project is also about helping struggling teams figure out how to be strong teams as well. Outlined below is how we hope to achieve that:
- Identify struggling LoCo Teams in the United States
- Provide end-user support to get the team on their feet, by creating online presence, providing documentation, and advocating for the team.
- Recognize key elements that make a successful team, and communicate those to the struggling team.
Realize, that these steps for providing support to new teams and to struggling teams are still tentative as we are working out the details. But, we are having a meeting this Saturday in #ubuntu-us on Freenode to work out these details. The biggest thing at this point is refining the existing documentation for new and struggling LoCo Teams, so it will be easier for them to get it setup. Ultimately, the goal is to have strong, thriving teams in every state by the end of the year. We think we've found a way to do that, and hope to accomplish it.