On being the change I want to see in the community
Yes, this is another one of "those posts."
No, this is not another one of "those posts."
How is this another one of "those posts?" I've finally been spurred into action on account of recent events in the community. But, probably not in the way you are thinking. I recently attended a regional Drupal camp that had an informal session on (if I remember the title correctly) "The Intersection of Diversity and Intolerance." I participated in that session, or perhaps did not participate in that session. It was this participation / un-participation that has actually spurred me into action.
How is this not another one of "those posts?" As I wrote in my follow-up communication with some of the organizers of the camp (and that session in particular), "You happened to have given me the opportunity to finally speak up about something I've been repressing for quite some time. For me, this isn't actually about what happened with the activity or with Larry. It's about me deciding I'm ready to see if I can find a way to contribute to the community in a more personal and opinionated way."
This blog post is one way I am beginning to contribute to the community in a more personal and opinionated way.
I am on the verge of celebrating my 8th Drupalversary (https://www.drupal.org/u/vegantriathlete). But, that's marking the time from when I first created my d.o. account. I'm really closer to celebrating my 7th Drupalversary. I formally started participating in the Drupal community by presenting at DrupalCamp Colorado in June of 2010. And that's where this story starts, because having my presentation accepted was both the beginning of feeling included in the community and the beginning of feeling excluded from the community.
By my account, and based on comments people made directly to me, my presentation was pretty well received. And yet, there were those in the audience who made it quite clear (during the presentation) that they did not entirely approve of my presentation. Furthermore, it would be a good number of years until another one of my session proposals was accepted at the camp.
There were other ways in which I expressed my willingness to take part in my local community and from which I felt generally ignored, if not outright excluded.
However, it's not my intent to run through a litany of grievances. Let me return to the aforementioned recent activity in which I participated / didn't participate. Another comment I made in my communications was "It's clear all of you have put a tremendous amount of thought into the conference and have acted intentionally with sensitivity and inclusiveness in mind."
Rather, it is my intent to highlight how there is more than one side to a story. In fact, there are more than two sides; there are as many sides as there are participants / witnesses. We are all human and we all bring our own experiences and perspectives to every situation.
Perhaps there has been a certain amount of willful elitism that has made me feel like an intruder. Perhaps there have been ways in which I conducted myself that caused others to feel like they were being assaulted. Perhaps it was just simple lack of chemistry or just a fluke of a given set of circumstances. Perhaps it's something else entirely different that I'm totally missing. It's extremely hard to know the truth, if there even is such a thing as a single "truth" to be known, without a willingness for all parties to be open about their experiences and perspectives and to hold a sincere conversation.
I'm open to holding that sincere conversation.
- Do you feel like you've been excluded or unheard?
- Do you have a desire to contribute but feel like you've been underutilized or thwarted?
- Do you just want to talk to somebody who is willing to listen?
Here I am! I am I. I am a member of this community who has decided to scratch my own itch. Talk to me. I'll talk to you. We'll talk together. We'll talk with others. Oh yeah, and we'll listen, too!
I am embarking on being the change I want to see in this community. I am willing to put in the hard work to figure out how to get the best each of us has to offer and to approach things with the assumption that we are acting with a sincere desire to be a constructive force for positive change.
- "What counts as constructive?", you ask.
- "What constitutes positive?", you ask.
- "What is sincere?", you ask.
- "How do we balance good intention with the actions taken?", you ask.
"Those are good questions!", I respond.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on them.
As I'm out and about in the Drupal community I will be writing "Talk to me!" on my name tag and / or putting that on a placard when I'm sitting at a table.
Until we have the opportunity to meet in person, you may get in touch to share your thoughts through channels such as my d.o. contact form, the contact form on this site and the comments on this post.