Cross-posted from Silicon Florist

Next week we’ll be celebrating the 10th birthday of Calagator, Portland’s technology calendar. As time passes, you might not know who created it, who maintains it, or how it came to be. I admit we haven’t always done the best at communicating that—so read on.

There are many points that we could mark as Calagator’s beginning, but I’ll pick our first code sprint. That day in January 2008, over a dozen people met to open a Google code repo, register a domain name, and start defining how our calendar would work. Our work was informed by the practices and communities we participated in, including open source, agile development, and user group organizing. Not only did we have to decide what the calendar would do, we had to agree on who it was for. That’s what made broad community participation so valuable.

In that first year, we organized over twenty work sessions—about one every two weeks. Just as much development happened outside sprints, tackling some of the big pieces that tied everything together. Our first day we had a working Rails app that allowed events to be posted, and we deployed it online. That spring we gained our signature green stripes, better event and venue details, and useful tools like Google Maps support. We prioritized inclusive participation over speed, and yet what we accomplished was substantial. Calagator has been a base for mentoring, for learning about our community, and for becoming better community organizers and software developers. We credit everyone who’s come and asked questions, written documentation, or fixed the smallest bug.

I’ve learned a lot of things about open source, labor, and love through this project. We can do so much when we come together to build something around a common need. Yet we also tend to overlook the costs. No developer has been paid to work on Calagator. One core contributor paid the domain registration and hosted the site from 2008-13 from his own pocket. Developers, designers, documentation writers, and other community members have contributed thousands of hours of work out of their own evenings and weekends. Our flexible, open approach allowed the creation of the project to be very responsive and engage with more people than I could have hoped. On the other hand, we never created a truly sustainable model, and while there are many more things I’d like to do with our open source project, even keeping enough contributors engaged for maintenance can be a struggle.

There are some people I need to thank for their extraordinary contributions in getting us to this point:

  • Igal Koshevoy, who provided Calagator’s first hosting and pushed us to do our best work. We miss you so much.
  • Reid Beels, my co-maintainer, who created Calagator’s original design and continues to do a little bit of everything.
  • Eva Schweber and David Kominsky, who ran CubeSpace, the coworking community that hosted our first year of work sprints.
  • The dozens of people who came to those sprints, asked questions and made contributions; especially the people who didn’t code or know Ruby or think they were technical enough.
  • The pdx.rb community, for being supportive of the idea that Calagator was a good place to make your first open source commit.
  • Everyone at Stumptown Syndicate, past and present, the organization that now provides our hosting; including Christie Koehler, who really wants us to add time zone support.
  • And I should mention my own part: I saw the need, gave it a name, and brought everyone together to build something amazing.
  • Finally, thank you to everyone who uses Calagator, whether you add events, clean up details, watch for spam, or just browse for something to do tonight. It would be pretty silly to have a calendar without a community.

Join us for Calagator’s 10th birthday party, Thursday March 1 at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. You can find more details and the link to register — where else? On Calagator.

Posted 22 Feb 2018