​It Takes A Village National Forum

October 4-5, 2017
Baltimore, MD

Event Summary

The overall goal of the “It Takes a Village” project is to create a report which will document current practices for sustaining open source initiatives, create a sustainability roadmap to provide paths for planning and assessment for new and existing projects, and provide a resource allocation guide for each phase of an open source software project’s life cycle.

Gathering the data to write the report took two primary forms: a survey which we distributed to 25 open source projects in the cultural heritage sphere; and a forum held in early October in which one or two representatives from each responding project came to talk about their specific experiences. Our agenda was very focused on small working groups, during which the project’s advisory group facilitated open and honest conversations about project lifecycles, governance, financing, resources, community building, outreach and communications, and bumps in the road.

Some of the major themes that emerged: sustainability is cyclical, not a straight line, and it has many facets. You can be up on finances, down on governance, and in the middle on community outreach - and it can all change the next year. We also talked about balance - how to serve current implementers but plan for the future, have a diversified income stream (but not too diversified), how to balance work on our OSS projects with other priorities. The participants were also very happy to be able to connect with one another. For every person in the room who was a familiar face in OSS circles, there was another who was completely new to everyone.

We took dozens of pages of notes, saved slides and giant scratch pad pages, took photographs, and even walked away with a few Polaroids (courtesy of one of our attendees). We will dive into all this data over the coming months and pull out themes, lessons, and guides to write our report which should be available by March 2018.


While much of the work at the ITAV Forum was centered around small-group discussions, we did have several presentations. Slides from those presentations are available here

Roadmap Models

Hard Turns: What Every OSS Project Needs to Know

You can see images of the program participants at the forum below.

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