Sasha Romijn

Looking back on DjangoCon Europe 2016

This week I spoke with my friend Mikey Ariel at DjangoCon Europe 2016 with Healthy Minds in a Healthy Community. We spoke on common well-being issues for contributors to open-source communities. Key points included that none of us are alone in our struggles, the importance of helping ourselves before we can help others and that it’s ok to ask for help.

We announced the Django Software Foundation Well-being Committee, whose mission is to provide peer support for community members who need to talk to someone who understands. We also announced open-source Happiness Packets, a simple platform to reach out to people that you appreciate or are thankful to in the open-source community. All our slides and resources that did and didn’t make it in are in a GitHub repository.

This has been my most difficult talk ever. There is no way I could have done this without Mikey, so I’m very grateful that we did this together. Well-being is a complicated subject, with many angles. We wanted to help people feel empowered, loved and less alone. To foster understanding for well-being issues in others, and create awareness of everyone’s own well-being. And to show ways in which open-source communities can make a difference.

This was the first time I spoke together with someone else and I have never spent this much time preparing a talk before. First steps started 11 months ago, and we had already done a lot of our research and outlining before we even submitted. From the first idea we wanted to present this at DjangoCon, because the loving, caring and inclusive community around Django was the obvious place to discuss this.

The response to the talk, from people at DjangoCon Europe and on twitter, has been incredibly moving, warm and slightly overwhelming. I’m most grateful to the organisers and the community that gave us the opportunity to do these things. I feel like we have accomplished so much of what we worked so hard to achieve. It’s left me confident that we met many of our goals and made a difference to both individual people and the Django community as a whole. We’re not done though. We’re now working out some more details of the Well-being Committee.

During the rest of the conference, about one or two dozen people approached me about the talk. Many stressed how important it was that these issues are openly discussed, and that it made them think a lot about their own well-being too. People were happy that the Django community is so receptive to discussing well-being. There were also some specific questions that I might blog about later.

I’ll share a few of my favourite tweets: