I always think the way I became involved in Fedora was unique. Most people will start contributing virtually, in IRC, mailing lists, pull requests, or other ways. For me, my journey into the Fedora community began at Flock 2015 in Rochester, NY. Conveniently, the conference was the week before the day I would move to Rochester to begin my first year of academic studies at a university in Rochester. I decided to move up early and attend because I was a Fedora user and thought it would be interesting to be a part of Flock.
Flock was amazing and I saw how diverse and large the Fedora community was. People from around the world were here to discuss, plan, and move forward this open source project. One of the things that stood out to me was the conference was more than just hard work and professional context (it was these things too) – but at the end of the day, I could see these people were friends with each other too, and I got to know the Fedora community in a more personal way. One example of this I remember was the Fedora Marketing planning session. There were many intense discussions with many disagreements, but delivered constructively. Then, later that evening, I saw a lot of the same people who were debating intensely either eating together or sharing some drinks, talking like friends that had known each other for years.
At this time, I was not a contributor. I didn't know anyone in the conference. I went alone. I moved into Rochester that week coming from Atlanta, Georgia, so it was a new conference and a new city that was my new home, but it didn't feel this way to me yet. There was one point when there was a coffee break and no talks were going on. Many people were talking, but I was quietly off to the side by myself. I didn't know who he was at the time, but Pete Travis approached me and started a friendly conversation, about who I was, why I decided to come to Flock, and some of my interests.
We talked about a few things, but I remember nerding out about a crazy idea of how Fedora could better target a younger audience through gaming. At the time, I was a staff member of one of the largest open source Minecraft server software projects. I saw how so many kids and young adults were exposed to open source and became involved with open source because of Minecraft. I forget what the tie-in to Fedora was, but there was a crazy idea of how Fedora could try to grow and attract those kinds of people as users to the distribution.
I think the idea was a little pie-in-the-sky, but Pete didn't criticize it or shoot it down. He talked with me about it and made me feel like I could be onto something if I developed the idea further. But the important part wasn't anything about my crazy idea. In that moment, I started to feel less of an outsider. I started to think of things I could bring to this open source community and project. For the first time, I didn't think of myself as an observer, but I realized I could be a participant too, if I made the effort to get involved and participate. I doubt Pete even remembers this, but for me, it was somewhere in that moment where I began to feel a part of this huge community I had spent most of the week just watching.
Even though I haven't seen Pete for a while now, his impact on me starting my journey into Fedora was huge. For the last three years, my adventure and time in Fedora has taken me to all kinds of new places and I have had countless new experiences. And yet, somehow in the last three years of everything that I have seen and has happened to me, I can remember this one simple experience that made a big difference to me.
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