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The Big Picture -- 2012 July 11

Gregory Brown recently stepped down from his leadership role within Mendicant University so that he could focus on growing his business and spending time with his baby boy. Since then, we have been transforming Mendicant University into a group-run program, lead by our homesteaders.

Last week, the homesteading crew gathered together to discuss how the school will move forward. Most of the nitty gritty details of running the school were nailed down, but the homesteaders didn’t have time to discuss the future of Mendicant University. With that in mind, we decided to meet again this week to work on those details.

The discussion started off with each participant discussing what they think is working well with the new Mendicant University. Eric was brave enough to go first, and expressed that overall the school is active given the limited amount of time that our community members have. Still, some important questions needed answering:

Our core is strong, but the excitement has died down a little since Greg left. So how can we generate interest? What is the bigger aim of Mendicant? Are we teaching? Building a community? What exactly is the focus?

Jordan responded to these questions by confirming his own feelings that the school had lost its direction without Gregory at the helm:

Right now no one is looking at the big picture and, for the most part, Mendicant does not have a clear direction. In some ways, the school is going through an identity crisis.

Shane was in agreement with both Jordan and Eric:

Having Mendicant out in the open is great, but now that all of our activities are low commitment, does that also make it harder to get any kind of commitment from people? The OSS clinic for Anita had very low participation, and engaging new people is very difficult.

Piotr then began to ponder how Mendicant could become more appealing to gain critical mass:

Mendicant lost part of its appeal when it changed directions. The core course was about building small projects which were easy to start up and didn’t require a massive learning curve. Right now Mendicant lacks an easy path to engage people where they can quickly learn if they’re interested or not.

This lead the team to begin generating ideas which could help get Mendicant back on track.

Then, all of these ideas were integrated together by a proposal from Shane: Bring back a smaller version of the core course. The group agreed that the original core course is still not a sustainable project, but it served a critical role in Mendicant’s community.

In short, the idea is to run an activity which spans 2 to 3 weeks where Mendicant community members hack on a personal project or some other OSS project. Their work would be peer reviewed by other participants but all community members would be encouraged to mentor and help participants develop their projects.

With time running short, the group decided to hold off on discussing that project any further, but not before Jordan proposed bringing back Community. He thinks that the activity section of community could potentially solve many of the commitment and participation issues discussed. Plus he is also starting to get frustrated with Mendicant’s existing Jekyll based site.

Now it’s your turn. The homesteaders want to know if any of these ideas resonate with you, and what you think is the best plan for Mendicant. Please take some time and share your thoughts on our community mailing list. :heart: