Hi Fedora friends! Flock 2023 wrapped up earlier this month. Several of you already wrote excellent event reports (keep them coming!). But with this Flock now finished, one thing we know we want to do better for 2024 is to move faster and move earlier. So… we are already thinking about where to bring Flock 2024. We are committed to North America next year, but we do not have a city or location planned yet. Could it be your city?
This discussion topic is open throughout September 2023 to collect feedback and ideas on possible cities and locations for Flock 2024 in North America. One thing clear to me is that Flock thrives in places where there are strong, local communities. These folks help welcome us to their country, their state, and their city. The Friends Foundation of Fedora is something we talk about a lot, and it shines strongly with our local communities who make Flock a welcoming experience for us.
What is non-negotiable for Flock?
So, you want to bring Flock to your city. Great! In order to do that, there are certain things that the Flock organizing team absolutely require for us to consider a location for Flock:
Easy airplane accessibility: A city for Flock needs to have a well-connected airport. This could be a significant international airport or a domestic airport with lots of connections. Fedorans travel from nearly every continent to be at Flock. Getting people there is an important factor.
Reasonable hotel and convention spaces at affordable prices: We are strong believers that the best connections happen when the hotel and the venue are a shared space. Flock needs a venue that can welcome 150-250 people at affordable rates. Many people travel with a work budget, but many people also travel on their personal budget. Expensive cities with expensive hotels are tough for the Fedora community.
Locals!: We need Fedora Friends on the ground in the city we are attending. This doesn’t mean you have to do all the work, but we would use your local knowledge and expertise to make Flock the best possible event it can be. Where could we book a group dinner with our meal requirements? What are fun ideas for local tourist attractions or activities for the Fedora community? How does local transportation work? Locals help provide the best advice and we want to connect with local Fedora contributors wherever Flock goes.
What is not required, but makes a city better for Flock?
A fresh location for people to connect more easily with Fedora: We have contributors all over the world. Ideally, we can always go to different places than we have gone before, so that Flock is accessible to Fedora contributors who may not have had Flock come close by for them before.
A fun place with diverse options of things to see and do: Evening socials and community activities are always a major part of Flock. A good city for Flock should have plenty of options for people to go out and connect with other community members, whether that is restaurants/bars, sightseeing and tourism, or unique history and culture.
Nice weather: For a conference, we do spend a good amount of time outside. Nice weather between July to September is a perk!
Alternate transit options (train): If people can travel to the city easily by other means, like train or bus, that is always good too. This can help with accessibility but also keeping a smaller climate footprint for environmentally-mindful travelers.
Public transit from airport to hotel: Almost all Flock attendees will do this trip, so easy options via public transit are often more affordable and more environmentally-friendly than a taxi ride.
Venue is in the heart of the city: It helps when the Flock venue is well-connected to the city and there are lots of things to do within walking distance. Shuttle buses are options, but it is nice when walking is also as easy of an option as a taxi, bus, or metro ride.
When will we decide Flock 2024 location and dates?
We want to move faster this year. The goal is to know where we are going in North America by late October, so we can make a public announcement about location and dates before the end of 2023. So, this September is the best time to get feedback in and to volunteer your city as an option. Volunteering a city is not a guarantee that we will bring Flock there, but we will include cities of interest from the community in our research for next year’s venue.
So… any folks in our North America community who are interested in volunteering their city?
If you have been around for a while, you might remember that Flock used to be decided through a community bidding process. A group of contributors would create a bid by contacting a hotel or venue, planning local transportation, and other event planning work. Fortunately, we have folks at Red Hat who help us with this work now. So, by being a local, this does not mean you are committing to organizing or running an event. We just want to have someone who knows what is the ground reality for where we are going and can help answer our questions! ↩︎
With the experience that some of my friends have had recently with obtaining visas for the USA, things have been tough for Indians unless people have started with the process way too early (i.e. at least, six months before the actual event) to ensure that the decisions are made promptly.
This is a lot of cities. For any of these, do you know whether we have strong pockets of local contributors like we had in Ireland? The local Irish folks we had helping us out in the weeks leading up to Flock and during Flock were so helpful.
I mean, I might count as a local for Atlanta, but event organizing in Atlanta would be something new to me, so it might as well be anywhere else. (It would make my heart happy to see an Atlanta Flock one day, one year though. 2024 might not be the year though.)
This has always been true for Flock and would continue to be true. We provided visa support for speakers who needed it this year.
Thus, we are starting this conversation with ~12 months runway to the next Flock.
Cities in Florida could be interesting, but the important factor remains about connection to locals who also have a deep connection to the Fedora community. In Ireland, we had several Fedora contributors who are very active in the community and they understand our community culture. They know where to go to ask for help and the right people to coordinate with. This made a huge impact to the success of Flock.
Having some third-degree connections with locals in a city helps and it is better than nothing. However, bringing Flock to your state and city is a big deal and it is a powerful way to recognize the efforts of a local community or pocket of contributors by bringing Flock closer to them. That part about having locals who are also Fedorans is critical.
So, we should avoid going too far off-track until we are certain this requirement with local Fedorans is met first.
numerous other community members who use and love Fedora
San Antonio also mostly meets the non-required items, with the a slight caveat for the nice weather. July and August are pretty hot, so if this considered I would definitely recommend waiting until September (or even later if possible).
Could there be an opportunity for Boston, possibly by colocating with DevConf.us? It’s a major US airport, and a major historical location. While hotels in the city proper are quite expensive, there’s much less expensive lodging in the surrounding area with easy public transportation access.
I know we previously did Flock in Massachusetts by way of Cape Cod, of course. But Boston is a very different experience.
Toronto, Ontario Canada is a viable option. The surrounding GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and the nearby
Golden Triangle (University of Waterloo and University of Guelph home) are well built up metropolitan areas with many activities and venues.
Montreal and it’s surrounding area is also an option that should be attractive for the community I think.
Ottawa and Hull are also Canadian cities that can offer some varied activities along with a thriving tech community.
All of these cities and surrounding areas offer excellent availability of affordable accommodation and venues for potential sites for Flock 2024. I am more partial to the Ontario cities since it would be easier for me to attend as I live in this province. Mind you all of them are quite the drive for me.
[Edit] We welcome EVERYONE in Canada.
Florida law criminalizes the use of a public restroom that does not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth. This presents a legal risk for our transgender contributors. Furthermore, several states have passed laws that could put pregnant people at risk in case of pregnancy complications because doctors fear that they could be prosecuted for performing abortions.
I’m privileged to not have to worry about this for myself, but in the interests of having an inclusive community, I think any location that puts our contributors at risk should be a non-starter. You can ask Matthew how many times I’ve lobbied for Indianapolis as a Flock venue, but I can’t suggest it now in good conscience.
I’m in Ottawa (or nearbyish) and will happily volunteer to be a pair of local hands if it happens here.
There is a Ottawa Linux users group whose mailing list I lurk on who might be interested (never managed to attend a meeting yet…it always manages to clash with something unfortunately). They are quite quiet.
Montreal is a fun city - and seems to have an active open source community (I went to a Debian meetup there once which was fun). Toronto is nice but my experiences are it can be crazy expensive in the summer for hotels (my daughter went to a concert there in July and it was “eeek” $'s to stay downtown).
We probably won’t have snow in July & August. Maple syrup can likely be provided?
I know it doesn’t fit the “fresh” nice to have since we’ve had a Flock here before, but I’d throw Rochester, NY into the mix as an option. It fits many of the other requirements and nice to haves. It’s a small but lively city with lots of fun things to do and (mostly) beautiful summer weather during the month of August. I’m on the ground here and would be happy to help however I can. Alternatively, Buffalo is about an hour west of Rochester and has Niagara Falls which could be a fun social option! I’d also be up for Boston or somewhere in Canada.
I’d echo other folks’ concerns on the thread about certain locations and human rights issues for under represented folks. I know for some it can be easy to brush off as just politics, but for others it could mean an increased chance of harassment, lack of appropriate emergency medical care, legal risk, or worse. I also think next time around these considerations should be set as non negotiable for future in person events, no matter the part of the world we’re looking to gather.
Here’s some links I found with a quick web search to help us evaluate which states would be most safe and welcoming. I’m sure there are more resources out there, and I’d invite others to share.