Two weeks ago I read an article that came up in my Twitter stream (thanks to Bob Kepford @kepford), titled Canary in the Code Mine. It is the story of a company, BitSource, located in Pikesville, Kentucky, that is trying to find a new way forward in the tech world for coal miners who are being laid off in droves. The article is well written, and the story is inspiring. It's worth the "long" read (about 15–20 minutes). Don't worry, I can wait while you go check it out.
Working for a distributed company, and being fortunate enough to be able to live where my life and love have taken me, I completely get the idea of people wanting to provide for their families without leaving the home and community they love. I also can't imagine what it is like to have an entire industry, which I've built my career on, simply vanish from under my feet. I hope I never do experience it. I think the way that BitSource has approached the problem is inspiring and I wish them much success.
In reading the article, one particular detail stood out, which is that of the variety of technologies the BitSource team are learning, one of them is Drupal. I decided to reach out to them to find out more about what work they are doing and whether Drupalize.Me would be of use to them. I hopped on the phone with Justin Hall, the President and team lead, and come to find out that they are in fact a Drupal shop now. They explored various platforms and decided, as a team, that Drupal was their tool of choice. That certainly made me happy and proud. During our brief chat we also discussed open source in general, and Justin pointed out that without open source they probably wouldn't be able to succeed in this journey. He was incredibly thankful for the opportunities they have. I'm impressed with the bravery of this team to step into a whole new world. We finished the call with me offering his team access to Drupalize.Me in order to get more advanced with their dev chops. I also encouraged his team to get directly involved in the community, as that is the best way I know to accelerate learning. It can be a hard leap of confidence to step into the open source world, so I also wanted to introduce them and their story to our community. Let's welcome them warmly into our family.
This is a clear reminder that open source matters. Drupal matters in many more ways than being able to build websites. It is easy to get into the routine of working in open source and handling the tool we are familiar with, working on the project or deadline in front of us, while having the larger impact of our work fade in the background. We, the open source community, are changing individual lives every. single. day. Every single person who has done even the smallest thing* to help an open source project, has helped the lives of this team of former miners tucked in the mountains of eastern Kentucky–and uncountable numbers of other lives as well, including my own. I just want to take a moment to appreciate that, and say "Thank You" to everyone in open source, regardless of the project. You are heroes, and you are amazing.
* When I say "the smallest thing" I mean to point out that many people feel you have to be some master coder to contribute to open source projects. That's simply not true. If you have reported a bug, tested a fix, answered a forum question, donated money, written a blog post, explained what open source is to someone, etc. then you have helped build what we all are today. Remember that, and acknowledge it. You are awesome.