Benefits of JUG-USA Affiliation
The opportunities afforded by affiliating together all the JUGs residing in the United States as part of an umbrella JUG-USA organization seem self-evident to me. In my efforts to bring JUGs around the country on board, I am learning that this is simply not the case. So, here are my thoughts on this matter.
What JUG-USA Affiliation IS!
There are three simple requirements a Java User Group (JUG) must fulfill in order to be a JUG-USA Affiliate. First, the JUG must be geographically located within the borders of the United States. Second, the JUG must have a JUG-USA Liaison subscribed to the Users mailing list of the JUG-USA project on java.net. This Liaison can either be a member of the JUG Leadership or this role can be delegated to someone else within their JUG membership. Third, we ask each Affiliate to provide a link to the JUG-USA Map on their own site.
Beyond the basic requirements, JUG-USA Affiliation is intended to promote communication and cooperation between JUGs throughout the United States. I organized the JUG Leaders panel at CommunityOne 2008 around the topic, Thinking Globally, Acting Locally. My vision for JUG-USA is to allow JUGs in the United States to collaborate globally in ways that will ultimately benefit Java developer communities locally.
What JUG-USA Affiliation Is NOT!
Most importantly, local JUGs will continue to run with complete autonomy. JUG-USA is not about imposing any outside control from above onto them. Affiliation does not in any way involve subordination of local JUGs under JUG-USA. JUG-USA exists solely to serve and support the Affiliated JUGs.
JUG-USA is not going to weaken the participation of JUG Leaders from the United States on the International JUG Leaders list. The fact is that I am finding many JUG Leaders in my own efforts to more fully populate the JUG-USA map that are not members of the global JUG Leaders list. Since we will be cross-posting many of our JUG-USA discussions to both our own users and the global jug-leaders lists, we will be introducing more JUG Leaders from the United States to the global community over time.
What's In It For Affiliates?
Since the birth of JUG-USA on 1/12/2009, two tangible benefits have already emerged. First, JUG-USA is now a member organization in the Java Community Process (JCP). Members of Affiliated JUGs can participate in the JCP through their association with JUG-USA.
Second, JUG-USA has a special discount code (JUGJ50) for the upcoming JavaOne 2009 conference. Members of Affiliated JUGs can use this special discount code when registering for JavaOne. If we have enough Affiliates promoting this with their membership, we have a good chance of winning the special meeting with James Gosling for the JUG with the most participants at JavaOne this year. Before someone calls foul, I want to point out that the winner for the past couple of years has been the national JUG of the Netherlands. Personally, I think more emphasis should be given to year over year improvement in participation rather than sheer numbers. That is a topic for a whole other discussion that I don't want to get into here.
In my mind, the possibilities with JUG-USA are endless. Here are just a few areas to explore:
- Organizing annual regional events in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West regions.
- JUG-USA Newsletter and/or News Feed to highlight interesting JUG events around the country on a regular basis.
- JUG Mentor program to pair successful JUGs with new JUGs.
- Matching up potential speakers with interested JUGs around the country.
- Negotiating bulk discounts for JUG-USA which can be made available to all Affiliates.
- Obtain Federal Non-Profit status for JUG-USA and then create holding accounts to accept tax deductible donations for particular JUG-USA events such as regional gatherings.
Some of these ideas, like non-profit status for JUG-USA, are longer term goals. However, I am already making plans for a West Region gathering of JUG-USA Liaisons later this year. We will organize it in conjunction with our annual Silicon Valley Code Camp this fall. Aaron Houston doesn't know it yet, but, he will be hosting us on the Friday before the weekend camp at the local Sun offices. :-)
My goal is to get Leaders and Liaisons from as many Affiliates as possible to not only attend the regional gathering, but, to stay and participate in our code camp that weekend. I am confident that I can arrange overnight accommodations for Friday and Saturday night with members of the local Java developer community in Silicon Valley.
These are just my personal dreams for JUG-USA. We plan to hold elections for a JUG-USA President and Vice President in May. Once we have elected officers and a critical mass of JUG-USA Liaisons participating on our Users mailing list, who knows what the collective wisdom of that group will come up with. I am certain this initiative has plenty of upside for Affiliates. I only hope I have succeeded in articulating this for those that do not share my vision ... yet!