Global Gathering 2020 - Day 2 - Global Governance - How do we work now?

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Google Doc

What is the purpose of this session?

Share information and clarify the following:

  • Who are the ‘Instances’ - OFN Global Affiliate; how many are in global sys admin pool
  • The ‘Core Team’ - how this happened, where did these people come from
  • The Global Pot
  • Instances and Affiliates - rights and responsibilities

Discover how these systems are experienced by others in OFN

What outcomes/deliverables do we want?

Everyone understands where we’re at so we can start thinking about what to keep, tweak, add

Who is facilitating? Kirsten

Who is scribing? Gen


We began with a series of presentations from the core team on how things work right now

  • Kirsten: Who are the people involved in OFN; who are the ‘Core Team’ and how did this team emerge; how did our system of organizing develop; what are the rights and responsibilities of instances and affiliates
  • Danni: How do we manage platform improvements
  • Luis: what do the devs do?
  • Kirsten: How does OFN manage its global finances

We then spent some time discussing to ensure everyone present understands the various systems of how OFN works right now, and identifying ways in which this system is unclear to newcomers


We will reflect on this system of working and think about what we love about it, what needs improvement, and any concerns we might have for its future sustainability given, e.g., the growth of OFN. We will bring these reflections to the next Global Governance session: What we love. What we fear. Holding the culture.

Detailed notes:

See slides for details of presentations. Here are some extra bits from the conversation I noted down…

Kirsten - overview of OFN history

  • Kirsten and Serenity started OFN, Nick was doing something similar in the UK, Lynne joined soon after, team grew from there
  • The communication within OFN often feels like meeting up with mates
  • Andy explained that “Spaghetti code” is “code that is haphazardly designed and hard to maintain and understand”. Kirsten uses this metaphor to describe how OFN originally developed, due to limited resources. Some legacy issues are attributable to this.
  • A coherent global team began emerging in 2017
  • White label use of OFN: We might need to have a discussion about other organizations “violating the commons” by using the OFN platform unfairly

Dani - How do we manage platform improvements?

  • Wishlist comes from Discourse -
  • Voting through Discourse
  • Value-Effort prioritization
  • “papercuts” are the really low effort, but lower value things - they go through a separate system in github, since they tend not to win out in the Value-Effort matrix
  • Eriol will be working on this system, ensuring that the process is inclusive, data informed, etc.

Luis - Managing releases: what the devs do

  • Tech owners - usually the developer
  • ZenHub used on top of Github - adds a kanban board view
  • Issues (Epics/Bugs)
  • Pull Requests (PR) - tech owner makes a change to the code base
  • Main repository in GitHub is OpenFoodNetwork(Open Food Foundation), which contains the Rails app
  • Secondary repository in Github is OFN-Install
  • 8 production servers and 4 staging servers
  • Semaphore is used for automated code testing
  • A tester will deploy the new code to a staging server for testing
  • Ready-to-go status in ZenHub → integrate new code into Master Branch
  • Automatically deployed to currently-supported instances, available to non-supported instances

Kirsten - the global pot

  • There’s never enough money to pay everybody.
  • But there has been steady financial growth - 30% year-to-year, until COVID happened
  • COVID meant there was a spike and tail in terms of turnover
  • Currently set to run out of money in May 2021
    • 36,000 euro/month spent from the Global Pot, mostly spent on people
  • Last time we almost ran out of money, we decided it’s better to spend money to drive OFN forward and build potential funders’ confidence in the business model, rather than stretching thin to maintain an unsustainable business model for as long as possible
  • Pay scales are based on reasonable livelihood where the contributor lives, rather than pegging to industry standard - will discuss this more in the Global Pay Scale session

General discussion

  • Kirsten notes that OFN is building public infrastructure for a sustainable food system, and so it might not be appropriate to expect this public good to operate as a self-sufficient business
  • Lynne notes that most fundraising happens at the instance-level, so some instances are financially supporting the others through contributions to the global pot. We need to have a discussion about this to ensure we’re all on the same page. e.g. Maybe it’s right that instances in richer countries support instances in poorer countries, but we should clarify.
  • Lynne also notes that sometimes users want to pay for features that actually everybody wants, but there’s no system for making use of this currently.
  • Jen explains that we tried to join-up our sector development efforts at a global level at the last global gathering, but this isn’t really working currently. Lacking a global communications strategy re: who does what.
  • Laurie asks how it works for an instance to contribute to the virtual global pot. Kirsten and Lynne explain that a given instance would first fund the time of the global contributors in their own country (just to avoid unnecessary currency exchanges). It all goes through the spreadsheet Myriam developed and Kirsten now manages.
  • Jen asks in which sessions we’ll discuss whether we need to change things discussed today?
    • 2nd global governance session: already planned, we’ll begin identifying things to maybe change here
    • 3rd and 4th global governance sessions: not yet planned - we can discuss asynchronously how best to run these sessions, what needs to be covered
    • 5th global governance session: focus on tools
    • 6th global governance session: focus on legal structure of the global team
1 Like

magnificent notes @gen.shanahan - thank you so so much!!