[mendicant-community] Thinking about sunsetting Mendicant

Gregory Brown gregory_brown at letterboxes.org
Sat Feb 16 17:03:50 PST 2013

Hi folks,

Ever since I stepped down as Mendicant's lead organizer, I've wondered
what would happen to the school and its community. The good thing is
that many of the projects that either started here or were incubated
here are still alive and well. Just of the top of my head, I can think
of the following:

- Mission of Mercy
- Main Street Mission
- Practicing Ruby
- rstat.us (which is somewhat independent, but still supported by
Mendicant folks (particularly Carol))
- Puzzlenode (might be starting up again soon)
- The Ruby Documentation project

If we dug deeper, I'm sure that we could find plenty more projects that
are currently being actively worked on by our alumni and friends that in
some large or small way got a push from the Mendicant experiment. One
thing is for certain, our two years of formal teaching / studying
activities have started a ball rolling that isn't going to stop any time

However, if you look at what is left of Mendicant itself, there isn't
much to see here. We do have some nice conversations and activities here
on this mailing list once in a blue moon, and every couple months I try
to think of a way to "start things back up" (such as the summer camp
idea I posted that got very few replies :-/), or I hear someone else
suggesting that we ought to. But in reality, we'll simply never be what
we were before (nor should we be), and we'll never recreate our original
vision (which was never very well defined, anyway). With that in mind, I
think it may be a good time to retire Mendicant University as a meeting
place and umbrella project for all of our various efforts.

I worry that if we do not officially sunset Mendicant at some point,
it'll continue to stick around in just a functional-enough form to
prevent us from building up momentum on something better that could
potentially replace it. I also worry that we'll become increasingly
ill-defined, and so "Mendicant" will not really end up meaning anything
anymore (arguably, that has already happened to a large extent).

But if we decided we wanted to officially close down the school's
community and give it a proper farewell, it might serve the useful
purpose of looking at it's various sub-projects and spin-off projects,
and decide whether each could possibly continue on as a standalone
project. It would also force us to think about what might serve as a
suitable replacement for the  virtual "water cooler" that our IRC
channel and mailing list provide.

I was thinking of officially closing the school on it's third birthday,
June 3, 2013. Between now and then, we could think about how to bid it a
proper farewell, and how to point people at the various projects and
communities that have emerged as stand alone efforts that once were tied
to Mendicant in some way. We could also think about how we might be able
to stay connected with each other in the post-Mendicant world.

I know this is not the common way of doing things: in the open-source
world and on the web the standard practice it is common for projects to
linger indefinitely in a not-quite-alive but not-quite-dead state.
However, I feel like because we really had something extremely special
here, and because the future is still bright for the efforts that arose
from Mendicant, it'd be best for us to put some effort into putting a
proper finish to this experiment of ours. In doing so, it might inspire
us to find new beginnings together.


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