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Python

Python Gets Its First Community Communications Manager

Marie Nordin shared her vision for the role — and explained how her mission has its roots in her own journey through the open source community.
Nov 26th, 2023 6:00am by
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Last month, Fedora community architect Marie Nordin became the first community communications manager for the Python Software Foundation. In the PSF’s announcement, Nordin described herself as “thrilled” to “help amplify the stories and voices of the Python community.”

“We want to make sure we are telling our stories well,” Nordin said in an interview with The New Stack. And Nordin’s bringing her own unique life experiences to the role. “I’ve been involved with open source for 10+ years This is where I want to be, what I want to be doing.”

In June the PSF said the position would be “focused on strengthening our public-facing communications” and “expanding how we interact with and support our vast network of contributors, volunteers, and Python users.”

But what exactly does that entail? And will there be exciting new projects channeling passions from the larger Python community? Nordin shared her vision for the role — and explained how her mission has its roots in her own journey through the open source community.

And she also shares the lessons she’s learned along the way…

Marie Nordin (screenshot from her LinkedIn profile).

How to Grow a Community

Nordin first describes her role as “filling the gaps on PSF work.” The entire PSF team is just a dozen people — some working part-time. “That’s one of the stories we want to tell.” Nordin says.

For starters, some specific goals include making their newsletter less sporadic. (“With a communications person on, the idea is that it would be something consistent that people could rely on.”) There’s also the annual report, and communications with sponsors and donors — and Nordin also wants to clarify to the community all the benefits of PSF memberships.

In her first weeks, Nordin has already written several blog posts on their official blog — for example, announcing the seventh iteration of the Python Developers Survey or the PSF’s annual fundraiser. And she’ll eventually be writing everything from social media posts to the quarterly newsletter. (And there’s also the Annual Report and donor outreach campaigns.)

But beyond “communications,” there’s also “community building.” The role’s responsibilities? Finding new ways to interact with local and regional groups, while attracting new members and volunteers. So besides blasting out news about Python-related events, Nordin’s already hoping to establish a new process to amplify news and stories from the Python community — “those really cool stories, like the sending-shuttles-into-space sort of thing…

“I mean, an unending amount of projects are made with Python — really cool stuff that’s out there. And it’s very decentralized — people don’t necessarily go to one place to get the word on Python… But we’d like to be able to create at least a very good place to get that information.”

One idea is a new GitHub repository where “issues” can be used to share stories and amplify voices. “Everything from ‘Can you boost my tweet’ to ‘I have a full article-sized story to tell’ that we could then put on the PSF blog.” If not GitHub, there’s the Python forum at discuss.python.org, a Slack channel, and Python’s Discord channel — and it could even be a combination. Nordin told us there are hopes to have a prototype in place before PyCon US in May — to gather feedback from the community.

“It’s important to hear the community and understand their needs.”

A Place for Everybody

Nordin graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in visual media. But she sees her subsequent career as proof that the open source community has a place for everybody. Since 2013, Nordin’s done graphic design for the Fedora project (starting as an Outreachy intern in 2013), and since 2014 she’s been the design lead for Fedora Badges (the project’s contributor-recognizing website).

From 2019 to 2022, Nordin was Fedora community action and impact coordinator, eventually becoming a senior community architect at Red Hat (a position Nordin held from 2021 to 2023). “My experience in Fedora has proven to me time and time again that there are a multitude of skills that are invaluable to making an Open Source community successful and healthy,” she said.

Here are a few other questions we asked her:

How is being a Community Communications Manager different than your Community Architect position at Fedora?

The Fedora community is also huge, but in a different way — probably not as big as the Python community. There’s like millions and millions of downloads of Python, almost every day… There’s different sorts of people who are attracted to that community.

The main difference is in that role, I was responsible for almost everything community — running events, supporting teams, doing communications… Coordinating projects, processing all sorts of sponsors… I worked in collaboration with the Fedora Project Leader and the program manager, but as far as community stuff? I was doing it all. And here I’m very much focused on communications.

What made the PSF decide to add this role in 2023?

I think part of it has to do with freeing up time on the team — like there were enough little and big things piling up that it was taking a lot of a couple folks’ time, and they realized, ‘We could do a lot more if we brought someone one who would focus on this’

Are there any other interesting community-building projects coming up?

We want to do a little bit more engagement around PyCon US on the ground. This year it’s going to be held in Pittsburgh PA so I’ve been tasked with finding groups around Pittsburgh who we can attract to PyCon, whether it be like maybe a booth or we just invite their group of people to come and engage.

What would you like to say to the greater Python community? Are you happy to be here?

I am very happy to be here. When I was looking for a new role, the thing that I knew I really wanted to do work with community. I truly believe that one-on-ones with people, like the relationships that I build with people, make the most impact.

And I can’t wait to meet more folks in the community and help them realize their dreams — for the community and for Python the language, and what they want to do with it…

So how do you see that impact happening?

I think it’s the connection that you feel with the community. Just speaking from my own experience, I stayed in Fedora after my internship because of the connection I felt to the people, and my identity as an open source contributor and a Fedora project contributor. And I ended up contributing to Fedora for six years — unpaid, just doing graphic design — because I was appreciated for that work, and I was having fun with my friends. And that’s the kind of space I want to foster here in the Python community.

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