Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Embodying the spirit of the LCA volunteer

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Thirteen years have gone by since the first Australian national Linux conference was held, but the event is still driven by the same category of people: volunteers.


A great many things are organised very professionally, but it's all done by people who have boundless enthusiasm and who work selflessly, often for a whole year, just to make sure that things run on schedule.

There are all kinds of people who give of their time but few embody the spirit of the volunteer better than Kathy Reid.

Reid (below) was diagnosed with cancer just after the Melbourne Software Freedom Day in 2010, an event with which she was involved.

She subsequently underwent surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy.  She is still undergoing treatment and it will be something like four years before she could be said to be in remission.
Kathy Reid
But she is undeterred by this. Last year she started planning  BarCampGeelong from her hospital bed, and convened the first unconference in Geelong while still near-bald in July 2011.

This is the first time that Reid is volunteering for an LCA but she has been involved with other free software and open source software events - Software Freedom Day in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and the two camps mentioned above.

A resident of Geelong, she helps handle media relations for the LCA and also looks after the conference wiki. Liaising with those who are organising the speakers and the mini-conferences to sort out any issues that arise is also her responsibility.

"It's a great mix of technical and people-oriented tasks - you need to be fairly motivated and self-sufficient to do this sort of role. It's also great to know you've got the back-up and support of previous years' organisers - called 'Ghosts' - to help you out if you get stuck with an issue," Reid says.

"Josh's (Stewart, conference director) leadership style is also really attuned to this sort of event - he's very calm, laid back and diplomatic - and gently eases people toward an outcome while being consultative".

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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