Sustain Working Groups

At the 2020 Sustain Summit, dozens of small groups met and discussed all aspects of what sustainability means. At the end of the day, we decided to hold these conversations going forward, and to ensure that what we learned didn't stay in a single room. These working groups stemmed from those efforts, or from conversations had by Sustainers around the same time.

All of our work and organizing is open source. If you're interested in a working group, want to get involved and help out, or want to found your own working group around sustainability and code, get in touch and let us know.

These groups are active! Give a shout if you want to be involved. Learn more in their profiles below.

Governance Guidance

How can we guide developers to create efficient governance models?

Bottom liner: Javier Cánovas, Greg Bloom

Learn More

Back Your Stack

How can we give back to OSS projects that we already use at our work? What does our stack look like, and who among our dependencies is looking for funding?

Bottom liner: Alyssa Wright

Learn More


Who writes, uses, and updates the docs? What do sustainable-first docs look like? How can we write better ones?

Bottom liner: Chris Chinchilla

Learn More

Design and UX

How can we make open source design and user experience sustainable, too? What does sustainability mean for code-adjacent territories?

Bottom liner: Rotates monthly

Learn More


What is licensing, anyway? What's the current state of the ecosystem, where are we going, and how can we talk about licenses without flipping over the proverbial dinner table?

Bottom liner: Benjamin Nickolls

Learn More


What does an open source developer have to do to find new users, more sponsors, and better swag? What is sustainable marketing for open source?

Bottom liner: Richard Littauer


Is Open Source ethical? What are the ramifications of bad actors in open source, and how can we work together to move beyond ethical boulders on the path to sustainability?

Bottom liner: Chris Chinchilla

Learn More

Academic and Specialized Projects

Open source doesn't just mean web development. How does sustainability relate to academic and specialized projects that have different needs and users?

Bottom liner: Yo Yehudi

Open Source Funders

There's no current database of how much money goes into open source: we want to build this. Follow the money - where does it come from, where does it go, and how useful are different avenues of funding for open source projects at scale.

Bottom liner: Richard Littauer

Learn More


These groups are in the works, but either haven't had significant work or haven't had their first meeting. If you're interested in joining one, get in touch!

Motivating Contributors

How can we best harness the power of contributors in open source? What turns a drive-by committer into a long-lasting maintainer?

Bottom liner: Richard Littauer

Learn More

Climate Emergency

Sustainability doesn't just mean code. How can we make our work sustainable environmentally, too? How can we share our knowledge of open source with other groups in the world?

Bottom liner: Richard Littauer

Learn More

Business Models for Individual OS Devs

For individual developers, what does sustainability look like? How can developers get money for their projects, taking them out of the abandon-ware and hobbyist stage?

Bottom liner: Agost Biro

Learn More

Membership models for OSS

What do models of membership look like, specifically for organisations developing FLOSS? How can we all be involved?

Bottom liner: Gabriela Rodríguez Berón

2020 Sustain Summit Report

It was great, everyone loved it, but - what happened at the 2020 Sustai Summit for those of us who weren't there, or who were busy thinking about a couple of hard problems in open source? How can we further Sustain's goals, going forward?

Bottom liner: Benjamin Nickolls

Personas on Sustainability

Who are sustainers, anyway? What does it mean to sustain a project? How can we use persona development to learn more about the needs of all of the stakeholders in open source?

Bottom liner: Jacob Redding

Learn More

Sustainability Readiness

How can we ensure that a new open source project is born sustainable? What steps can be put into place to fight entropy in both code and governance structures in open source?

Bottom liner: Erin McKean

Leadership Development

What does it take to be an open source leader? How do leaders emerge, and what can we learn about what makes leaders effective? What are the pressures and issues that leaders face, and how can we mitigate them through active development?

Bottom liner: Farbod Saraf

Concluded groups

These groups have run their course, for now. However, there's always the possibility of ramping them back up, if you've got the initiative for it.

FOSS Responders

How can the Open Source ecosystem respond to Covid-19? How can we help developers who are losing money, jobs, and conferences?

Bottom liner: Duane O'Brien, Megan Byrd-Sanicki, Richard Littauer, and Alyssa Wright

Learn More

Transparency Goals

Good corp, bad corp: what does sustainability and ethical practices mean for corporations who run OSPOs or who use open source code?

Bottom liner: Duane O'Brien

Learn More

Principles of Authentic Participation

What are the core set of principles for what authentic participation means in multiple contexts (e.g. corporate, individual, humanitarian/NGOs, etc.), as it relates to OSS code?

Bottom liner: Justin W. Flory

Learn More

Governance Readiness

What does healhty governance look like? How can we improve our day-to-day work, identify barriers and needs, and intervene where new governance structures are needed?

Bottom liner: Javier Cánovas

Learn More

Community Principles & Ostrom Redux

Elinor Ostrom laid out principles of healthy communities for governing the commons. How can we apply her Nobel-prize winning research to the world of open source?

Bottom liner: Greg Bloom

Learn More