Episode 169

Dawn Wages of PSF on organizing communities, ethical licenses, and more


April 21st, 2023

36 mins 45 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Dawn Wages


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. Today, Richard is very excited to have as his guest, Dawn Wages, who’s the Python Community Advocate at Microsoft, Core Team Member for Wagtail, DjangoCon Organizer, and Director and Treasurer for the Python Software Foundation. We’ll hear Dawn’s journey into how she got involved with the PSF and as a Python Community Advocate at Microsoft, she explains how to become a PSF member, as well as the benefits, since they’ve made some changes recently. She explains where she falls on the ethical source divide and dives into the AntiRacist Ethical Source License, which is her niche. Also, she shares advice on how communities can be more sustainable at navigating conflict in their communities and reveals that we should lead with empathy. If you’re looking at going to a conference this year, there’s some great DjangoCon’s and a PyCon going on that are worth checking out. Hit download now to hear more!

[00:03:31] We hear how Dawn got involved with the PSF and how she became the Python Community Advocate at Microsoft.

[00:05:23] Dawn shares why foundations in the open source space seem to continually have this community voting way of entering into the board, if she thinks it’s healthy, and if she thought about it when she was working on Django’s new process.

[00:08:27] Both dollars and time are things which are often barriers to entry for DEI, so how does that help diversity, equity, and inclusion versus how it hurts it? Also, we hear about Wagtail and Torchbox and what they do.

[00:11:40] Dawn mentioned that the PSF lowered the dollar amount and Open Collective, so now we hear the benefits it gives to an individual to become a member of the PSF, if that’s something people should think about if they’re working in Python, and if it’s possible to join on behalf of the project and not their company.

[00:13:30] We hear about a tool called, Fiscal Sponsoree, with the PSF.

[00:14:50] Dawn fills us in on DjangoCon 2023, the financing structure for keeping Django going, how they think about sustainability in their community, and DjangoCon Africa 2023.

[00:16:51] What does a sponsored chair do?

[00:19:04] Richard wonders how Dawn thinks about the return on investment for her ultimate strategy, why these conferences, and what’s the ultimate narrative arc for her seventh season open source Bajor story. Also, she explains why she’s the treasurer.

[00:22:56] Richard explains what the Ethical Source Movement is and wonders how Dawn holds the tension and where she falls on the ethical source divide.

[00:24:37] We hear Richard’s opinion on one of the problems with open source requiring a huge layout of upfront investment in hours and time and no guarantee that it will pay off, and the work being detrimental to mental health of people working on it. Dawn talks about the Anti-Racist License and explains the “PIES” check-in.

[00:28:12] Dawn shares advice on how to help communities be more sustainable at navigating trauma and conflict in their communities without it becoming a drain on resources.

[00:31:00] Listen here for a list of conferences you should go to that are Python and Django and where you can follow Dawn on the web.


[00:08:58] “Open source is not accessible for everyone, and it’s not a great method for everyone. It is people who have support elsewhere somehow.”

[00:26:34] “I think there are tools we can use to be able to acknowledge the humanity of the individuals contributing, and being flexible and thoughtful about the goals we are trying to meet as a collective, and the goals the individual is trying to contribute or try to receive.”


  • [00:33:21] Richard’s spotlight is his friend, Danielle Garber, who’s a personal coach and makes amazing hand woven things.
  • [00:34:08] Dawn’s spotlight is Jeff Triplett, Director of PSF, and Coraline Ada Ehmke, lead organizer for the Organization for Ethical Source.



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