I wrote the following in response to Mark Lawler's original post.
We've never met. I'm not currently on the board of Legion of Tech, but was one of the founding board members.
I currently am chair of the Open Source Bridge conference and am deeply involved in the open source community both in Portland and throughout the world.
It saddens me deeply to read what you've written.
As a person who devotes a substantial amount of her time to volunteering in technical communities, and is also a full-time software developer, I know that the volunteers who work on tech events are the life-blood of our community. Without them, and the incredible number of hours they volunteer, we would have no portland tech "scene", "community" or an environment that new tech companies or startups would consider being part of.
As points of reference around "decay" - Reductive Labs, a VC-funded startup that develops an open source product, moved to Portland because of our vibrant, diverse tech scene. Small Society, Raven Zachary's consultancy, stayed in Portland because he loves it here - and he is a fixture in our community. Urban Airship (VC funded) is made up of Pythonistas and advocates who have been regulars and organizers of user groups like PDX Python and a new-ish Django group. @al3x, a lead developer at Twitter, is moving to Portland from the bay area next month and will be joining Rael Dornfest, who develops the user experience for Twitter. ShopIgniter just got funded and is hiring.
These are just the examples I have off the top of my head - were I to consult the Silicon Florist blog, I'm sure a dozen more would immediately pop out.
When I look at our community, I see productivity, diversity, opportunity and passion. I see acceleration.
Drumming for consolidation seems to me to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what could be done further to best serve the needs of this community. That's what these volunteers do - they directly serve the needs of the Portland tech community.
Their goal isn't to be on a national radar - their goal is to be productive citizens, making the place that they live better. It's great when others notice, but we work for the gratitude of our neighbors and friends, not national recognition.
And, so, when thinking about the fragmentation, I recommend that you consider whether what you are saying and doing is providing a space and time for people to help their neighbors. Because that's ultimately what matters to us.
Have some feedback? Corrections? Ideas for other posts? Contact me @selenamarie.