An Open Letter from Sahana’s Mark Prutsalis

Heather and Noel–

First and foremost:  Thank you!

Your shared vision, passion and energy made CrisisCommons a sustainable force for good in the world.  We will all miss your active leadership in the CrisisCommons community.  I know you will be incredibly successful at whatever you decide to apply yourself to in life.

I wanted to share with the community how I became one of the first CrisisCampers, attending the inaugural CrisisCamp DC event in June 2009.  It came, appropriately enough, through twitter.  I had become increasingly aware of the planned CrisisCamp through its promotion on twitter by those like-minded individuals interested in helping the victims of disaster with technology – a field I have been in for close to 20 (gasp!) years now.  But I wasn’t planning on attending – it being all the way in Washington, DC and me living so far away (spur sarcasm) in Brooklyn, NY – until one of my own Sahana community members from India tweeted me asking whether I was going to go to the CrisisCamp.  It made me pause and think that this event might be different, if people from half way around the world had heard of it and were interested in attending – an event I had considered until that time to be a very insular and too inside-the-beltway focused to be of any value.  So I took a look at the eventbrite link (which is still up there today: http://crisiscamp.eventbrite.com).

What struck me about the event was not just the vision and agenda for the event, but who was coming that marked it as significant – with significant representation from the US Government, the World Bank, technology companies, academic and research groups, and an incredible number of individuals with experience – some of these people I knew personally, others I knew of professionally and others I wanted to get to know.  So I made plans to attend, packed up my family in the car and drove to DC for the weekend.  At the Ignite sessions on Friday evening at the World Bank, I met Noel and Heather for the first time, and we’ve since become close allies professionally and friends personally.  Along with Andrew, they share a vision for a Commons and have always balanced well the need for leadership with the independence of the community.
Sometimes I thought that they needed to step up and be more decisive about making decisions – but they understood their role was to bring people to the table – not to direct.  CrisisCommons has become a far more resilient and successful organization than I could ever have imagined because of the blood, sweat and tears that they put into it.

And it has spurned on other efforts such as Random Hacks of Kindness and the Standby Task Force.

I know this is not a community that feels comfortable directly credit at individuals, but every time someone attends a CrisisCamp, a RHOK, a GWOB hackathon, or supports a deployment of the Standby Task Force, they have Heather and Noel to thank, in part, for that opportunity to make the world a better place.

I know I do.

Love bombs right back at you.

Best regards,
Mark

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