FOSS4G-NA 2015 starts today in Burlingame, California, and I could not be more excited. These conferences are such an excellent way to follow the great projects our peers are working on, glean information from what they’ve learned, and share our own experiences working in open source geospatial. And with so many interesting talks, it’s sure to be a busy week.

Image from Maptime DC

But if it’s your first time at a geo conference, or even your first time at FOSS4G, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There are so many talks and so many people: it’s hard to know where to start!

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be giving a talk at FOSS4G-NA called On-Ramps to Open Source, 11:15 a.m. in Regency A. My goal is to help you make heads and tails of the open source geospatial landscape; there are a lot of roads you can go down to get to the open mapping highway, and I want to give you some directions. By the end of this talk, you should have a better understanding of what tools you can use for certain projects and how to get started using those tools.

This talk coincides with the recent launch of Mapbox Education, our effort to make Mapbox totally free for students and teachers. We want everyone to have a chance to experiment with our tools, and Mapbox Education is a huge stride in that direction. If you’re interested in helping make it great, come to my Mapbox Education Birds of a Feather session on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Regency C. If you’re teaching with Mapbox tools, or would like to, come share your experiences. What works and what doesn’t? What resources can we provide to support you?

What would a geo conference be without an appearance from Maptime? On Thursday at 1:45 p.m. in Regency A, come see me and Beth Schechter from Stamen talk about this open source community movement in What Time Is It? It’s Maptime!. Our talk will focus on what we’ve discovered through facilitating an open-source geospatial learning community, and we’ll give guidance on starting a Maptime or other educational project in your city.

As more and more people join the mapping family, we become stronger, grow faster, and have the opportunity to learn so much from each other. This week at FOSS4G-NA 2015, let’s build our skills, foster some new friendships, and make our community more welcoming for newcomers. If you want to chat Mapbox Education or really anything this week, hit me up at @lyzidiamond or lyzi@mapbox.com.