Yesterday, Rob Stuart, one of the founding individuals of the NTEN community, passed away.
Many of you won't ever have had the pleasure of meeting Rob, but when NTEN was founded, over a decade ago, Rob Stuart was at the table, shaping the vision of what NTEN could become. Back then, we could fit all the people who cared about nonprofit technology in a single room – and Rob knew them all.
Of course, a single room full of people wasn't enough for Rob. Rob built movements. So he took out his Palm Pilot, worked his address book, and started evangelizing. He would literally walk up to strangers and start talking about the benefits of technology for the social change sector.
Today, the NTEN community could fill a stadium. If you've ever used the NTEN discussion list to get an answer to a question, if you've sat down at a lunch table at the NTC and met a person who could help you with your latest challenge, you've experienced his legacy.
That's certainly what I learned from Rob. Shortly before I became ED of NTEN, I had coffee with Rob in our old San Francisco office. He asked a lot of questions about what we were up to. After a while, he tilted his head to the side, and in in typical Rob fashion, told me exactly what he thought. "You guys are doing it wrong. You're educating people, sure. But it's about the community. You need to get out in the sector and build the community."
It took a community to build the community that NTEN has become. Rob Stuart was at the center of that.
I've seen conversations on Facebook and elsewhere about Rob's impact. I'd love to hear your comments here, and also learn about how you think we might recognize Rob at the next NTC and beyond.
I think it's fitting that the community should help us choose how to memorialize Rob.