Ben Armstrong

Secretary 2018-2019, Co-Secretary 2017-2018, Board member 2016-2017

My work & vision for WRWEO

After serving as Co-Secretary 2017-2018, I’m serving again as Secretary for 2018-2019. I’m passionate about assisting with our website and all tech-related things in order to help WRWEO achieve its goals. I feel when we smartly apply the right technologies, we can work more effectively within our limited means, both as individuals and as a team. This is what I continue to offer to each board member each year I serve:

I’m here to help you remove (tech) barriers to getting your work done.

Or putting it another way: for some, their barrier is not being equipped for their work, for others, the tools themselves are the barrier, and for others still, their barrier is the lack of the right tool and person to wield it. Whatever the barrier, if there’s a tech component, I strive to help find the best solution so we can get our jobs done.

My commitment to openness and education

I believe when we leave a clear and transparent record of both our failures and successes, we can keep momentum from year to year, wasting as little time as possible re-discovering how to do what we do, and do it well, even as old friends leave and new join us.  Thus, while working out achievable tech solutions for conservation problems for our small trails group, I’m always thinking ahead to the next time we do something similar, or when the faces are all new, or to helping our allies cover the same ground. I try to steer people towards proven solutions based on open technologies that have worked for others, shape them to our particular needs, and then share back whatever improvements were needed to make them work for us.

Looking ahead

There is a lot of work ahead of us. I’m pleased the Bluff Trail Stewardship Program was able to prove itself effective in its first year of operation, and that I contributed in some small way to that. That makes me even more eager to put in another year of effort, whether that’s bodily on the trail, or behind my keyboard at home, to help this wonderful, caring community effectively steward what is entrusted to us to look after.


Personal background

I am a hiking and photography enthusiast, a professional computer programmer with roots in the free software movement, and a lover of nature.

My childhood fascination with computers grew to a keen interest starting during my teenage years in using tech to bridge the divide between technology “haves” and technology “have-nots”. I have always taken pleasure in both in problem solving, and in helping others pick up new skills with computers. This found its fullest expression first in my work helping community groups establish a web presence on Chebucto Community Net in the nineties, followed soon after by a two decades long tenure with Debian, working as free software developer to put Linux in the hands of children through the Debian Jr. project, and casual Linux users through the Debian Live project.

From a chance encounter in 2014 on the Bluff Trail with Nanci Lee (co-chair at the time) while hiking with a friend, sprang an interest in further realizing that vision in the area of nature conservation. What started as some helpful suggestions to improve the web site led to me enthusiastically jumping in during the 2015-2016 board year to take on administration of the website, and then finally joining the board in 2016-2017. All the while, I continued to visit the trail as often as I could, and have been particularly inspired by the examples set by Paul Berry and Kimberly Berry to attain to a higher standard of living sustainably, and take more direct action to preserve our natural assets.