Earlier this month, I attended the second annual WordCamp US, which was held in Philadelphia, PA. This was my second time there, but this this time was different for me because my I was returning with a completely different perspective. In 2015, I was pretty new to the WordPress community and went in not really knowing what to expect. This time around, I showed up eager to attend with all sorts of plans and expectations.
My preliminary plans may have been a little ambitious. I knew that what I wanted to do and what I could do would not be an even match, but I tried. I really did. I am not going to say that everything I set out to do was a wash, but I did walk away from the weekend’s events with a different way of looking at things as far as connecting with people and building a sense of community goes.
There were talks that I really wanted to see in person. I wanted to see them, but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t well and found myself on the sidelines for a good portion of the conference. I did manage to see a few talks on design, color theory, user experience and Lauren Comito’s Libraries Love WordPress talk, which was really awesome because I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the importance of libraries in communities. The State of Word was great because it was encouraging to see the importance stressed on how we can come together on a larger scale when it comes to helping others and building a sense of community.
I had moments throughout WordCamp US where I clearly was not feeling well and despite my many failed attempts to convince Sal Ferrarello and Lauren Pittenger otherwise, they kept an eye on me and made sure that I was okay. Ruthie Floats sat with me in the hallways and kept me company until I sent her away to go check out some of the talk sessions. I even had my good friend Andy Stitt check up on me the entire weekend. From making sure I got to and from everywhere I wanted and needed to be in one piece, or something like helping me find soup, he was there and helped me stick it out because he knew how important is was for me to hang in for as long as I could.
Too often, we are surrounded by people who act like they are concerned about your well-being out of self-interest and totally disappear if you don’t fit into their grand scheme of things. That is definitely not the case when it comes to hanging with WordPress people, especially within the burbsWP community.
That weekend was was when I truly realized that I am actually a part of this whole WordPress community thing. I’ve been active lately in other tech groups in the area where I felt involved, but the genuine concern and support shown from people at WordCamp US really affected and left a lasting impression on me.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
I met and connected with awesome people throughout the weekend. Whether it was during a volunteer shift, sitting out in the hallways or elsewhere, it was great to be a part of the WordCamp US festivities in some capacity. As planned, I did get to catch up with my friends Adam Warner, and Isabelle García. I didn’t get to do an interview with her, but introduced her to James Burke who was very excited to sit in my place.
Meeting Social Media royalty was pretty awesome. I’ve been following Ileane Smith for a very long time so I just had to get a selfie with her. Besides, we look too good to not share this pic. 🙂
I got to meet #CodeNewbie Twitter Chat friend Ray Mitchell and we had a nice chat about a variety of things that ranged from networking, to public speaking, to inclusion and diversity within WordPress and other tech communities. I caught up with fellow WordCamp Baltimore organizer, Anthony D Paul which was fun because he was able to introduce me to some really awesome people helping behind the scenes to make WordCamp Baltimore a success.
I even had a face-to-face with Bridget Willard, and Jen Miller from WomenWhoWP, which gave me the opportunity to meet Justine Pretorious, Sherie and Cheryl LaPrade, and other women that are very active in the WordPress community. Connecting in person with Bridget was awesome because she introduced me to Matt Cromwell, Devin Walker and the other members that make up the GiveWP team. I really enjoyed the camaraderie, laughs that were shared, and encouragement to contribute more and give back to others.
Thoughts overall on WordCamp US 2016.
After comparing notes with others, it really feels like everyone is on board with being more mindful of what WordPress is supposed to be about – providing space for everyone to have their voice heard.
I always get to see firsthand in the burbsWP meetups how helpful and welcoming everyone can be, but I found it comforting to see so many people meeting for the first time at WordCamp US from different parts of the country and the world were all there for the same reason – to help each other in some capacity.
Outside of the WordCamps and meetups, it feels like we as a community are moving forward with helping others by giving back to businesses, worthy social causes, and to the end users.
Hold up. Wait.
Oh! I forgot to mention… getting to meet Matt Mullenweg again was pretty cool too. 🙂
Thanks for the special recap mentions:
Andy Stitt | WordCamp US 2016 Recap: Thank You For the Seat At the Table
Justine Pretorious | WordCamp US 2016 – What An Adventure