Well, here we are. It's a Monday afternoon after a WordCamp weekend. I'm mostly caught up on my emails and it's the time of day where my mind starts to wonder back to all the great things that took place over the weekend. This time it was WordCamp Orange County. There were some great sessions, the after party was a blast (of course), I had some great conversations in the hallways and at a few meals. But two specific events are really sticking out for me now and I wanted to share.
Big C and little c
I was excited when I looked on the schedule for Saturday and saw that Brad and Dre would be recording an episode of the Dradcast. As much as I like to see presentations, I think the format of a “conversation” is incredibly valuable as well and I wanted to see how it worked out. Spoiler alert, I really enjoyed it.
If you aren't familiar with the format of the Dradcast, each week they pick somebody from the community to come on and host the show. That person will typically do a 1-2 minute monologue that ends with “… I'm [speaker name] and the Dradcast starts now.” Very similar to Saturday Night Live's kick off each week. The live version was no different, and they picked Chris Lema to provide the kickoff.
During Chris' monologue he talked about Community. (I'm likely going to butcher his exact points, but you'll get the idea.) He talked about how there are those of us who travel to WordCamps or attend local meetups and we're deeply engaged. We know lots of members in the group and we easily hop from conversation to conversation because we're comfortable with everybody who's there. He referred to us as the Big C in community.
But what about the little c. Those people who are new to the group. Maybe it's their first WordCamp or meetup. They've got questions, but maybe they're hesitant to ask, or don't know if it's OK to just speak up. These are the little c's.
The little c's are certainly no less important to the group. We were ALL that little c at one point. It's likely that little c, with a little bit of hospitality and encouragement will become a regular part of the group rather than being scared off.
Becoming part of an existing group can be intimidating. Many times established groups can feel like cliques in high school. It's our job as the Big C's at the events to welcome those little c's and help turn them in to Big C's.
WordCamps and Meetups Matter!
On Sunday, I spent the bulk of the day in the overflow room at WordCamp. Even though he was organizing WordCamp, Brandon was taking some time to help out with a plugin I've been working on.
The room was being used by a handful of other people to do some one-on-one WordPress help. Just another awesome aspect of the WordPress community. I wasn't paying a lot of attention to what all was going on because, well, I was tired, a bit hungover and trying to learn by watching Brandon work on the plugin. Probably not the best combo. But it is what it is.
During a break in the coding, I heard one of the ladies thanking one of the volunteers for putting on the event. The volunteer quickly deflected the praise towards Brandon as the organizer of the event. He said “You're very welcome”, and normally this is where that would end. But not this time.
The lady went on to explain that the information she had just received from the volunteer helped her solve a problem for a client/friend who she's had for a very long time. The client's site was in a state where it was starting to get brittle and vulnerable. She felt horrible that her client's site was in such as state, even though it was likely no fault of her own. She had lost sleep over it. As she explained the situation, you could sense the passion she had for making and keeping her clients happy.
As she got up to leave, she walked over towards Brandon. With tears in her eyes she thanked him again for organizing the event.
Let that sink in for a sec.
She was moved to tears that she found a place to ask a question and get the help she needed. Not for herself, but help she needed to help somebody else.
These couple of moments from this weekend meant a lot to me as a WordCamp/Meetup organizer and as a community member. I'm proud to be part of a community that gives back so abundantly. What we do matters. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded of that.
photo credit: naillkennedy on flickr
Well, now I have tears in *my* eyes! WordPress events both build and sustain the community; what all community-minded WordCamp and meetup organizers do really does matter very much, and usually affects more people than we realize. 🙂 Yay!
@andrea, it got a little dusty in here while I was writing it, too.
You’ve made me cry a few times as well, but for different reasons;-)
Great post and definitely a great community. I like the Big C and little c idea. It’s an important one and one that’s hard to overcome.
I get that a lot, John. 🙂
I too was at this WordCamp and it always blows me away to see so many “competitors” gathered in one location not only freely sharing their knowledge with one another, but also sharing ideas to make others businesses and products better, or even pitching in and providing code patches. Big firms, little firms, freelancers, and hobbyists all sharing knowledge together. What other Community would you find that in? GO WordPress!
The point Chris made is perfectly good, but his view of the little ‘c’ is likely inaccurate by a long, long way. Voluntary associations always have a very small, 1% core group and a few slightly bigger layers clustered around it. The bulk of people are in those outer layers where they are relatively disengaged from the core community on a social/networking/conference/direct communication level. There is always movement across all these levels, but the big outer layer is mostly people who never get deeper in and leave at some point. In the WP world this would be the numerous freelancers, agencies, and DIY folks who use multiple platforms like WP or shift from one to another over a period of years. This shouldn’t be viewed as a problem; it’s just how groups work when there are no/low barriers to entry and exit. There are many ways people contribute that do are not direct or obvious as explicit involvement in the big-c “Community.”