WordCamp Portland – A Love Story

I have lived in Las Vegas for the past 7 years and I have said on many occasions since then that I don't think I could live anywhere else after living there. One weekend trip to Portland later and I believe I may have to amend that statement. In a word, Portland is awesome!

This trip to Portland, like so many of my trips this year, was based around attending a WordCamp event. When I stepped off the airplane and headed for ground transportation I found the first gem of the weekend. They call it Max. Max is the light rail tram system that will take you all around the Portland area for pretty darn cheap. You can buy a day pass for $4.75. I hopped on the tram and it dropped me off 1 block from the WebTrends offices where WordCamp was being held.

WebTrends definitely stands out as the second gem of my trip. They have a nice office on the 16th floor that they graciously donated to WordCamp to host the event. Apparently they are very active in the local Portland tech scene and are the hosts for a great number of local events. I have a hint for companies looking to get some exposure in the tech field, take a look at what WebTrends is doing. They are doing it right!

Then there is Aaron Hockley. This is his second go-round as the head organizer for a WordCamp event. Though I wasn't at the event last year, I can say that he sets the bar high for other cities looking to put on a WordCamp. He has an amazing group of people who help put together the event and the local community of businesses really step up with food and service donations that help to make the event a comfortable and welcoming environment for everybody. Having two kegs just inside the door certainly didn't hurt, either.

If you only look at the list of presenters posted on the site, you'd be missing more than half of the content available at the event. While I have seen the idea of “Unconference” style presentations at other WordCamp events, never have I seen a group of people take to it so well. I sat in on an excellent group discussion about WordPress and affiliate marketing.

I was able to get out and walk around a bit in Portland and check out some of the surrounding area. There were several groups putting on demonstrations in Pioneer Park including belly dancers, a group of people dancing with colored trash bags, a guy preaching to anyone who would listen (at full volume, I might add), several hacky-sack players and some guy who had a cat on a leash that looked like a cougar. All were cool/interesting in their own way.

But the biggest gem of them all has to be the people I met this weekend. Tons of amazingly nice people at WordCamp itself, the people I met at Pioneer Park, the shop keepers in the area… Everybody was friendly. At the end of my presentation somebody asked if I would move to Portland and become @PortlandGeek. “We don't ask just anybody”, she said.

So as I sit in the airport waiting on a plane to Vegas, I'm excited to get home and see my wife and kids, but I'm sad to be leaving such a great city and the amazing tech scene up here that has made me feel so welcome.

Thank you, Portland.

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  1. Aaron on September 20, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Thank you for coming up to Portland and presenting… folks didn't show up to hear me talk. I'm glad you enjoyed the event and it's always great to hear feedback from someone from outside of our usual local circles. See you next month at Blogworld!

  2. Steven Walling on September 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Portland was glad to have you! Thanks for the kind words and for helping make this year's WCPDX awesome. Hopefully we'll see you next year.

  3. AnMiTh on September 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Glad you enjoyed portland! We take it for granted, but it really is a great city!

  4. thesa chambers on September 20, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Portland is a great city – but Oregon as a whole is even greater – almost every area you wander into you will find help and a smile. You were a great part of WordCamp PDX and I for one appreciated your contribution – I am glad you felt welcome and hope you will visit or – if moving does come into the picture – you had several local real estate agents at WordCamp…. that I am sure would assist you.

  5. Kronda on September 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Glad you had a nice time. Your presentation was very informative and newbie friendly. Hope to see you back sometime. And sorry to nitpick, but it's Pioneer Square. 🙂

  6. dan on September 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Vegas is a technoculture wasteland compared to Portland. And I think the weather sucks too.

  7. Brandie on September 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Ahhh…. we loved having you here! It was great meeting you this weekend. And one of the reasons that discussion about affiliate marketing was so good was yours, and others', contributions to it!
    Have a great WordCamp Vegas! I'll be wearing my new shirt in your honor. (Is it possible to get another? *grin*)

  8. Michele Warther on September 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Happy to hear you enjoyed the conference and the city. Come back anytime!

  9. Mark McLaren on September 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Your presentation was excellent. So nice to have a guest who feels comfortable in front of an audience and has the material down cold. It was my first time in Portland, too – other than just driving through – and I have to say I share your impression. Great public transit, really nice people, an awesome WordPress community, and Matt Mullenweg just happens to stop by every now and then. What more could you want? Hope to see you there next year!

  10. shayne on September 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I couldn't have written it better…my thoughts exactly. We were actually throwing around the idea of moving after the trip to Portland this weekend….such a nice place. As always, good to see you and we had a great time at WordCamp as well.

  11. vegasgeek on September 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I just wanted to say a collective THANK YOU for all the awesome comments. I am very much looking forward to coming back to Portland. If I do, let's all get together for a beer! Sound good?

  12. Bridget Pilloud on September 22, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Hey, we really don't ask just anybody. Your presentation did a great job of spanning the needs of the audience, from people relatively new to plug-ins to those who had designed their own. I don't know that I will ever build a plug-in, but it's good knowing now that I can.

  13. Kevin on October 1, 2009 at 3:16 pm


    I just watched your video on the basics of building a WordPress plug-in. I just wanted to say thanks! It's good stuff!

  14. joecr on October 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Well I've watched it several times now & my only issue is that I didn't catch who to follow or what their name was as I wanted to learn from that & see what was wrong. To bad your video isn't subtitled on wordpress.tv at this point. Maybe update the page with the plugin so that the plugin has a comment about what not to do.

    • vegasgeek on October 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm

      The guy who was correcting my code issues during my presentation was Mark Jaquith. You can find him on twitter @markjaquith.

      I do plan on updating the code and making it available for download, but I just haven't had the time since returning from Portland.

  15. lisa on October 10, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Hi John,
    Glad you enjoyed Portland. Sorry I didn't get to see you. I was just there this week for a meeting too. It was absolutely beautiful. You would probably enjoy living there. (for awhile) Lots of action and only a short drive to the coast and other places to get out and enjoy nature. But a word of caution, it rains there. Alot. Portlanders get used to it I guess and may deny it, but I know where you come from. Thats why I stay on the other end of the state.