The significance of Philadelphia hosting the inaugural year of WordCamp US is not lost on me. I remember my first WordCamp very clearly. It was November of 2011. I was new to my job at YIKES and fairly new to the WordPress community. Eager to learn everything there is to know about WordPress, I awoke early to board the train to Temple University. As I entered the building, Tracy (my boss) was behind the registration desk holding my badge. There were coffee and donuts and … hundreds of people I didn’t know. Armed with my It’s Always Sunny WordCamp t-shirt I just received and a stack of business cards, I proceeded to mingle around the coffee table.
My first thought was that people were so welcoming, but I also noticed that most people had computers with them. Being a less-technical person in a super-technical world has its advantages, preferring to write with a pen and notebook is not always one of them. Now panic stricken because I was without my laptop, I immediately began to think that people would notice I was a newbie. Did I stand out? Did my lack of a messenger bag or a backpack riddled with tiny pins make me look funny? (Pins are a thing in the tech community I have learned, and it’s awesome.)
The sessions were about to start and I got seated at my desk ready to learn. As it turns out, all the preconceived notions in my head were false. I met people of various skill levels throughout the day and many had notebooks just like me. The one common thread throughout the group was the desire to learn. WordPress had brought this seemingly random, diverse group of people together. Here they were growing, learning, and creating websites that now run almost 25% of the internet. I didn’t know it at the time, but that atmosphere would become a safe haven for me.
So here were are, four years later and I’m lucky enough to be part of the organizing committee for WordCamp US. Being accepted into this group of wonderful and brilliant people has been enlightening in so many ways. What stands out for me is that the city of Philadelphia has become part of the WordPress community. It’s part of the organizing team just as much as I am.
The home of democracy is the perfect setting to host an event for a software with democratic principals. When the announcement was made that Philadelphia was selected to host WordCamp US, I was excited and incredibly nervous. What could Philadelphia do to thank the WordPress community for this honor? As time progressed it became a bit clearer. The answer is to give back to the WordPress community. The city of Brotherly Love can easily embrace a group of people that proclaim, “Code is Poetry”.
Philly, get ready because WordCamp US is almost here. You can still purchase tickets and experience the same joy I did at my first WordCamp. Bring a notebook or a laptop and surround yourself with information and knowledge. Thank you for selecting Philly to host WordCamp in 2015 and 2016. We will do you proud, WordPress 🙂
P.S. There are still opportunities to sponsor this historic event! We would love to have you!
Inspired by Helen Hou-Sandí’s WordCamp Philly keynote, “How I convinced my boss to let me work on WordPress full-time,” we’ve decided to donate a collective 5 hours a week to the WordPress Open Source Project.
We want to give back to the project and community that provides a free, open source and fantastic software platform to build and maintain great websites. We decided to start with 5 hours a week with the goal to increase those hours in the future.
Tracy Levesque contributes time as the co-lead of the WordPress Training Project (aka Theme School). The project’s goal is to create WordPress-approved, classroom-style curriculum instructors can use to hold in-person WordPress classes and workshops. She is also involved with initiatives to bring more diversity to the WordPress Community and newly obsessed with designing Dashicons.
Programmers, Evan Herman and Carlos Zuniga, spend time combing through trac tickets, testing code and submitting patches. Evan also helps out on the support forums. He even received an in-person thank you at WordCamp NYC from a person he recently gave assistance to.
We are excited to make our commitment to helping build the software we use every day and supporting the vibrant community surrounding it official.