“WordPress is People.”
That was the underlying theme of this year’s WordCamp Denver, but it’s also the theme of the WordPress community in general. Many of us who consider this amazing community “family” (myself included!) have our own stories of the odd, unexpected, serendipitous journey that led us here.
Many of us worked for years with WordPress, isolated on our own proverbial island, before we even discovered the WordPress community exists! But whether it was finding an answer in the .org forums, reading a helpful tutorial posted by someone who’s been there done that, or just referenced the Codex to learn the inner workings of a theme function: we’ve all benefited from community contributions in some way. And that experience is what drives many of us to give back to the community ourselves.
There were so many thoughtful and personal touches that went into this year’s camp, it was obvious the organizers and volunteers have a deep connection and love for the community.
At last year’s WordCamp Denver, Jonathan Mann debuted his song, “WordPress is People (Do The WordPress Wiggle)”, a ridiculously catchy song and video that quickly became the unofficial dance of the WordPress People. The song celebrates the WordPress experience, telling the story of a few people who decided to share their code with the world, and accidentally created a community and tool that now powers 33% of the web.
This year, WCDenver attendees and volunteers got together and added some sweet moves to the video, with dances breaking out both in the official Wiggle Booth and in various places throughout the campus. Check out the video!
At 2:00 we were ushered into the auditorium with promises of a “special surprise” – and out onto the floor rolled Saul, the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for Largest Sticker Ball ON THE PLANET. In true community spirit, Sticker Giant has been rolling this baby through TSA security for over 2 years, to appear at events and invite everyone to participate by slapping on their own stickers. Learn the full story of Saul the Largest Sticker Ball on the Sticker Giant website!
Like all WordCamps, the day was packed with sessions, with plenty of sessions for WordPress beginners starting their own journey in the community.
In her talk ‘My Website Is Live, Now What Do I Do With It?’ Michele Butcher-Jones discussed the problems with neglecting content on your website, and gave answers to a lot of questions important to new site owners [slides]. And WordPress developer Bruce Wampler gave a talk on a topic on which we are ALL beginners: integrating Gutenberg into your theme! And I jumped in in the afternoon for a speaker who couldn’t make it last minute, thus debuting my talk, “Intro to WooCommerce” — during which we discussed 5 essential planning topics of building a WooCommerce site. Slides are on SlideShare if you want to learn the secrets!
Sunday was reserved for a half-day of immersive workshops, where attendees and presenters discussed topics from Freelance to Agency, SEO, Theme Development, wp-cli, and more! Everyone gathered round for a solid 3-hour intimate workshop experience that encouraged attendee participation and questions, and it was a great way to wind down the weekend.
The day ended with an inspiring keynote by @askwpgirl, Angela Bowman. She talked about the journey that led her to finding the WordPress community, how a seemingly bad turn of events ultimately led her to so many treasured friendships and life experiences beyond having “just a job”.
Angela identified that people come to WordPress with hope: hope for their business, for their careers, for their hobbies. And at WordCamps, she said, there is a sense of safety and security and belonging that many do not expect. Somehow, with all of us together, we realise we can learn more than we could ever learn on our own. And that builds family. Someone challenged us to take more of these unexpected paths by getting to know eachother on a personal level. Instead of thinking, what can you give me? Instead ask, how can I help you? You never know what impact you’re going to have on other people. You could change someone else’s life and you don’t know that, and they could change yours.
Cheers to everyone who worked so hard to make this WordCamp a success! I can’t wait for next year!