Many moons ago, one of our fearless leaders at WebDevStudios, Brad Williams, started the local Philly WordPress Meetup. Not too soon after, he and a group of brilliant local folks laid the foundation for WordCamp Philly. Touted (by me) as one of the most successful WordCamps in the world, most people tend to agree that WordCamp Philly lives up to the city’s motto: City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.
For the past few years, I have had the pleasure of helping organize this event in addition to the two years we hosted WordCamp US in our city. Each year, Philly opens its arms to the community and garnishes praise like the following:
What else makes Philly WordCamp so awesome? Well, this year we did it Halloween weekend. Philly WordCamp was held October 27th and 28th at the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. (It’s impossible to write that sentence without saying “born and raised” next.)
To see folks attend the event in costume gives the weekend a whole new dimension. When working with a creative group, it should be no surprise that the costumes are superior. From the Blue Screen of Death to Doctor Who, the costumes were the perfect backdrop for creativity, learning, adventure, and bonding.
Of course, the reason people attend WordCamps is not simply for the camaraderie and the food, they are primarily there for the amazing sessions led by community members. WordCamp sessions are meant to inspire you to go forth and make, design, market, and build really great websites. On the roster this year, WordCamp Philly had some of the most highly regarded speakers in the biz like our own Lisa Sabin-Wilson, who gave a talk entitled, “Systems for Success: Revenue Doesn’t Mean Sh*t if You’re Not Profitable.” Brad was spotlighted on a panel that talked about the WordPress Economy although his Mr. Halloween suit was really the talk of the event. Mr. Halloween does WordPress.
Additionally, Philly WordCampers got to hear Aaron Jorbin talk about advanced topics in developing, Mika Epstein talk about “Data Based Sites (Or: How Sara Lance Made Me Cry),” and Christopher Lauzon discuss “That Time I Blew Up Someone’s Site and Other Ways to Avoid Disaster.” We can’t forget the local Philly folks like, “Having My Website Hacked Was the Best Thing That Could Have Happened to Me,” presented by Laura Byrne-Cristiano and “Create Your First Shortcode,” presented by Sal Ferrarello. I think, however, everyone can agree that one of the highlights was Marc Coleman’s keynote talk on Diversity in the Tech Space titled, “The Risks and Rewards of Community”.
Now let’s talk about the fun stuff. I booked the party spaces. Friday Night we had the pleasure of hosting the speakers at La Fourno on South Street in Philadelphia. We stuffed ourselves with butternut squash ravioli and pizza! It was wonderful. The following evening was the Official After-Party at William Street Common in West Philly. We distributed prizes to our costume contest winners and Brad happened to walk away with a prize, as did other great winners like Bert from Sesame Street!
Then a group of us ended the evening with a time-honored Philly Tradition: the Philly Taco. This masterpiece starts with a slice of giant pizza from a local favorite spot called Lorenzo’s. Then you simply cross the street to another local spot called Jim’s and purchase a cheesesteak. The slice is lovingly wrapped around the cheesesteak sandwich similar to a taco. It’s perfection and disgusting all in one bite but so worth it if you are really looking to get that Philly experience.
On Sunday we held contributor day, and from what I hear it was incredible. I wish I could report more about it, however, I was unable to attend due to a previous commitment. It had nothing to do with the after-effects of the Philly Taco… I swear.
I love my city. I love WebDevStudios. I love WordPress and WordCamps, so it should come as no surprise this was one of my favorite weekends. Thank you to the organizers who made it so special and the attendees who made it shine brightly with the spirit of the community.
P.S. We are proud to say that Maintainn was a sponsor this year!