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The Low Rumblings of WordCamp West Michigan, Summer 2012

I have been wanting to bring WordCamp to West Michigan ever since I first learned of the event in early 2009. Now, having been an attendee and having had the opportunity to get to know the community better, I’d love to organize an event here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve written this post to outline what I’m thinking and to basically serve as my extended organizer proposal for WordCamp Central.

Please Note: Just so we’re clear, I want to go through all the proper channels before moving forward at all. This is not a confirmed event. It’s ultimately up to WordCamp Central and I submit to their authority.
Update 3/1/11: WC Central suggested holding an event this summer (2011). Before trying to get traction with that, I want to know who from the local community would be interested in meeting up in March/April. Sound off in the comments below and signup here:!

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from the local community and also from others far and away. Thank you! I’ll be updating this post as I hear back from WordCamp Central whether or not we’re approved to move forward.

When Would It Happen?

I’m thinking Summer 2012. This year is already loaded with lots of good WordCamps, and I didn’t want to rush into planning another one or give everyone such short notice. I don’t have an exact month/weekend in mind, but am open to suggestions and looking at the calendar to see what would be best for next year based on when other WordCamps are traditionally held.

One Event, Multiple Tracks

The one trait that I’ve noticed that all the good (and most talked about) WordCamps have executed well is having multiple tracks to best accomodate the diverse skill-sets and technical capabilities of our community. Most commonly this presents itself as a User track and a Developer track. What I’d really like to do, though, is create a five-track setup.

Each of the five tracks will focus on a core aspect of our community: Users, Theming, Plugin Development, Business and Networking. Each track will also, of course, feature a variety of beginner, intermediate and advanced topics. WordCamp Phoenix recently executed on this concept very well.

I really want to provide something for everyone here, because everyone has something to benefit from working with WordPress. Recognizing that many people (myself included) just come to hang out, the Networking track would basically serve as an unscheduled unconference time. The only limiting reactant here is the speaker line-up, which brings me to my next question…

Who Would Speak?

Here are some people I personally want to hear speak. I’ve asked some of them if they’d be interestend in making the trek here, and the overall response has been positive. I know it’s a bit of a moot point right now, since there isn’t an event yet, but simply knowing that this many people are interested in presenting is both encouraging and humbling.

Note: Confirmed simply means they are interested and could come if the event takes place and the dates look good.

Aaron Jorbin, confirmed
Adii Pienaar
Andrea Rennick, confirmed
Andrew Nacin, confirmed
Alex King, confirmed
Ben Gillbanks, declined
Benjamin Bradley, confirmed
Brad Ulrich, confirmed
Bradley Porter, maybe
Brad Williams, confirmed
Brian Gardner, maybe
Carl Hancock, confirmed
Chris Coyier, Unavailable
Chris Jean
Clay Griffiths, confirmed
Cory Miller, confirmed
Darren Hoyt, declined
David Morgan, confirmed
Dustin Bolton
Gil Rutkowski, confirmed
Grant Griffiths, confirmed
Ian Stewart, confirmed
James Dalman, confirmed
Jane Wells
Jason Schuller, confirmed
Jeff Chandler, confirmed
Jeff Milone, confirmed
John Dillick
John P Bloch
Jonathan Davis
Joost DeValk, confirmed
Josh Byers, maybe
Joshua Strebel
Justin Shreve, maybe
Justin Tadlock
Kevin Flahaut, confirmed
Lance Willet, confirmed
Lisa Sabin-Wilson, confirmed
Leland Fiegel, maybe
Mark Jaquith
Matt Danner, confirmed
Matt Mullenweg
Michael Torbert
Nathan Rice, maybe
Ozh Richard, maybe
Pete Mall, confirmed
Ptah Dunbar, confirmed
Ron Rennick, confirmed
Ryan Duff, confirmed
Ryan Imel, confirmed
Samuel Wood (Otto)

Why West Michigan?

Why Not? It’s an incredibly beautiful place to be in the summer. There are a multitude of options for venues, attractions and accommodations. None of them are more than 20min apart from each other, and none are more than 20min from the airport. Seriously, check it out. The real beauty is that Grand Rapids could support the event whether it’s large or small.

What Qualifies You To Host a WordCamp?

Well, I’ve never done it before (clearly), but I’ve helped with event coordination in multiple capacities for other types of events both large and small. Most recently I joined up with a band of like-minded geeks for @GRWebDev meetups, and am discussing a WP meetup with them.

I’ve also been contacting other past organizers to better understand the potential pitfalls and unique concerns facing WordCamps, specifically. Plus, I’ll be make sure to compile all of the aspects from planning to execution and turn over a WordCamp Organizers Handbook of sorts that could live on WordCamp Central for other would-be organizers like me.

Update 2/16/10: Jane Wells posted yesterday that there is a new site for organizers launching quite soon. Sounds like my offer to put together a helpful guide may actually be unnecessary.

What Else?

Ideas? Questions? Concerns? I want this to be an incredible time had by all, so please tell me what it would take to bring you here!

8 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce LOVES it when people bring things like this to GR, and they’re VERY helpful in finding venues, restaurants, sponsors, etc. I’d get in touch with them.

  2. Honestly, I would f*in LOVE to do that. Would love to attend a big WordCamp, would love to meet for real Brad & Justin and have a beer with them over our book (and also, the best client I’ve ever had is in this area so that would be awesome to say hi to him)

    I would love to do that but that’s probably just a financial issue (we’re talking at least €1000, not to mention several days off from work and your stupid domestic immigration services to deal with:)

    As soon as there’s a confirmed date, ping me, I promise I’ll do my best and see if that’s doable

  3. I’ll be happy to attend and/or speak as long as the logistics work out.

  4. Brian,

    If you do move forward with this event, I would be willing to sponsor the event.

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