Back in Blighty and its been hectic from touch down… but its time to reflect on the last 2 weeks of November that have been nothing short of epic.
Starting form 17th November; DrupalCamp Pakistan kicked off in awesome style, our charity Peace Through Prosperity delivered mind blowing results from its first cohort of micro-entrepreneurs gone through its mini-MBA program, connected with some awesome people from the Drupal scene across Pakistan, connected with some awesome people working on social projects to nurture prosperity and peace, marched in a protest with many thousands of others on its 1331st anniversary and just recovered from a killer man-flu.
It started back in the spring of 2011 and seeing it be the success it was on the day in Nov 2012 has been extremely fulfilling to put it mildly, its been a journey to get to the starting line! and it is the lessons along the road so far… that I share in this post with y’all looking to put together the very first or the next awesome Drupal Camp in your patch on the third rock.
I went global with the challenges of the Drupal community in Pakistan at DrupalCon Munich 2012 with my session in the community track with Liang. This got both the global community and the local Pakistani community to take note… this was quite literally the silent boom since the audio recording cocked up and the session recording is a set of silent slides! the silent boom had its desired impact on both global and local community members. It paved the way to get community members from other geographies involved and volunteers to aid came from Britain, Belgium, Finland, USA and as far afield as Australia. The community members in Pakistan saw a session at DrupalCon with their name on it!… that is hard to ignore! and soon after they heard chatter about global community members volunteering to spare their time on a saturday to share their knowledge and experience, and that woke up the masses. By the way you need not wait for the next DrupalCon to go Global!… Broadcast before you narrowcast.
Communicate the WHY
The international speakers approached to volunteer their time to speak at DrupalCamp Pakistan were informed why doing this was important for the indigenous Pakistani Drupal community and its benefits to the wider regional and global community. The indigenous speakers likewise were informed why they must not shy away and man-up for the indigenous community!… the value was made obvious… it is all about connecting communities.
Engage to ENGAGE
Engaging the global community was not a simple lookup on Drupal.org/Linkedin/Twitter and then drop them a cold email… I have met with and built a relationship with community members at DrupalCamps, meet ups and at DrupalCons, I am part of the community… so the community gives me the privilege of their time to hear me out and then some. Its not cold calling! its relationship building… its about connecting with the community.
GIVE to receive
I take time out in London to meet up with and guide newbies to Drupal, I attend Drupal meet ups in cities I visit for work or holidays.. I have attended camps and meet ups in London, Brighton, Chicago and Utrecht to list a few and took a weekend out to speak at DrupalCamp Helsinki in person. Because I give I expect to and receive, it is simple Karma!… its about living in the spirit of the community.
Pakistan is euphemistically called the land of WordPress! we did not shy away from playing Jehovah’s witnesses and convinced a bunch to at least step out of the Dark side! if only for a day! in that respect we pitched to and included people from all disciplines from novice Drupalers to .NET hacks, PHP aficionados and anyone with a hint of curiosity displayed. We roped in end users, developers, designers, newbies, old hacks and a few journalists too!… it is about building an inclusive community from the get go.
Then there are the BASICS…
…like sorting out a kick ass venue, getting the infrastructure tested etc… these need to be thought through; We had the choice of a few venues and decided on Preston University above other venues (academic and non academic) for specific reasons (common sense and localised ones)… yes we did get into a tiff with their networking guy who was being very naughty about their dedicated LAN line for our connectivity.. but thats by the by. Finding sponsors will always be a challenge and the lesson there was be brave and go it alone if no one seems interested and reinforcements will arrive at the 11th hour (we were lucky). Our first sponsor was signed up at DrupalCamp Helsinki and the local sponsors were late to follow – we secured our local sponsors the day before the Camp… it is about recognising the difference between a community and private groups.. and adapting your engagement strategy accordingly.
and lastly…Secure the FUTURE
Making the first camp a success is the start of an epic journey and we now have the benefit of a kick ass, Jawsome (jaw dropingly awesome) start! we used the impetus to make our current Drupal meet-ups truly community meet ups as opposed to ikonami’s Drupal team’s monthly shindig!
We announced and got promises of attendance for the monthly Drupal meet-ups in Islamabad and kicked off a meetup.com group (if your’e in the vicinity or not) sign up and we’ll keep you posted on up coming meet-ups. And we finalised the next stop for the roadshow! Lahore March 2013.
Every embryonic movement (Drupal or not) needs a catalyst to bring them together to build a community… the Pakistani Drupal scene needed a Lawrence of Arabia!…. they did not get T E Lawrence from Wales… they got K Shirazee from Kent and an awesome local contingent from ikonami to be the catalysts for them.
…my personal moment of zen was seeing everyone from team ikonami involved! from Admin through to our non-Drupal practises involved with the event and with the community that came to the event… team ikonami played awesome hosts. Mighty proud of my team, thank you. As for the local Drupal community, they came out in their droves and it was awesome networking with them and hearing their tales from the hinterlands!
#DrupalCampPK #Ikonami #Kubair
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