Birth of a Community

Seven years ago today, the First WordPress D.C. Meetup that was focused on a continuity of community took place. Tomorrow the first WordCampDC kicks off. It's been a heck of a journey. 

I've been gone from the community for a few years.  I know the community has continued to evolve and grow, but for the first 3 years of its existence, I was honored to serve it as one of the organizers. Looking back, there are a number of things that stand out to me about those early days of WordPress DC. 

The DC community has helped many people grow. Many people took on larger roles in the WordPress community in part due to the involvement in the meetup. Committers, Lead Developers, Training Team Leads, Speakers, Meetup Organizers, Meetup Organizer Organizers, Code Contributors, Testers, Theme Reviewers, Accessibility Team Leads and Support team members. You would be hard pressed to find a community that has done more for WordPress.

I know of countless people who got jobs because they started networking at the WordPress DC meetup. Early on, we stole from the PHP meetup the idea of asking "Who's hiring, Who's looking" at the end of the meetup and giving people a moment to introduce themselves.

Early on, the decision was made to focus the main monthly meetup on users of WordPress, with the idea that designers and developers can always learn more about users and for many of them, networking after the meetup could be even more valuable than hearing yet another talk about custom walkers. We did hold a number of special events especially aimed at developers and designers though. We tried "Brown Bag Lunches", Saturday afternoon pre-release testing sessions, Friday Night's with (sadly, only one since he was only in town one night), and "Happiness Socials" focused on helping each other with issues. 

The collaboration the meetup had with the broader DC community helped WordPressDC standout.  The Open Source BBQ become the summer event that everyone looked forward to.

This isn't to say the meetup group was perfect.  It took us a too long to realize that our speaker roster was heavily male, and leaned young.  Thankfully, we realized it before it poisoned the community.  In many ways, it reminds me of one of my favorite tweets. We fucked up, but then we tried not to make the same mistake again. 

Finally, the friendships that grew and developed can't be understated. For many of us, The second Tuesday of the month became a highlight that we didn't want to miss. Many people I met or got to know better through the WordPressDC community are people I still consider friends today.

Happy Birthday WordPressDC.  Tomorrow, we celebrate with the first WordCamp DC!

Random Opinions Uncategorized

Three great places in the Washington DC area

I recently spent some time in the Washington, DC area. While I saw way more national chain stores then I’m used to seeing in Portland, there where three great local places that I wanted to highlight to anyone traveling or living there. One is a coffee shop and the two others restaurants.

Java Shack

Located at 2507 N Franklin Rd (near the intersection of Wilson and Barton in the Courthouse/Clarendon neighborhood) is a great coffee shop serving organic coffee from Lexington Coffee. The staff was friendly, the coffee hot and the wi-fi fast. One thing that I really liked was that they had a rotating single origin coffee along with a high quality house blend and a french roast that wasn’t as robust as I would have hoped. Next time I am in the area, I will definitely be returning.

Ray’s Hell Burger

Talk about one hell of a burger. Located just down the road from the java shack at 1713 Wilson Blvd, this has already jumped up into being on of my favorite burgers. They start with a patty of high quality meat that’s perfectly cooked unless you are actually looking for shoe leather. My girlfriend had mostly good things to say about the shoe leather version. Next up is a wide selection of cheeses such as Vermont White Cheddar, Dutch Mustard Seed Gouda, and Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue. You are then able to add a few extra charge toppings like Bacon, Foie Gras, and Ham. They also have an extremely large choice of free toppings including three types of Pickles, some of the best sautaedded mushrooms I’ve ever had and sautéed peppers. It was so good, I went twice.

The first time I had mine with Vermont white cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, sautéed peppers, and dill pickle chips. It was perfectly cooked with a warm red center and a great bun that held together even with how juicy the burger and toppings were. And boy were they juicy. I can’t say enough great things about the mushrooms. I almost want to see if I can just order a bun loaded with those mushrooms and some cheese.

On my second visit I switched the cheese to Pepper Jack and added bacon and roasted garlic to my burger. While it was amazing, I think next time I’m there I’ll cut down on the toppings to not overpower the burger. I tried both the regular fries and the sweet potato fries. My recommendation, skip the regular fries, and go straight for the sweet.

I couldn’t find a website for them, but you can take a look at a scan of the menu at Beans, Rice, & Life.  Also, bring cash, they don’t take cards.

Ben’s Chilli Bowl

The Chilli Half Smoke is by far the best Chili dog I’ve had in my life. There is no doubt about it. I can’t say that enough times. Best. Chilli. Dog. Ever. The chilli has a good kick, but yet isn’t so strong that it overpowers. The dogs come with chips and the fries are mostly lifeless.

It’s located right across the street from the U street metro station at 1213 U ST, NW. They also have vegan options, so even if you’re a herbivore, you can eat here.  Bring cash, they don’t take cards and the only people who eat for free are Bill Cosby, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, and Michelle Obama.

Let me know if you try or have been to any of these places. I’d love to hear some others thoughts.