The inaugural WordCamp Belfast and WordCamp Dublin are now in the early stages of planning. Members of the WordPress Northern Ireland meetup group are collaborating with the Dublin meetup to organize an event in Belfast in September 2016 and one in Dublin in April 2017. The dates have not yet been set in stone but organizers are looking at venues and are gathering all the details and costs to begin work on a budget.
“Ever since first setting up the WordPress Meetup group in January 2014, a WordCamp was always something that we wanted to see – when the time was right,” organizer Mark Smallman said. “Having had the meetup group running successfully for two years, and having been in communication with the Dublin group, we decided the time was right to explore the possibility of running a WordCamp.”
John Walsh, co-organizer of the Dublin WordPress Meetup Group, has applied to be the lead organizer of WordCamp Dublin 2017.
“The goal is to combine our resources and work together to achieve the common goal of bringing WordCamp to Dublin and to Belfast on an annual basis,” Walsh said. “Separately, we have a certain capability but by working together we can accomplish a lot more.”
Since neither of the two groups has previously hosted or planned a WordCamp, Smallman said that it’s a steep learning curve for all of them.
“It helps to have as many and as varied a range of skills as possible on-board to help us get to the summit,” Smallman said. “We hope that once we have #WCBelfast in full swing, some of the same organizing team members can either offer assistance to WordCamp Dublin or take on roles directly within their organizing team. This should help both WordCamps in terms of planning for the future.”
Smallman said that if both WordCamps are a success, the teams will look at the possibility of alternating between Belfast and Dublin in future years.
“Having a team that is spread over the two areas will also help to widen the net of possible speakers, sponsors and attendees for both WordCamps, hopefully helping to make both a success,” he said. “And who knows, possibly both will become regular events on the WordCamp calendar.”
The Wapuu of the North: Growing the Community Spirit in Belfast
Smallman and the organizing team hope the two WordCamps will help to validate and grow the unique WordPress communities on both sides of the border.
“Belfast and Northern Ireland have a wide range of very skilled people in the I.T. sector,” he said. “But up until recently it was lacking when it comes to community spirit within the sector. Slowly, we have seen groups within the area grow and now we have thriving Blogging and PHP groups as well as many others.”
“The Wapuu of the North was generously created by Peter of 1440 Design in Belfast,” Smallman said. “Peter works along side Sam Nelson who is on our organizing team. Sam also created our #WCBelfast badge.
“We chatted and bounced a few ideas around for a theme for the WordCamp,” he said. “Game of Thrones was a very obvious choice, and one that none of us could think of a better fit. Northern Ireland has no fewer than a dozen filming locations for the show. We all thought that we could not choose anyone better than the Wapuu of the North to deliver the message that the White Walkers (developers) were on their way!”
Smallman said the team is excited about the venue they’ve selected for hosting Northern Ireland’s very first WordCamp.
“With all being well, we really are planning something very special for our first WordCamp,” he said. “We cannot wait to get moving onto the next stage.”