DjangoCon Europe is special. Most conferences I attend each year are basically just that: Conferences, meet-ups of like-minded people discussing interesting stuff. But what happened this past week in Cardiff is more like a huge family gatherings but where you can talk tech with anyone 😀
And this year the organisers tried to make this family much bigger by explicitly inviting new speakers to the event and helping them to get started. But not only speakers: There was also a whole day prior to the actual conference with workshops and talks that were free to attend hosted by Cardiff University in the same rooms as last year’s DjangoWeekend. No registration required, to strings attached. And from what I could see, quite a few people gave Django a shot there 😊
Markus had a workshop scheduled on that day for people already familiar with Python to learn the basics of Django. According to the sign-up page he could expect around 20 attendees so he asked around if someone was willing to help out. In the end we were about half a dozen trainers helping … half a dozen students. Slight overkill there on our end but still an awesome experience for me as I had never done something like that before. If time permits I definitely want to help with workshops again in the future 😁
Then came the conference days and with them some awesome talks by old and new speakers. But the really interesting stuff happened between the talks (and I don’t mean the delicious Welsh Cakes 😉). There was, for instance, and impromptu meeting of people interested in working on code-for-all-like projects in the park in front of the City Hall (the location of the main conference part). We didn’t get that far there but there is now at least a mailing-list where we can stay in touch. It is open to the public, so if you’re into this topic, join!
IIRC that topic came up after the organisers announced that there would be anonymous wellbeing sessions with professionals from Cardiff University being held alongside the conference. That institute was currently struggling with some software issues so a couple of us gathered to help them as much as we could. During the sprints we also started to work on a prototype for a system that might facilitate some of their work-flows in the future.
If this still sounds too classic-conferencey for you, how about that:
On the last sprint day we sang Happy Birthday to one of the workshop tutors after walking through half the university in order to make a surprise entrance.
Daniele receives a book and a CD about/of his probably favorite boy-band by that time as a thank-you gift.
There was a quiet-room for when you want to be left alone to cool down a bit.
People talked very openly about whatever problems they had, not limited to technical but also social and psychological ones.
The whole event was supposed to be as waste-free as possible, so there were no plastic cups or plates but every attendee received a Klean Kanteen bottle and there were water coolers everywhere.
This year’s event also tried to offer as many evening activities as possible with one conference dinner for all held at the National Museum of Cardiff and visits to The Clink and the Vegetarian Food Studio. On Thursday there was also a BBQ!
As mentioned above, there were also (as always) sprints going on after the session-days. Due to my travel-plans I could only attend the first one but managed to get a ton of stuff done there again including some fixes for django-backup!
Aside from the conference I also did a bit of sight-seeing but I will try to put that into some other posts either here or on my travelogue, so stay tuned 😉
There is not all that much left to say here other than a big THANK YOU to all the organisers, volunteers, speakers and sponsors who made this event possible and I can’t wait for next year’s DjangoCon Europe in Budapest 😃