How time flies! This month we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Python User Group Graz (PyGRAZ for short)!
It all started back in 2010 at DjangoCon Europe in Berlin with Armin, Dorian, and myself coming together and wondering why there was no Django or Python-related user group in Graz. At first we weren’t completely sure what we actually wanted to end up with. Should it be something primarily about Django? Should we focus on web-development without any language or framework bias? In the end and after some meetings at a local coffee shop (Tribeka at Grieskai 2) we decided to create a Python-focused user-group.
And a short time thereafter we had our first official meetup at Gösser Bräu in September 2010.
Over the years the format evolved from simple discussions at a typical Austrian restaurant (Gösser Bräu) to a rotation including talks, lightning talks and coding dojos. What we tried to keep static for as long as possible was where the events were taking place. Once we tried to move beyond the classic “meetup at a bar/restaurant” we found a home at the ESC (when it was still in Jakoministraße). When they had to move out we were looking for another venue that was ideally also used by other user groups and found the Spektral, which is where we are to this date.
A big THANK YOU to the organisers of ESC and Spektral for their support!
What we’ve learnt
Five years are quite a long time in which all kinds of things can go well or fail miserably. Knocking on wood, no real disasters have hit us thus far but we’ve definitely learnt a couple of things:
PyGRAZ is still very small (usually between 8 and 12 attendees) but that’s mostly because I’m really bad when it comes to advertising 😉 At least we are on Twitter, Google+ and (obviously) meetup.com where we announce every event. But what has helped the most was simply asking friends and colleagues if they would be interested to come. It also helps during the organisation of each event to have one canonical info point with all other channels only pointing to that.
Initially, we used both, Google+ and Meetup.com, for RSVPs simply because we wanted to make it as easy as possible for anyone to sign up. Turns out, this was really a pain from an organiser’s point of view as getting at least mostly reliable numbers for things like table-reservations at restaurants gets far more complicated. Right now we are using Meetup.com for that exclusively, which also makes it really straight-forward to fetch the reservation data automatically through their API.
We haven’t yet found a good solution to finding enough talks. Right now we have full talks every 4 months and lightning talks the months after that. Obviously, finding the latter is much easier as they don’t require much preparation and people can be convinced more easily to prepare something like that 😉 Longer session slots much harder to fill, so we might end up focusing on lightning talks altogether.
Sponsors and how to deal with that side of the equation is still in flux with us. Some user groups rely heavily on sponsors for their location, snacks and probably also their speakers as well as other aspects of keeping the lights on. So far we haven’t done that. Spektral, thankfully, hosts us for free but that also means that everyone has to pay for their drinks by themselves. Personally, I’m absolutely fine with that but we might discuss some different approaches in the future.
To the future!
Before coming to the end of this post I really would like to thank everyone who ever came to our meetups and/or gave a talk. Without you, PyGRAZ would not exist! Another thank you goes to our friends from the Python user group in Vienna who’ve for many years now shared their Meetup.com account with us!
We somehow have to connect all these groups better with each other… Sounds like a nice goal for the next five years 😉
As for the near future: There is another meetup taking place in just a couple of weeks at October 6 where we will once again do a coding dojo. You can find more details (as always) on our website 😃