Beyond Code - Contributing to Community Spirit

How the DrupalCon Prenote helps us laugh, learn, and be a community. Four other Acquians joined me on stage in the DrupalCon Baltimore Prenote, helping spread a little joy and silliness. Drupal gets better when companies, organizations, and individuals build or fix something they need and then share it with the rest of us. Our community becomes better, stronger, and smarter when others take it upon themselves to make a positive difference contributing their knowledge, time, and energy to Drupal. Acquia is proud to play a part, alongside thousands of others, in making tomorrow’s Drupal better than today’s.

“Welcome to the Prenote! Welcome to DrupalCon! Let’s celebrate this thing we love!”

The DrupalCon Prenote

Baltimore marked the 14th (!) time the Drupal Association invited me to open DrupalCon. I was proud to put on a fresh new DrupalCon Prenote, “Balti-more Prenote, the Balti-most fun at DrupalCon!”, bright and early on Tuesday morning with 14 other crazy, positive, fun Drupalists. Campbell Vertesi and I are the current maintainers of this odd little ongoing Drupal project. The first proto-Prenote went live, just like the Drupal 8 code branch, at DrupalCon Chicago with a cast of two--Robert Douglass and me--in 2011. It seems to have become an institution in the meantime. Our story this time around was an homage to one of the Drupal institutions Cam and I love the most: DrupalCon itself, through a newbie’s eyes ... and a lot of silly fun.

If you’ve never experienced one, every Prenote is a new creation every time, new concept, new script, new story, new song parodies. We like to underscore community themes, provide useful information, talk about open source values, and help attendees kick off DrupalCon on the right foot. Campbell and I thought long and hard about how (and if at all) to do the Prenote this time around in the context of the challenges the community has been facing recently. We emphatically decided to go ahead with it. As Campbell put it in his blog, “the Prenote exists to remind us of why we should keep going. The Drupal community ... the agglomeration of people, practices, code, and rules – has a lot that’s worth fighting for. The Prenote is about why we are here, why we’ve stayed here all these years. Because it’s fun, because it’s supportive, because we love it.” Want to Prenote with us? Sign up here to be part of the greatest Tuesday morning at DrupalCon!

Healing in the air in Baltimore

With tensions running high in the Drupal community of late, many of us--me included--were worried how coming together in Baltimore might pan out. Though it is important, I’ve long claimed that Drupal’s killer app is not our code. Our killer app is our community, the thousands of smart people who like to solve hard problems together. And DrupalCon Baltimore proved that to me once more. Being in the midst of so many people excited to be there, excited to be together, learning, planning, focusing on building great things was just what the doctor ordered. Many of you told me how important it was to be face to face with our collaborators, mentors, friends, and colleagues once again; to be reminded of why we contribute time, effort, and passion for the use of anyone who needs our software to make the world a better place.

We’re not out of the woods yet; problems remain. They need solving. Recent events have brought many issues to light that have been lurking below the surface for some time. But my faith in our community, in collaboration, in our ability to solve this set of problems--is strong.

Where do we go from here? Our community’s governance and structure hasn’t been addressed since we were a much smaller and less consequential project. Dries agrees it’s time for a reboot. It’s time for talking (we’re good at that), designing new systems (we’re good at that, too) to address who we want to be and how we want to live that identity. I think we’re up to the challenge. I’ll be adding two cents to those conversations based on the many responses I got to the community values survey I posted recently, too. And we’ll be back with another Prenote at DrupalCon Vienna, too!

Thank you

My heartfelt thanks to the Drupal Association for inviting and entrusting us with with the Prenote slot for all these years; to the Baltimore cast members Hannah del Porto, Cathy Theys, Matthew Connerton, Matthew Saunders, Rakesh James, Alex Burrows; Acquians Brooke Savona, Naveen Valecha, Chris Urban, John Kennedy; and especially Campbell Vertesi (script lead), Adam Juran (lyric lead), Tom Atkins (music lead) for your collective shameless insanity. Thanks to Bill, Casey, and the crew in the hall for your eternal patience with amatuer theater. Thanks also for additional materials and contributions to Moshe Weizman, Robert Douglass ... and godspeed, Kenny Silanskas--we miss you, man.

Want to Prenote? Sign up here!

Sign up here to be part of the Prenote! Can you sing, dance, tell jokes, or none of the above? Come along and be in the Prenote! We’ll be glad to have you on board.

DrupalCon Baltimore Prenote Opening Monologue

Campbell Vertesi and I opened the Prenote with some context about our (calculated) silliness in the midst of difficult times.

“You might or might not be aware, our community has been going through a rough time recently. Many of us involved in the Prenote have been consumed by stress, fears for our project, and have seen people we know and respect caught up on all sides of recent events.
“We, Campbell and I, thought long and hard about how to do a Prenote this time around.
“The challenges to our community and our values, and structures, and practices meant that we couldn’t just get up here, as usual, looking gorgeous in spandex, and sing and dance our silly way into yet another DrupalCon.
“Our answer? I published the first two parts of mine: Drupal, I’m taking Sides and Building a Community That We Want to be Part Of and Campbell Vertesi’s, Stay for Community.
“Both of us have genuine concerns about recent events; we do not want to sweep anything under any carpets, but we want to underscore that the vast majority of what Drupal is, what Drupal does, and what Drupal and the Drupal community are about is *positive*.
  • Our community has invested more than 15 years of hard work in software that we give away to anyone who wants to use it.
  • *We* make it possible for literally tens of thousands of people to work and feed their families, and make a difference.
  • What we do makes the world a better place.
  • We can and should pick ourselves up from this crisis, dust ourselves off and figure out how to fix things and do better next time.
“One of the things that Campbell and I cherish in all this is DrupalCon. It is one of our community’s treasures. The Prenote that we’ve come up with this time celebrates lots of things that we love about our community, by looking at the very institution that has been hosting the Prenote since 2011: DrupalCon.
“Welcome to the Prenote! Welcome to DrupalCon! Let’s celebrate this thing we love!”