I was at the awesome WordPress Orange County all day yesterday and attended remotely via live stream for portions of today.
While I was there, my gut feeling after looking at the rest of this year’s calendar was confirmed. I heard from several people that WordCamp Los Angeles and WordCamp San Diego aren’t being planned for this year as they typically would be. Naturally I’m distraught at the thought, but I’m also wondering if part of the reason is that there are several smaller nearby regional camps that have popped up over the past year? Some of these newer camps include WordCamp Riverside, WordCamp Santa Clarita, and the upcoming WordCamp Long Beach.
This trend can be an interesting one in large part because it means that the community is growing in size and sophistication as well as leadership to be able to sustain these new area camps. It’s good to have been able to have gone to two camps within driving distance in the last two months and also know that there are two more camps within that same distance before the end of the year. Instead of having one or two major camps nearby, I’ve now got twice the amount.
Of course, with all the extra awesomeness that this provides, I also wonder about the ideas of community cohesion, leadership, continuity, and even burnout. Should we have better regional conversations about these camps, their timing, and their content? Are we possibly spreading ourselves too thin? Is there enough leadership and continuity to continue all these individual camps on an annual basis for the next 5 years? Are the benches deep enough that we’re not working toward burning ourselves (and our volunteer base) out? Would it be better to have a little less? Should we alternate having bigger camps in LA and San Diego with the smaller ones in nearby cities? What does that look like? Are we thinking about longer term sustainability?
I’m mulling over the idea of spearheading either a WordCamp Los Angeles, to keep the central continuity, but I’m also wondering about doing something like that with a slightly smaller Pasadena Camp. I also started a discussion yesterday about doing a kids’ WordCamp in the LA area when I found out that there is already some organization and institutional support for these in other cities. And of course this all comes with my pre-existing plans for doing a local area IndieWebCamp sometime within the next calendar year. All of these ideas are appealing to me, but I only have a finite amount of time for planning and executing them.
In the coming weeks, I’d like to reach out and touch base with all of these nearby camps to hear other’s ideas on the topic and their long term plans to see what the best way forward might look like. Has the central organization run across these rapid growth problems in other metropolitan areas in the past? What was were the near-term and longer-term results? Without some additional data, I feel like I’m operating in a bit of a vacuum. Is it possible that as a major market city that the LA area is the first to see potential effects like I’ve described?
This post mostly serves as an informal dump of some preliminary ideas and potential concerns for the future; I’d welcome ideas and additional thoughts.