In a year of lots of virtual events, here are the highlights in the official WordPress Meetups I’ve attended:
Best Integration/Demo of WordPress
South Central Coast WordPress Adventure Group (Santa Barbara, CA), December 23, 7 pm Blending a normal in-person office event and the developer ingenuity and creativity with probably the coolest White Elephant Holiday Gift Exchange I’ve participated in. Meetup Organizer, Alicia St. Rose took this event to a new level by building out a fun, virtual gift exchange and WordPress using Advanced Custom Fields, Formidable Forms, and WordPress.
- She built a custom solution allowing attendees to participate in an order based on assigned numbers, choose a wrapped item, or steal someone else’s gift like the traditional White Elephant Gift Exchange;
- To participate, each attendee had to ‘bring’ a gift, big or small, funny or serious and using a customized interface ‘put’ the gift under the tree by putting your gift in a Google doc and putting the link anonymously, choosing your wrapping paper, and being assigned a reference number for your gift for later.
Another unique virtual opportunity to meet new people and interact with members of the WordPress Community from all over the world in a different way than you normally could and have a deeper interaction making this Meetup a highlight of otherwise dismal 2020.
Best Goal Oriented Meetup
The London WooCommerce Meetup (London, UK), December 16, 5 am – Ronald Gijsel and Lisa C (co-organizers) host a well-attended, frequently occurring, and very friendly gathering for fans of the WordPress e-commerce solution, WooCommerce. What makes this Meetup one of my favorites is that it works with my sleep cycle. Due to shoulder surgery in the fall, I’m like an infant, crashing out whenever I can to heal and manage pain finding myself up at odd times of the early morning and ALWAYS between 4 and 5 o’clock every day.
TIP: By changing your meeting radius to ANYWHERE you’ll see Meetups from around the world instead of in our local area.
Their holiday meetup had their typical topic-driven presentation, detailed slides, but this time incorporating a trivia game show based on WordPress and WooCommerce questions. What I enjoy most is that this Meetup had an annual goal with each individual topic building towards an overall purpose — to build a functioning Woo website in time for the holiday sales season. A great idea that I’ll take away and incorporate into my local group here in Santa Clarita.
My Favorite New Meetup
WordPress San Fernando Valley Meetup is a great meetup to learn about a focused topic within WordPress. Led by Sumner Davenport, Jennifer Huang, and Ron Amick, focusing on Accessibility topics in this new Meetup offered by many new faces in the WordPress Community which was a breath of fresh air in a learning lab format. They also participated in one of the first multi-Meetup joint events to celebrate the first WordPress Accessibility Day.
Coolest Meetup Series
Elementor Virtual Road Trip, June 3, 11 am PT – In response to the pandemic and support of their local Meetups, Elementor’s World Tour with stops all around the world including Los Angeles (15 stops in London, Bern, Tel Aviv, Surat, Miami, Atlanta, etc). Topic driven, the big difference was that these Meetups were led by Elementor’s core team such as Ziv Guerts, Verdi Heinz, and Elementor Leaders.
Favorite WordPress Meetup Guest
Back at the beginning months of the pandemic I virtually attended WordCamp Europe. I was supposed to speak at WordCamp Europe (June 4-6) but when they went virtual they reduced the schedule, I didn’t make the cut. One of the people that I saw present at that online WordCamp was a very dynamic speaker, Ahmed Khalifa (@IamAhmedKhalifa). Speaking about a topic that you rarely see at WordCamps — Accessibility, but in relation to videos and captioning.
Offline, I asked him to join our multi-Meetup event and present the same topic and it was one of the brightest highlights for me of the entire year. Visuals were witty, humorous, and chock-full of information and the presentation sparked lots of interaction with the audience and lots of discussion in the Q&A session afterward. You rarely get that combination of knowledgeable, entertaining, and technically rewarding in this format but Ahmed hit all of the markers.
This year was very tough on people with so many people that I know personally catching the coronavirus and with a mortality rate 10 times greater than the average flu and virtual events offered a rare opportunity to continue to WordPress. My hope is that when in-person events return, I’ll attend a WordCamp like Europe or Asia and reconnect with these faces continuing to build on a relationship that already has a sturdy foundation.