Hands-On: Building a Brand New WordPress Community

I realized it when stuck in late-night traffic on one of the mega-interchanges in the farthest reaches of Southern California fresh coffee spilled on my lap. “Joe, start a WordPress Community closer to home and you’d be in bed by 10:30 pm” instead of making a decision on which off-ramp to take at the El Toro Y! What was the inspiration for building a WordPress Community in Santa Clarita? Why should you consider starting or joining one?

What makes it an ‘Official WordPress Meetup?”

According to Meetup.com, there are over 818 meetups and over 425K members categorized as WordPress, all with a desire to share information with its members about the open-source software. If the meetup you’re interested in doesn’t have the WordPress logo as an Organizer it isn’t official.

An official WordPress Meetup has the WordPress logo as an Organizer.

Official WordPress Meetup organizers are vetted, going through an onboarding process and brief training with the WordPress Foundation providing resources and insights and a framework to make your events successful.

Make WordPress Mine

To get an idea of what I wanted to see in our Meetup and rekindle the spirit of what WordPress is, I traveled all around southern California, attending over twenty (20) meetups, five (5) WordCamps (including WordCamp US virtually).

Depending on what your preferences are, each Meetup and WordCamp had its own personality and vibe — an advanced topic to hands-on, humorous or serious, teaching to presentation-heavy. These Meetups were incredibly eye-opening and inspirational in shaping exactly what I wanted our Meetup to be in Santa Clarita.

Show Me State

Founded in January 2018, the Santa Clarita Valley WordPress Meetup helps members learn by doing. I personally learned the most when seeing someone on-stage or in an online video demonstrate a concept with real-world examples and feel strongly this approach offers the biggest positive nudge on your learning journey.

Ben Ritner of Kadence Themes demonstrating block features in his Gutenberg theme.
Ben Ritner of Kadence Themes demonstrating block features in his line of Gutenberg themes.

We teach through demonstration, come armed with questions, and encourage attendees to bring laptops and break out to get specific assistance. We Zoom in guests as well on specific topics. I’m most proud of the fact that our fledgling WordPress Community in Santa Clarita has stayed true to this mantra since the day it began.

Growing a WordCamp in the Springtime

If you want to take WordPress in a new direction, you can fork it and run with it and with our community, that was my approach. I wanted the ability to influence the location of and the topics we discussed at a Meetup and started our own. But could we host a WordCamp in Santa Clarita?

Well-established and successful WordCamps in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, and San Diego were at least an hour away and there hasn’t been a WordCamp north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco since WordCamp Ventura in 2014.

Through the doubts of the unknown, I decided to make WordCamp Santa Clarita a reality in the fastest-growing city in Southern California in the spring of 2019. Like a flower, our WordPress Community mirrored Santa Clarita which has blossomed into an amazing community of film, technology, and businesses nestled amongst lakes, trails, and the Angeles National Forest.

Located just north of Los Angeles, WordCamp Santa Clarita returns spring break 2020.

Joe A. Simpson, Jr.

Front-end web developer/web designer at LACMTA (Metro Los Angeles). Manages Metro's WordPress Network of blogs including the Source, Metro Developer and Metro Primary Resources. Avid WordCamper and budding theme/plug- in wrangler.

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