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Homecoming: Back in Michigan for WordCamp Grand Rapids

Challenges, like change, is a constant in our lives. Unfortunately, the dark clouds of a health crisis have gathered in a family member’s life and impacted my personal and professional life. My recent thoughts had become so cluttered with unknowns of the near future that a brief break from our WordPress Meetup in Santa Clarita to head home to Michigan and WordCamp Grand Rapids was a silver lining, my lucky seven.

WordPress Therapy

Contributing to the WordPress Community by presenting at a WordCamp audience lifts my spirits and provides personal, positive, creative energy. Giving back, learning, and networking amongst the best and brightest from around the region and country.

Heading home to Michigan means reconnecting with ‘old friends’ and returning to WordCamp Grand Rapids is being with some truly great people I met during the past two years of my journey back into WordPress.

On the schedule were familiar faces:

  • Jeff Large, a leading voice in the Podcast space, and myself at the Speakers Dinners for the very first WordCamp I presented at in Chicago in 2018. I didn’t know anyone and decide to saddle up to his table and in true WordPress Community fashion, he was very welcoming. In terms of his presentation style and delivery of information in an engaging and entertaining fashion, he’s one of the best I’ve seen.
    His “Recycling Your Content: How Better Strategy and Automation Serves Your Clients and Saves You Time” was a fascinating look at automating and repurposing your content and will be a great watch on WordPress.tv when available;
  • During Contributor Day at WordCamp Phoenix this past February, my wife and I met Cate and Topher DeRosia (Big Commerce, HeroPress) who is based out of Grand Rapids. Cate, a talented writer, kindly shared her path which my wife has just begun; and
  • Following me directly on the WordCamp Grand Rapids program, Mary Baum and I met at the Antelope Valley WordPress Meetup back in northern Los Angeles County in 2017 and the humor and wit expressed during her presentation, Session: Confessions of a Type Nut: Quick tricks to get great type on your site, and why it matters” was a highlight of the day’s event.

Getting Lucky

Lucky 7: Don't do ANYTHING util you hear THIS WordPress Presentation
Lucky 7: Don’t do ANYTHING util you hear THIS WordPress Title Slide

When you started in WordPress, don’t you wish that you had all the answers to your questions BEFORE you invested time, money, and effort? This premise was the basis for my presentation “Lucky 7: Don’t Do Anything Before You See This Presentation”. Las Vegas is big, bold, glittering, exciting but can be overwhelming with its myriad of possibilities, just like WordPress can be for someone new.

I also pointed out that WordCamps offer an incredible networking opportunity with the best and brighter makers and influencers often seated to your left or right. For example, I finally got to meet Brian Richards (whose WooSesh virtual WooCommerce Seminar I attended last year), chatting home remodeling in-between his probing for nuggets to share during my introduction after kicking things off with Opening remarks.

Tip: Incorporating a WordCamp or an official WordPress Meetup into your travel schedule by clicking the pencil in your admin (WordPress News and Events)

Also, joking that ‘great minds think alike” in that our WordPress Santa Clarita Meetup discussed the topic of “Why doesn’t my theme look like the demo” one full month before Matt Mullenweg discussed it at WordCamp Europe.

Back again

After my 90 Dayss to Live (a three month leave which kickstarted my WordPress journey), WordCamp Grand Rapids was the first out-of-state WordPress event that I attended almost two years ago. Impressed with the surroundings, rapids run through the city center and the campus borders it as well, this one-day WordCamp is held in “Beer City USA” on the beautiful campus of Grand Valley State University.

L. William Seidman Center on the campus of Grand Valley State University
L. William Seidman Center on the campus of Grand Valley State University

This year’s event was held at the same location but a different building on campus — the impressive L. William Seidman Center. Two tracks were chock full of an impressive array of talent addressing designer and developer topics. As an art history minor and architecture buff, I love the golden bricks here and the high ceilings.

Until Next Time, Grand Rapids

It is always re-energizing to be home and this trip was no different. The purpose and circumstance were much different but this very short diversion to the western side of the state at the trip’s outset was another great WordPress memory added.

I’d like to thank the WordPress Community, Lead Organizer Nicole Paschen and her awesome team of volunteers for having me. Sharing my presentation with the Community and enjoy WordCamp Grand Rapids was definitely rewarding.

Thank You slide from presentation.
Thank You featuring WordCamp Grand Rapids Wapuu.

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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