WordCamp Incubator Program v2: input on a new role name and a call for volunteers

When we launched the experimental WordCamp Incubator program, we didn’t know what to expect. We hoped that after attending a WordCamp where there wasn’t already a WordPress chapter account meetup group, WordPress enthusiasts would be galvanized into forming a community that would sustain itself in the future. This certainly happened in two of the three communities that hosted incubator events in 2016. Plus, SIX communities that applied to be part of the program ended up organizing new WordCamps with the support of our amazing mentors!

New iteration, new challenge

In 2018, we’d like to launch a v2 of the WordCamp Incubator program, but we have an added challenge this time: finding people to support/co-lead/oversee each Incubator event.

In the first iteration of this program, we assigned 3 fully-sponsored volunteer staff to provide leadership and support to our incubator communities. But since the number of events and communities that the global community team supports continues to grow so quickly, our full-time sponsored volunteer staff is already fully committed for next year (and then some), mostly with maintenance projects. Therefore, we need to come up with another way to provide the support that made the incubator program successful in 2016.

The job

This is a time-intensive volunteer role. We estimate that lead organizers spend about 170 hours on a WordCamp, and I figure that the folks working to support the growth of an Incubator event needs to dedicate about 200-250 hours over the planning cycle. The job is that of co-organizer, mentor, and ambassador — since it’s probable that no one you’re working with has ever actually attended a WordCamp. You’re working as a community founder in a community that isn’t your own, which requires a lot of sensitivity, experience, and wisdom. The person absolutely must have experience organizing WordCamps, preferably more than one, as well as experience mentoring WordCamp organizers. Experience collaborating with people from other cultures is also very important.

What do we call this job?

Because this is such a distinctive role, I think that going forward, calling these folks “incubator mentors” isn’t a good idea. Mentorship is part of this job, but typically I think a mentor probably spends 1-4 hours a month working with their “mentee” WordCamp, whereas this role is more likely to require 25 hours a month. So! we need a new name for this program role. Here’s some very initial brainstorming that happened in Slack today.

1) Please comment below with your suggestions for a good name for this organizer-coach-midwife-counselor-guide role! I’m certain the right word is out there, just waiting to be found.

Where do we find these people?

My hope is that this challenging job will be an exciting opportunity for experienced WordCamp organizers that particularly enjoy the “start up” phase of the community, and who have successfully transitioned out of active leadership in their local community. (This is frequently “start a community from scratch” work, and the communities have to be self-sufficient at for the project to be effective.)

As mentioned above, this role is very time-intensive and high-touch. Not everyone can commit 250 hours in a year to a volunteer role, and I suspect that we may need to lean on volunteers who might be sponsored part-time to work on the incubator program. Maybe we could even help interested volunteers pitch their companies on sponsoring a certain number of hours a week to work on an incubator event.

Alternately, perhaps a team of 5-6 people would be interested in working with multiple incubator communities over a period of a year, and share some of the workload. (This makes me a little nervous, because sometimes when everyone is in charge, it means no one takes responsibility, but maybe there could be a rotating lead position on that team?) I’m open to suggestions.

2) Do you have some ideas of ways we could recruit people to take on this work and ensure their success? Please share your ideas in a comment on this post!

3) Interested in this role for 2018? Please also comment on this post to let us know!

Next steps

Once we figure out A) a name for this incubator-mentor-guide-organizer role and, B) a solid plan for recruiting enough incubator-mentor-guide-organizers to support a v2 of the Incubator program, then we can open up a call for communities who’d like to be considered as sites for a 2018 incubator WordCamp.

I’d like to set us a goal of completing our discussion by October 6, with an eye to publishing the results by October 11, and maybe we can even make the call for incubator communities by October 16.

 

#community-mentors, #incubator, #wordcamps

WordCamp Incubator Report

It’s been about 18 months since we announced the experimental WordCamp Incubator program, so we wanted to give a long-term review of the results of the program.

We announced the program and opened applications on February 18, 2016. We received 182 applications for this program. Interesting data on that application list: We received applications from 39 locations that did not have an active meetup groups. We responded to applicants in those locations with an invitation to start their own WordPress meetup groups, with minimal results. Three of the locations that we heard from, however, did get a meetup started in 2016 — Cardiff, Wales; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; and Monterrey, California, USA — but not by the people who applied for the incubator program.

23 proposed locations had already hosted a WordCamp in the past, or had a WordCamp already in planning, and another 28 locations already had an active meetup group. (A large number of applications were duplicates.)

From the short list of 16 candidate communities which we announced in April, we selected 3 incubator sites in May of 2016: Denpasar, Indonesia; Harare, Zimbabwe; and Medellín, Colombia.

Another six cities on that short list (Kochi, Nairobi, and San José in 2016, and Nagpur, Udaipur, and Colombo in 2017) have organized or are currently organizing WordCamps. (WOW!)

In the comments, we’ll provide a report on how the each of the WordPress communities in our three incubator locations has developed, since their WordCamps were held. Then in another post, we’ll discuss what it would look like to continue this program.

 

#incubator #wordcamps

Incubator Recap: WordCamp Harare

The first WordCamp Harare took place on 10 December 2016 and it was a great success. The local community is now super motivated to get involved in local events and make sure that WordCamp Harare 2017 is bigger and better than last year’s event. Despite the challenges mentioned below, the event organisation was really solid and everything ran very smoothly. The team has already started putting together their 2017 WordCamp and they are in the pre-planning phase right now.

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#harare, #incubator, #wordcamps

WordCamp Incubator Update Thread: August edition

Wondering what’s happening with WordCamp incubators in Denpasar, Harare, and Medellín? Here’s where @_dorsvenabili, @hlashbrooke, and I will post our updates for August!

#incubator #wordcamps

WordCamp Incubator Update Thread: July edition

Hey there folks, here’s another update thread so that @_dorsvenabili, @hlashbrooke, and I can report on the progress of the WordCamps we’re incubating. 🙂

#incubator, #wordcamps

WordCamp Incubator Update Thread

Hey there incubators! Let’s have everyone post an update on the progress that WordCamps Denpasar, Harare, and Medellín have made in the last month. @hlashbrooke and @_dorsvenabili, leave your update in a comment on this post, as will I! 🙂

#incubator, #wordcamps

WordCamp Incubator locations announcement

I’m very happy to announce that we have identified the locations for the WordCamp Incubator program — and I’m particularly pleased to announce that we’ve been able to select *three* incubator locations, due to the additional of another deputy to the program. Thanks for volunteering, @hlashbrooke! 🙂

The communities which will host a WordCamp Incubator this year will be:

Denpasar, Indonesia — working with Rocio Valdivia

Harare, Zimbabwe — working with Hugh Lashbrooke

Medellín, Colombia — working with Andrea Middleton

The other locations that were short-listed have been encouraged to explore the idea of organizing a local meetup group and/or WordCamp in their communities, and have been promised extra help from mentors (like @adityakane, @savione, and @gounder) if they are interested in giving it a shot. Colombo, Sri Lanka and San Jose, Costa Rica have since applied to organize a WordCamp this year, and we hope to hear from a few more groups on that list! 🙂

A rough outline of how this will go (we think):

Denpasar, Harare, and Medellín will work with their respective deputies to start a monthly WordPress meetup group or add their existing meetup group to the chapter account program. Once the local WordPress user group is meeting regularly, each team will work on finding a venue, setting a date, recruiting speakers, and spreading the word about the upcoming WordCamp. I’m thinking all three of these events will happen in the last quarter of 2016, but that’s flexible based on the preferences and needs of each local community.

Each organizing team will meet with their deputy on a biweekly basis. The deputy will act as a sort of a project manager and mentor for the local team, training them to organize a WordCamp and following up on their progress regularly. Deputies who are mentoring incubator WordCamps will report the progress of their teams on a biweekly Incubator Update thread that I’ll initiate here.

In addition to the extra-extra support we’ll provide to the local team around keeping on schedule and thinking of All The Things, we’ll help them find speakers and sponsors.  Our goal will be to feature no more than 3 non-local speakers at each event. As for sponsorship, the global sponsorship grant for these events will cover 100% of the event’s fundraising needs, so that organizers don’t need to spend much time drumming up sponsorship. We’ll accept local sponsors of course, but incubator events won’t be given a local fundraising goal that they need to meet.

As a reminder, the goal for these events is to organize an easily reproducible, one-day, one-track event with about 50-75 attendees. Hopefully by the end of the organizing/incubating experience, members of the local community will feel confident that they can organize an annual WordCamp independently in the years to come.

If you have any question about the incubator locations or our expectations for the program, please ask them in the comments!

 

#incubator, #wordcamps