WordCamp Recap: Grand Rapids & Birmingham

Two great WordCamps were held the last weekend of August:  Grand Rapids, MI and Birmingham, AL.

WordCamp Grand Rapids

Whether you attended personally or were following along via social media, you could tell early on that WordCamp Grand Rapids was going to be an exciting event. Building up from it’s first WordCamp last year, Grand Rapids second official WordCamp (this year being held at the Grand Valley State University) was also it’s biggest. I reached out to one of the primary organizers, Brian Richards, who confirmed that this year’s official attendance was 170. Definitely a growing WordPress community in Grand Rapids.

The two-day event featured a variety of speakers, many who are well-known to those following WordCamps: Adam PIckering, John James Jacoby, Lisa Sabin-Wilson, Pippin Williamson, Jake Caputo, and more. The main day on Saturday consisted of four tracks (wow!) with a Contributor Day on Sunday.

The event ran smoothly thanks to some great support from the 4 co-organizers and approximately 14 other volunteers at the event. There was plenty of swag at the event too. In addition to some great looking event tee, speakers were thanked for their service with a really nice-looking hoodie that said “Empowered by WordPress”.

I asked Brian what he thought were the best highlights of those two days. “The first thing that comes to mind is simplicity. Our setup couldn’t have been better.” Attendees certainly enjoyed the close and easy access to the surrounding hotels, restaurants, and parking. It’s clear that we will see another WordCamp next year in Grand Rapids, at least according to Brian: “People at the event said it was a great city. The city is just the right size to have an event like this.”

WordCamp Birmingham

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While Grand Rapids was going on, a little further south in the United States WordCamp Birmingham was underway. The warm weather didn’t keep this from being another successful sold-out WordPress event in Alabama.

After a “meet and greet” Friday evening, WordCamp Birmingham started off Saturday with a bang with three tracks packed full of knowledge that covered a wide range of topics. Highlights included Chris Lema doing an extra-long session on “WordPress 101″ for the benefit of those new to WordPress who came to the event. Nathan Ingram talked Ecommerce 101 while in the next room William Davis was talking about how to “run your life” with WordPress. Syed Balkhi, as usual, gave an effective and emotional talk on growing your WordPress business. Developers had plenty to pay attention to with speakers such as Daniel Immke (on how to effectively use the command line with WordPress) to Samuel Wood (better known as Otto) give his experiences and lesson from working on WordPress.org.

On Sunday the talks continued, with a special business panel (with Karim Marucchi, Chris Lema, Andrew Norcross, and Syed Balkhi) starting things off. After the final talks at around 4:30pm concluded, it was all over with thoughts of next year’s WordCamp Birmingham already being talked about.

Missed Out This Weekend?

Did you miss out on these great WordCamps? Don’t worry – videos of the given presentations will be up in short time on WordPress.tv. And check out the schedule at wordcamp.org to see if any WordCamps are coming to your area in the near future!

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