December 10, 2014

My Year in Drupal: The Power of a Collaborative Community

My Year in Drupal

I’ve been fortunate to attend some of the biggest Drupal events in the U.S., and I always walk away from them with plenty of food for thought. Months ago, NTEN afforded me the space here to sing the Drupal community’s praises, and I haven’t stopped since. I’m constantly reminded of how much I value its existence. More recently, I flew down to San Francisco to take part in the Nonprofit Summit at BADCamp that I’d co-coordinated, where I got to hear from the Bay Area folks about Drupal and nonprofits in their neck of the woods.

Once Again, The Drupal Community is Awesome

Events like BADCamp remind me of the value of discussion and the exchange of ideas. Struggling to find a solution? Look to your community. One of the reasons I so appreciate the Drupal community specifically is how wonderfully they collaborate. Out of resources? Speak up in your discussion group or start a thread on a forum and watch the outpouring of support and ideas. The next thing you know, you’re looking at a list of new modules and tools that you’ve never heard of, and they might be exactly what your site needs.

There’s something wonderfully exciting about being in a room full of people with the same idea: let’s create and use technology to help people. This kind of collaborative atmosphere can make even the tallest of technological hurdles seem surmountable. If you enjoy events like BADCamp for networking and learning about nonprofit tech, then there are a couple of other events you’ll want to put on your calendar.

NYC Camp

If you are a fan of BADCamp, then NYC Camp is just your speed. It’s a free, week-long Drupal conference in New York City from March 16-22, 2015. There’s also a nonprofit summit on the Friday of that week, which you definitely won’t want to miss.

Drupal Day at NTC

For the last three years, we’ve been coordinating Drupal Day at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, so I may be a little biased when I say this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about Drupal for nonprofits. You’ll hear from Drupal experts as well as nonprofit technologists sharing their Drupal stories and successes. This is a chance to learn about what exactly goes into building a Drupal site and how you can leverage it to further your organization’s mission with case study-style presentations throughout the day. But it’s not just about code — it’s about everything else that goes into making a successful website: content strategy, user experience, responsive design, infrastructure, the whole nine yards. If you’re curious about taking that first step toward Drupal, this event is a great place to start, and then get ready for a whole lot of excellent information.

This year, join us on March 3rd, the day before NTC, in Austin, Texas. Registration for Drupal Day is free when you purchase a ticket to NTC. If you’ve already registered for the NTC, but didn’t sign up for Drupal Day, never fear! Just contact NTEN event staff and ask to be put on the registration list.

Never Stop Learning

I never cease to be amazed at how much I still have left to learn. I know I’ll never truly be done learning, as is the nature of technology. It’s always in motion, always evolving with us and our ideas. I’m constantly surprised by even the simplest of tools. For instance, if you’re organizing a meetup or hosting a summit of your own, it’s a great idea to provide attendees with a site for collective notes, like an etherpad. This is especially helpful if you have multiple sessions happening concurrently. That way, even if your attendees can’t attend every session, they can read their peers’ notes. One of the most rewarding parts of the BADCamp Nonprofit Summit for me was opening up our once-blank etherpad after the summit and finding pages and pages of notes, tools, and URLs from discussions throughout the day. In a matter of hours, we created an amazing nonprofit tech resource.

I really hope you’ll take the time to participating in a Drupal Camp or Drupal-themed event and really immerse yourself in this community. These camps are often highly affordable (or free, in the case of BADCamp and NYC Camp), so it’s just a matter of finding one near you. Need help with that part? Build-a-Module’s got you covered. Yes, that same site I mentioned months ago offers online Drupal training as well as a calendar of Drupal events all over the world.

I also hope those of you who are NTC-bound will consider adding Drupal Day to your schedule; it’s a wonderful introduction to the Drupal community. Even if you can’t make it to NTC or Drupal Day, take a chance on a Drupal Summit. Meet new peers, exchange ideas and concerns, and join in on this ongoing conversation. When you speak up, you become part of the change we all need to make this community, and Drupal, even better.

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Stephanie Gutowski
Stephanie Gutowski is the Community Engagement Organizer at ThinkShout. She spearheaded a social media campaign and developed a communications plan for Families Forward in Southern California. Through this experience, Stephanie developed a great appreciation for open source tools that help nonprofits better engage their constituents, and she continues to be an advocate for nonprofit technology. She also really, really loves video games.
Interest Categories: Community, Open Source
Tags: 15NTC, CMS, Community, drupal, Open Source