Local Organisers’ BoF at DrupalSouth Hobart

Thursday 12th December

A group of local meetup, training and sprint organisers met for a Birds of a Feather session in Hobart to discuss how things have been working at a grassroots level and things we can consider to move things forward.

Drupal meetups have been run in different cities around Australia and New Zealand over the past decade, with funding managed on an ad-hoc basis by individual organisers, and each location plans and manages their meetups independently. All meetups are run during evenings after work days, but some have started using video conferencing for speakers and non-local attendees to join in.

While some meetups have retained a core following of experienced people who like getting together socially to talk about Drupal, there’s been no measurable growth in attendee numbers over time, with many locations suffering from falling numbers and a lack of volunteers willing to run them. Meetups are largely failing to attract and retain people new to Drupal and people using Drupal within larger organisations. This trend is replicated globally based on feedback at a recent local organisers' round table meeting at DrupalCon Amsterdam.

With DrupalSouth now in a better position to assist local organisers, we discussed how more funding is now available to assist with things like venue hire and pizza for attendees. DrupalSouth is also in a good position to provide centralised marketing tools for meetups and to facilitate more active collaboration between meetups. A #local-organisers Slack channel was set up after the meeting for organisers to join and share information and resources. 

Organisers discussed how finding speakers for meetups was their biggest challenge, so one idea raised was for speakers to be shared amongst locations to either deliver the same talk multiple times or run a mega-meetup via video conference across the entire region. 

Talk also turned to the fact that coming to meetups after work was problematic for many attendees, especially those with children and other responsibilities. The idea of running “Drupal Days” during work hours was raised as a potential solution that might be attractive to people working within larger organisations. These days would be viewed as Career Development Days by their managers and might include activities like Drupal introduction streams and training, deep dive developer conversations and contribution sprints.

The goal of bringing new people into the Drupal community as developers was also raised, with discussion of the idea around a “Drupal Career Paths” Working Group that will assess ways to reach graduates and developers in other communities. This approach would probably require assistance from local organisers in key cities that meetup organisers might help facilitate. 

If you’re interested in being a local organiser for your region, please contact DrupalSouth and we’ll add you to the Slack channel so you can join the discussion around how to drive some of these initiatives.