A small portion of my world was shaken by The Drupal Association's announcement about Neil and Marta today. Neil had some rocky times with the community, but Drupalcon Denver really changed all of that. As he came to understand the community and how passionate we all are about what we do and how tight a community we all are he became one of us. I would hazard to say there are a significant number of us that don't just think of him as the con's organizer but also a close friend. I got to know Neil well during Drupalcon Denver and can honestly say that his grounded down-to-earth nature, his skills as an organizer, and his willingness to listen and adapt to how we do things was a real boon to the community. You will be missed.
I don't know Marta as well as Neil, but I've very much enjoyed my visits with her.
Good luck to both of you, and this is an open invitation - if there is anything I can do to help with these next steps in your careers, let me know.
I was highly surprised at the seeming suddenness of the decision. I'm saddened by this, mostly because in the non-profit world we try and be a little more open with our workers that we are laying off. We try to give folks lead time so they can figure out their next steps. It felt more corporate and sterile than I'm comfortable with.
I'll also be curious to find out how different the job descriptions are going to be than the current positions. It would have been kind to give the right of first refusal to Neil and Marta provided they were qualified.
The Future of Drupalcon
A number of years ago there was quite a bit of discussion around operating Drupalcon through a vendor like O'Reilly. We have a strong relationship with the organization including Tim O'Reilly keynoting in San Francisco and many publications like Using Drupal. Back in 2009, Jacob wrote a blog post on g.d.o to start testing the waters, to see what people might think. A lively discussion ensued. I have no doubt that the Association has a plan in place for upcoming Drupalcons and I suspect it includes outsourcing to a company like O'Reilly.
Assuming this is the case, I truly hope the Association keeps the following things in mind.
- Drupalcons are community driven. There is something amazingly special about the local team helping make decisions. I would never trade the experience I had with Drupalcon Denver.
- Drupalcons have tried to stay economical for participants. While the ticket prices have increased (I was able to dig up the prices going back to Boston) they pretty much stabilized at ~$400 USD starting in Copenhagen (about double what Boston cost each attendee). This was quite a bit more expensive in Munich where it rose a little above $500 USD. $500 is still pretty cheap for a professional conference. I really hope the association is able to maintain control.
- Drupalcons are not sterile. I hope the character that our community brings to the table doesn't evaporate.
Holly does indicate that outsourcing will be a bridge, not an outcome for the event and that some answers will come tomorrow.
I'm eager to hear what the evolution will be for the conference.
Many thanks to mcmrbt on Flickr for licensing his photo under the Creative Commons.