The 2023 Umbraco HQ visit by the community teams has just wrapped up, and as I sit in the lobby of the Plaza hotel drinking coffee and waiting for my train, I thought I'd capture some thoughts of the last 3 days I've spend in the company of some of the most energetic, thoughtful, friendly but also dedicated and driven people that I've had the pleasure to share my time with.
A little background
Since 2021 I've been a part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team (formerly Diffs) and earlier this year I was grateful to be selected to the Packages Team, which takes on the task of promoting Packages and the Marketplace as a first class citizen in the Umbraco ecosystem. With the exception of a break for the global pandemic, the various Community teams have met annually to meet face-to-face, discuss ideas, challenges, opportunities to work together and to look to the future - it's a unique community event, and one I haven't yet been able to experience, as I couldn't make the previous one in 2022.
As I'm a member in two teams, I'd be floating between both the DE&I and the Packages team and would need to pick and choose my contributions and conversations during the time I had, but I still had a lot of hopes and more than a few expectations. The remaining teams each had their own individually planned sessions as well as grouped sessions which we all did together.
A conversation with Jason and Kai Wodicka
I started with the DE&I team on a video call with Jason Wodicka and their husband Kai which was structured as a guided conversation and workshop around defining what we want to do in this team, further cementing our understanding of the nature of the work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and why it's so important.
We have too many takeaways and ideas to enumerate in a single blog post, and over the coming weeks and months we will be working through our notes, planning and acting on these. We were joined for this, and for much of the following 2 days by Carole Logan and Joke Van Hamme and during the workshop we talked through so much, looking at our definitions, our blind-spots, the areas we actively focus on and those we choose to work on later (which doesn't mean we don't care about these issues, rather we choose to focus our energy).
There will be more which comes from this workshop and our work, but the nugget of gold I want to share from the many during this workshop came from Kai, talking about the work of DE&I is all there "to open the doors to allow more people to do Awesome things" - and this was it!
Everyone has the capacity to Do Awesome Things, but some don't get the opportunity, or don't feel safe to try. By removing barriers and opening doors and creating safe spaces we can welcome more people, and thus get more awesome things!
Packages and the New Back Office
After much food for thought I joined the Packages team. In the morning session, Niels Lyngsø gave us a tour of the state of the New Back-Office (codename "Bellissima") which although I missed while I was in the workshop above, I was able to catch up from a recording. It's an exciting time, where the replacement for the old and no-longer supported AngularJs Back Office is being replaced with one built on modern front-end technologies and because of this will last for many years without going obsolete.
The package team assists the community with package creation, and specifically going forward will be working with this new back office to help both new and existing package authors build their packages with articles, guides and templates. Our focus was on running the new codebase ourselves and getting familiar with the tools and tech used to build the new backoffice, and to start to migrate our own repositories to support it.
We started with the UI Examples repository (available on GitHub at https://github.com/umbraco/UI-Examples) and started building this up, but equally important over the next few days were the various conversations we had with HQ members throughout the day, answering our questions and helping our understanding.
Over the following 2 days we would continue to work on this, as well as documentation and gathering information on the more popular packages in the marketplace so we can assist the authors in the transition, and we leave with a huge chunk and several components done and a number of active branches and open issues in-progress as we continue with our efforts.
HQ Sessions and Discussing Diversity and Kim & Steffie
Closing out the workshops, there were sessions organised with various HQ groups including the SWAT experience for those budding Support Warriors, the Bjarke Berg masterclass - an AMA with the promise that we could ASK questions, and he would probably answer them, a discussion of the impact of the European Accessibility Act with Filip or a tour with the awesome D-Team of the wonderful world of the Issue Tracker - all of which promised to be genuinely interesting, but I joined by CEO Kim and Steffie, the Events Team lead and head Creator of Events to talk about the state of Umbraco Events and Diversity.
A lot was discussed, including past events and the availability of HQ members over the years, the approach of accessibility and the commitment from HQ to hit a minimum number of 25%, but aiming for an ideal of 35% non-male speakers - as enshrined in the Community Events and Festivals guidelines along with the Code of Conduct, and how that drive in conjunction with the efforts of this community has had such a marked effect over the last few years, as highlighted by this post by Chloé Skye. Kim's passionate defence of this commitement as a part of this meeting was so powerful, it could have been posted online in it's entirety.
Outside of the efforts of the DE&I team, which feedback our thoughts to HQ, it's really energising to see the same push from all levels of the HQ and the majority of community to maintain these targets, and although concerns were raised in an open and honest forum it was great to see these discussed and feedback taken on board on how both sides could do better - because that's what we're all here to try to do!
My Danish is a long way from passable, as marked by my managing to catch the wrong train from Copenhagen to Odense, and an impromptu tour as a result, but Fællesskab means community - and that's not surprisingly my biggest takeaway from these last 2 days.
Outside of the workshops and the work within our teams, we enjoyed social events planned by HQ and some of the best conversations and bonds within the community and the various teams were formed discussing things during these times, including whether we should Async all the things at 2am outside the hotel, and Bjarke absolutely annihilating a nail during the traditional closing Hammerschlagen (that thing must have sunk 3 inches in one hit!).
The sheer delight of witnessing different teams either working independently or collaboratively on ideas and resolving issues was truly amazing, and although I'm sure that HQ gained as much as we in the community teams did over the past few days I'm grateful for the opportunity to have this focused time with my peers to help shape the future of this community we love.
The immediate future contains a lot of rest and recovery, spending time with my family and beyond that I'll be thinking about the things I've experienced, the ideas I've discussed, but energised to keep this momentum going. Various upcoming events were also kicked off including the Umbraco x Candid Contributions Hacktoberfest Hackathon and the form for 24 days in Umbraco - so with those to look forward to I'm going to sign off and head home, basking in the warm glow of this awesome community and all the love I've felt in the last few days.
I sit on the train back to Copenhagen Airport, listening to today's Album from the https://1001albumsgenerator.com (thanks @EmaBurst ❤️) with that feeling still coursing through all of me - this has been a community event like no other I've ever experienced, but wow, was it amazing!
Title image credit : Jonny Burstow