Category: Project Update

Event Planning for Geeks Workshop to Debut at OSCON 2012

This summer, Sherri, Audrey and I will debut our Event Planning for Geeks workshop at OSCON. We gave a very successful session on this topic at last year’s OSCON and decided to scale it up to be a three-hour interactive workshop.

I’ve included the description and abstract below, or you can read about it on the OSCON schedule. If you’re planning to attend OSCON, but haven’t yet purchased your ticket, use the code OS12FOS to receive 20% off your ticket price.


A fun, comprehensive tutorial on how to host a successful code sprint, hackathon, (un)conference or workshop.


Event Planning for Geeks is back with even more resources for event organizers from beginners on up! We’ve expanded our successful talk from last year’s OSCON into a full three-hour workshop.

If you’ve ever thought about hosting a code sprint, hackathon, (un)conference or workshop, this talk is for you. We’ll give you an overview of what you need to know to execute a successful event, including:

  • assembling and organizing your planning team
  • identifying and securing a venue for your event
  • how to get money and pay for things
  • volunteer recruitment and management
  • determining your event format and creating your event’s schedule
  • advertising your event
  • tickets and registration
  • insurance, liability and what to do when things go wrong
  • deciding on must haves and nice-to-haves (e.g. food, wifi, etc)
  • dealing with venue logistics (space, sound, power, etc.)
  • codes of conduct, after parties, considerations for serving alcohol
  • how to keep the momentum once your first event is over

Attendees will also receive copies of our event planning handbook and links to examples of how we run specific events like Open Source Bridge, Ignite Portland and BarCamp Portland.

Summer Conference Schedule and Other Projects

It’s been quiet around here because I’ve been busy running BarCamp Portland and planning for Open Source Bridge, among other things. And it’s not going to slow down any time soon. Here’s my Summer conference schedule and an update on some of the projects that will be keeping me busy for the next several months.

21-24 June — Open Source Bridge

The conference for open source citizens, now in it’s third edition. I’m co-chairing the event this year, so while I won’t be giving any talks, I’ll be kicking off the conference and hanging around to make sure things run smoothly. Registration is still open, so come check it out if you’re able and be sure to find me and say hi.

23-34 July — Community Leadership Summit

The CLS is a free unconference for community organizers. I attended last year and found it worthwhile to connect with other community leaders who are in town from all over the US and beyond to attend OSCON.

25-29 July — OSCON

I’m giving two talks at OSCON this year: Tools for Spelunking a New-to-You Codebase and Event Planning for Geeks with Sherri Montgomery and Audrey Eschright.

Other Projects

WhereCampPDX (7-9 October)

WhereCampPDX is a free, volunteer-created unconference for anyone interested in geography and technology and this will be it’s 4th year. I’m helping to organize and if you want to help out, you can join our mailinglist.

Tech Workshops for Beginners

We want to run a series of recurring intro technology workshops. The workshops will be peer-driven, have a low instructor-to-student ratio and serve as the base for on-going mentor relationships. We’re not looking to teach a specific language, but rather offer a handful and let students choose what they connect with most. To make this a success, we’re going to need a lot of help from the community. Want to get involved? We have a mailinglist for that.

Stumptown Syndicate

The Syndicate is a non-profit that Audrey, Reid and I started late last year. Its purpose is to support technology education and professional development through fundraising, space and resource coordination, and other activities. It’s the organization we used to run Open Source Bridge, and we’ll be using it to run WhereCamp and possibly some other events this year. We want to earn 501(c)(3) status so that we can accept tax-deductible donations and we’ll be working on our application over the summer. Want to help? Email us at Want to keep track of our progress? We have a newsletter for that.

BarCamp Planning

Yes, yes, I know, we just had BarCamp Portland 5. But there’s a lot we want to accomplish for next year’s event and so we’re going to start early. We want to totally revamp our branding and our website and do a lot better at marketing the event. Want to help? Yup, you guessed it, we have a mailinglist for that too.

State of Portland Tech and How you Can Make it (Even) Better

Portland has a pretty amazing tech scene, but it is often overlooked in favor or our big sisters to the north and south (Seattle and the SF Bay Area). Don’t worry, this isn’t another post about how Portland is the best city in which to base your start up. I don’t know if Portland is the best city to base your start-up in, or to move your company to, or to try and make a life in. Those decisions are highly dependent on a lot of factors that are personally unique.

What I do want to talk about is all that Portland tech does have going for it, what we’re lacking, and how we could do better. Portland tech folk do some pretty amazing things, but we could be doing even more.

What we do well

One thing Portland has going for it is a robust support structure for the software community in the form of a grassroots network of user groups and events. Our community-driven network provides mentoring, skill and job development, not to mention camaraderie. Dozens of technologies, languages and platforms are represented across several user groups that meet monthly. We also get a whole lot done. We put on events ranging from weekend unconferences like BarCamp, WhereCamp and CodeCamp to week-long professional conferences like Open Source Bridge. We launch and maintain projects like Calagator and CivicApps. We gather to work on projects together at regular, twice-weekly hackathons.

We’re an open source and open data hub. Oregon State’s Open Source Lab has a presence in Portland. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux lives in Portland, along with many, many other prominent open source contributors. Portland is home to projects such as Calagator, Open Conference Ware, AutomateIT, PDXAPI, Puppet and Concrete5. For several years the biggest conference about open source technology, OSCON, has been hosted by Portland. We’ve also hosted RubyConf and PyCon and will be hosting Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing next year. Open Source philosophy is embraced deeply here, even in how we interact with our local government as evidenced by the CivicApps initiative.

We have a lot of software companies and they create significant economic impact. Notable software companies in the Portland metro area include: Jive Software, Webtrends, Survey Monkey, Tripwire, Inc., OpenSourcery, Sage Software, eRoi, AboutUs, Coaxis, Textronics, Oracle, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Google (via Instantiations), Microsoft, Galois. I could go on and on.

And, yes, I realize I’ve included companies that are not headquartered here in Oregon. I’ve done this intentionally because these companies still have a tremendous impact in terms of the folks they employ and the events in which they are involved.

In 2006, high tech employed 60 out of 1,000 Oregonians in the private sector and offered wages that were 101% higher compare to other private sector jobs. And 31% of these jobs are based in Portland. In 2005 software companies created $9.20 billion in economic impact across the state. These numbers are a few years old, but you get the idea: the software sector is a large slice of Oregon’s economic pie (source).

We have a rich start-up culture that includes: Puppet Labs, Urban Airship, ShopIgniter, Elemental Technologies, Second Porch, JanRain, Active Trak, Small Society and more. Portland start-ups have received roughly $130 million in Venture Capital in the last year (source). Additionally, we have support organizations for start-ups such as: Portland Ten, the Oregon Entrepreneur Network, the Oregon Technology and Business Center, and now the Portland Seed Fund.

What we need to do better

We need better public relations. We have a compelling story and we need to start telling it on a national level. Portland is a viable competitor on the national tech scene and people should know this.

One of the reasons to tell our story better and to more people is to attract business as well as engineering talent to Portland. We need to get folks who have experience creating successful exits for start-ups. We need folks that have experience nurturing small- and medium-size businesses. We also need more of the executive- and director-level expertise that companies need in order to grow. I have heard more than one start-up CEO lament about struggling to find qualified people locally and instead having to import it.

However, importing folks is not the only way to solve a talent shortage. We also need to grow executives and directors locally.

We can do this by better supporting the grassroots knowledge network that I mention above and by creating a way for individuals become experienced at running companies. The business incubators we have already are a good start, but we can do better.

How You can Help

Software Town Hall

Start by coming to the Software Town Hall discussion next Thursday, 11/18, 4:30pm at City Hall. You should RSVP here.

A bit of background on this event: Earlier this year, the Portland Development Commission identified four sectors for economic growth. Software was one of them. Over the last six months, the PDC has conducted three surveys, each building on the previous, in order to find out how the software sector could best be supported for economic growth. Three target areas were identified:

  • supporting Portland’s knowledge network
  • creating a business mentor network
  • fostering a financial network

“Conveners” have committed to shepherd each of these three targets:

  • PSU, via Warren Harrison, will take the lead on supporting Portland’s knowledge base.
  • The SAO, via Matt Nees, will take the lead on creating a business mentor-ship program.
  • The PDC, via Gerald Baugh, will take lead on the financial network.

Next week is the beginning of the conversation about how we grow and improve the three targets above. It’s your opportunity to weigh in with your issues, ideas and concerns, and to say how you will contribute.

If you are concerned about the future of software in Portland, you should be there and lend your voice to the discussion.

Join the Stumptown Syndicate

Reid, Audrey and I are starting a project that will help support Portland’s knowledge network: the Stumptown Syndicate.

Briefly, our mission is to support education and career development for technology professionals through fundraising, space and resource coordination, and other activities.

We have two immediate goals:

  1. to maintain and provide a central meeting and event space for individuals and groups.
  2. to provide financial support to such individuals and groups in the form of fiscal infrastructure and/or grants.

But first we need to incorporate as a non-profit and that’s where you come in. If you help with these start-up costs, let us know.

We’re still working on pushing content to our website, so if you have any questions about the Syndicate, want to know when we get up and running, or want to help in other ways, contact me (or Reid, or Audrey) directly.

Run for the Legion of Tech Board

Legion of Tech is the organization that brings you BarCamp, Ignite and other events. We’re the welcoming committee to Portland’s tech scene, and we’re recruiting board members. Read more about how to apply and then get your application in! (The deadline is coming up quick: 11/17).


Go to a user group. Start a user group. Run an unconference. Write about your experiences with Portland tech. Seek out and welcome new members of the community. Got questions about how to do any of these things? Just ask! I’m happy to answer your questions and I know others leaders in the community are as well.

Enough about what I think, what do you think?

What can we do to make Portland’s tech scene strong? How can your business and/or career be supported better? Have I neglected to a person, company or project above? Let me know in the comments.