You may know I have been organizing the North York WP Meetup for WP Toronto for three years but what you may not know is that I commute from Brampton to do it! I realized pretty quickly when people from as far away as Hamilton and Burlington were in attendance in a North York Meetup that the west GTA was woefully under served – no happiness flowing west of Yonge except the Etobicoke Civic Centre where Jacques Surveyer runs monthly Meetups on the fourth Wednesday of each month. To find the next Meetup, you have to go to Oakville!
I just couldn’t understand how cities the size of Mississauga and Brampton could not have local Meetups. However, in order to have a consistently successful monthly Meetup discussion or site clinic, someone has to take responsibility and volunteer a lot of their time to organize the event and make sure there’s someone there knowledgeable enough to answer the questions that come in. As lead organizer for WP Toronto, I was already busy with WordCamp preparations so I reached out to a contact in the City of Brampton, Jennifer Vivian, Manager of Entrepreneurial Services for the Economic Development and Culture office. Jennifer immediately loved the idea and pledged to help but the process was pretty long to get all the particulars ironed out so although the idea was proposed in May it only came to fruition in November. Since I already had two Meetups planned in November and WordCamp is on December 1st I was hesitant to confirm but then I just couldn’t resist bringing WP site fix happiness to my home town.
After three years of organizing the North York Meetup I know what’s involved in the process: Monthly room bookings, yearly venue contracts, monthly Meetup.com edits, dealing with facilities staff and projector issues, taking notes and posting them to the website, answering questions, moderating the clinic etc. So in this special case of a popup, I think it’s important to get the people with some skin in the game on-board such as the local government or business development offices. These site clinics mainly cater to small business owners who are trying to maintain their own site and need some support so it’s a natural fit for these organizations to help take some burden from our volunteer task force.
In the case of the City of Brampton’s Entrepreneurship Office they were able to reserve us a nice library meeting room, provide us with some extra publicity beyond the Meetup notice, brought some City swag and even coffee. Although this library meeting room was good, the Entrepreneur office is moving into a new space in January with a state-of-the-art meeting room that they are going to host the Meetups in. Good-bye crappy internet, this room’s got 5G!
David Michaels of Trademark Pro volunteered to be our resident expert representing WP Toronto and of course I couldn’t miss this Meetup. We had about 10 people come with questions but interestingly we had several more seasoned WPers attend as well so we were able to have a lively discussion on many topics. We had 27 people register and among them was Uzo who was very helpful in answering attendees questions and contributing his knowledge to the site clinic (hopefully a new resident expert!)
“While I am not new to using WordPress, I am trying to improve my skills, especially to do a good job at building a professional site. When I discovered there was a meet-up group this week in Brampton, I decided it was worth the time and effort to drive from Hamilton to attend. I really appreciated this group, who were actually meeting for the first time! I did not get all my questions answered, but I got a good start. And I got a couple of important fixes from David, the most knowledgeable of the group participating.
Kudos to Jennifer Vivian (Economic Development, Brampton) and Kristine Black (WP event organizer) for hosting this event and initiating what appears to be a very needed group in that community.”
The best part of the 1st WPtoronto.com pop-up meeting in Brampton is that we are already self-sufficient and plan on starting a WP Brampton monthly WP site clinic Meetup in January 2019. WP Toronto is interested in starting clinics in all the under-served areas of the GTA so if you have a connection with a local agency willing to sponsor WPToronto.com pop-up clinics, please get in touch. We’d be happy to share our expertise and encourage local Meetups staffed by local volunteers and experts.
The WP Toronto team looks forwards to hosting more pop-up WP site clinics and establishing local WordPress chapters so get in touch and let us help! For more info on how you can bring a WP Meetup to your community check out this link: https://make.wordpress.org/community/handbook/meetup-organizer/welcome/