PodcampAZ organizing committee for 4 out of 5 years. Last year I bowed out, blaming it on having too much to do. Which I think, looking back, was total BS. EVERY year is busy. I will always have a ton of things going on, and a ton to do. I am (for the most part) happy that way. I like being a part of things, being involved. I know I always bitch and moan about Arizona, but that's really all political. Oh, and the heat. Gorram heat and the air quality and... oh well nevermind.
Seriously though, the community in the Metro Phoenix area just can't be beat. Even my friend Scott was telling me that it would be hard to find this unique community involvement in the Manhattan area, or even the Boston area. It just doesn't happen. The Valley really is a place where you can find a group for just about anything- and probably run into at least 5 people you know at each, who will welcome you with open arms. And beer. So when PodcampAZ was in its beginnings, I jumped at the chance to get involved.
I look at PodcampAZ as sort of an underdog in the big scheme of events that happen in the valley. In some ways, it's harder to sell a free conference than a paid one. You just don't get the same level of commitment from attendees, and in some cases volunteers, not to mention the fact that you're trying to explain why this is even worth the time when it's free. For some reason putting a dollar sign with something adds value in people's minds. And explaining the whole "un-conference" theme to people? Sheesh. I'm so glad we've changed the name!
This year of organizing was without a doubt the best year I've had working on PodcampAZ. Sure, you get your bumps in the road. People join in, then disappear. We scramble to get things done last minute because well, you know we all have a life and that takes precedent at times. But for the most part, everything stayed on track, and we all worked together really well. Another committee member mentioned that she felt for the first time that she truly felt included and actually contributed this time. This was a good thing. We stuck together, and have been there all these years because we see the potential this (un) conference has to offer, and we work our booties off to show this to you. Things went so well, we actually had time to sit and get to know each other better during the weekend- and I consider that a win. My fellow volunteers are awesome, and I consider them all my friends. I'm proud of them and what was accomplished this year.
We don't make a penny off this conference, it all comes from amazing sponsors and goes right back into the weekend. What brings us together is our love of this community and all it has to offer. We all ready know this. We know how awesome the community is, know a lot of the people all ready in it. We also know many more who *should* get involved and learn more about these things as well. We know the benefits, and we want to share. We believe in this cause, because it's helped us in so many different ways, and we want it to help you too. That's why we volunteer. For me, it's worth every Saturday spent driving across town to meet.
Even though we all are in it together, you can't have a committee without someone taking the reigns and leading. He doesn't make a big deal out of it, but without Tyler keeping us on track we never would have pulled it off. I think he took on too much at times, but that's to be expected when you're the go-to person. I think I can speak for all of us who organized the weekend when I say how grateful I am to him. Tyler made us a team. He's not going to be as involved next year as we plan for TechPhx, and he will be missed. We also know that we have a strong enough backbone to continue on and make the inaugural TechPhx one of the best weekends ever!
We're always looking for more to help too! As you see from my last post, we all have multiple roles in this. We're not just organizers. We're attendees. We're presenters. We're there just like everyone else, and the more the merrier. We had 9-10 people this year, and as I said it was the smoothest year I've had. I can only imagine how 20 volunteers would be. Or 30. Almost makes me feel like I could lead it. ;)
When things get rolling again after the holidays, be on the lookout for how to get involved with one of the most original, innovative conferences that's not a conference in the valley!