As I mentioned in my PyOhio recap, I finally met William McVey, who will be leading the Cincinnati Tech Events initiative. I also have Catherine Devlin on board, being the first community member to volunteer to take lead on one of the sites and running the Dayton Tech Events initiative. What you probably don’t know is that there are others.
Finding the Need of the Tech Events Sites
When I was in college, I was introduced to the idea of user groups. The Toledo Area Linux Users Group (TALUG) held their meetings in one of our engineering buildings, and since I was on campus, I found the location to be very convenient. Add to it that it was about Linux, something that my friend Nivex had me look into over the summer leading into college. So I attended a few TALUG meetings, and I really got a good vibe (even though they used to tease me because they knew I preferred Microsoft technologies). In April 1999, I co-presented with Nivex, and I would give another presentation later that year. I really liked this user group stuff.
After college, though, I returned home to Cleveland, as the economy continued going down the wrong road. While I was getting settled working “in the real world”, I had to wonder if there were any user groups. My friend (and then co-worker) Martin mentioned that there was a Cleveland Linux users group. While I enjoyed my time with TALUG, I knew I wasn’t ready for another Linux user group. I needed to find something more aligned with my Microsoft-friendly tendencies.
I eventually shifted jobs and moved into the IT realm (from tech support). I was working in a situation that had me on call 24/7, with little time for me to even think about user groups. I felt so disconnected and so burdened that it eventually wore on me.
Once I found a developer position, I had more time on my hands. I work during business hours, but I have time after work to pursue my interests. My friend Russ told me about this .NET developer user group that meets once a month that he thought I might be interested in. So I checked it out, as I was excited to see a user group more inline with my preferences. And this got me thinking again… are there other groups out there besides this group and the Linux users group? For a city as big as Cleveland, I would’ve expected some easy way to find them. But it just wasn’t there.
If It’s Not There, Make It There
I enjoyed going to that .NET user group, and in the next few months, I would add another .NET group and a SQL Server group to the list of user groups that I frequented. As I found out about other groups, I kept thinking about putting together a site of the groups I was finding. But then I realized that it would be a large, time-consuming task. I was a little hesitant, as I really enjoyed my time after work and wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit to such a project.
Fast forward to October 2008… I was home from work, fighting an unexplained case of bronchitis, and getting stir crazy at home. My body was a physical disaster, but my mind wouldn’t shut down. So to appease my mind, I came up with a project to work on – that’s how Cleveland Tech Events started. I started with 4 or 5 user groups and then embarked on a search on the Internet for other groups.
The site has grown over the past couple years – over 40 user groups now and still growing. People are talking about the site, and thanks to their suggestions, it continues to thrive.
If It’s Successful, Grow It
After awhile, I realized that if Cleveland had this issue, what about the rest of my friends in OH and MI? (I chose those two states because that’s where a lot of my friends are and that’s where I spend most of my time.) Unfortunately, someone else has Detroit Tech Events. However, I was able to grab some of the other localities – Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids for Michigan. As for Ohio, I grabbed Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Canton, Akron, and Toledo.
I started updating Columbus Tech Events, as Columbus is my home away from home. After I got Cleveland and Columbus going, I caught others’ attention – those who want a site like that in their area. I got Dayton Tech Events set up, and Catherine Devlin has been running that operation since it opened. William McVey will be running Cincinnati Tech Events, which will be transitioned over hopefully in the next couple weeks.
Looking for Leaders
The following sites are looking for a leader to run the community initiative:
- Columbus Tech Events
- Toledo Tech Events
- Ann Arbor Tech Events
- Lansing Tech Events
- Grand Rapids Tech Events
I am looking for leaders for some of the other sites, so if you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – an account specifically used for these Tech Events sites.