WordCamp Bern 2017

Organising this year's Swiss WordPress event

Ulrich Pogson,

Origin Story

Before I used to work at required in 2013 Silvan found out that I lived in Switzerland from a discussion on GitHub and asked me if I wanted to help organize WordCamp Switzerland in 2014.

https://twitter.com/neverything/status/402694217991856129

As I was new to the community this felt like a huge privilege to be able to organize a WordPress conference. I had only started working with WordPress less than two years before that.

Me giving the opening remarks

After a successful event in 2014, I again helped Silvan, Karin and Noel organize the event again in 2015. In 2016 the community in Geneva was ready to organize a WordCamp. In the meantime, the Bern WordPress Meetup group which was started shortly before the first WordCamp Switzerland in 2014 started to grow and flourish.

I always thought it would be cool to organize a WordCamp in Bern as it is quite central in Switzerland but was not sure if we would have enough volunteers to help out. Towards the end of WordCamp Geneva, a number of people who are part of our local Meetup group in Bern expressed interest in organizing a WordCamp in Bern.

Planning

I sent the application at the end of February and in March we got approved. The team was split up with Gerd and I taking the lead and helping out where needed. Stefan created all of the design items like logo, t-shirts and flyers. Mark did the website while Andrew managed the speakers. The sponsors were found by Patricia, Simon and Stephan. Marc was in charge of the videos on the day and Pascal led the contributor day on the Friday. We also had Mathias and Rochelle join us from later in the organization to help out with different tasks.

Locations

We looked at a few locations. We ended up choosing to use one of University Bern buildings that right next to the Bern main train station. The Research Center for Digital Sustainability at Bern University were a great help with getting the location. Thank you, Matthias! Initially, I was apprehensive of the University as I did not want people to feel like they are coming back to school but it worked out very good. The university building known as UniS was previously a Maternity Hospital and had a very modern feel. There was enough space for the 125 attendees and we could easily use the same location in the future for more attendees.

Location for the WordCamp

Day of the Event

On the day we had 126 of 140 tickets sold. We had 20 speakers across two tracks. The volunteers were really great. I was really pleased how the room managers were able to introduce all of the speakers and were able to seamlessly switch speakers. The people at the registration did an amazing job. It was nice to see how everyone rose to the challenge as most of the team had not organized a WordCamp before.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BY0rSARFSJ0/

Reflection

The WordCamp was for me a huge success. There were times where it was stressful and I was not able to concentrate fully at work but my team at required were very understood and supported. I was even able to use 5% of my work time to organize the WordCamp. There were times when we could laugh even in times of stress like when a package got sent to Swaziland instead of Switzerland. I look forward to handing over the reigns to someone else to lead the organization of the next WordCamp in Bern. I would like to work on improving the documentation and creating a checklist for future organizers to make their life easier.

It is really nice to see the community in Switzerland growing. In 2014 there were only three meetups. Today we have 7 meetups and we’re talking about starting meetups in Basel and Chur in the future.

Silvan made a short video of the closing remarks:

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