It’s Saturday, July 25th 2015. Bilbao, Spain. I am sitting in the Bizkaia Aretoa building along with 10 Django Girls participants, coaches, and organizers, and we’re all sprinting on various Django Girls-related tasks.
Some are editing or translating the tutorial, others are improving the websites they built during the workshop. And me? I’m blogging about the amazing workshop and conference that preceded this weekend.
Planning the Workshop
Since last year’s debut Django Girls workshop at EuroPython 2014 (which I graduated from), the programme exploded all over the world, so much so that our founders Ola Sitarska and Ola Sendecka were invited back to EuroPython to deliver the opening keynote. And yes, you should watch it.
With all the new responsibilities and activities involved with Django Girls in the last year, O&O couldn’t organize a workshop at this year’s EuroPython. So I did, with the help of Petr Viktorin, fellow Red Hatter and my trusted co-organizer from Django Girls Brno.
Initially we planned for a 30 participants, but unfortunately we had to downsize and ended up with 15 participants. This was due mainly to the fact that neither Petr nor myself live in Spain, and we didn’t have enough contacts to promote the workshop locally.
Of course it all worked out at the end, though, and we had a smaller but very dynamic group of women from very diverse backgrounds and very interesting stories! And what with all the surrounding conference logistics to take care of, I’m confident that we made the right decision.
People, Places, and Things
We partnered with EuroPython who provided space, food, infrastructure and conference tickets. We also were very lucky to be able to process sponsorship funds and financial aid via the EuroPython finance workgroup (this was pre-DGF), which allowed us bring international participants to Spain.
Recruiting coaches wasn’t a problem. In fact, we didn’t recruit any! As soon as we announced the workshop, we were flooded with emails from EuroPython attendees who offered to coach for us. We had over 30 coach applicants, out of which we selected five coaches (all women!) and two meta-coaches to assist throughout the day.
Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to provide financial aid for our international participants, as well as swag, equipment, and decordations for the workshop and booth. We had the honor of being sponsored by the following organizations:
And stickers. Oh my!
We welcomed our participants to the workshop before the EuroPython breakfast, and then ushered everyone into the Google room at the Euskalduna Conference Center for the opening keynote.
Coding commenced immediately afterwards, and as in previous workshops, most of the time we couldn’t peel the participants out of their seats. If we didn’t need to lock the room for lunch, they probably would have skipped it altogether!
Not everyone finished their websites by the end of the day, but most managed to deploy their websites and most importantly: Experienced their first dive into Web development!
After the workshop, we unleashed our newly-inducted Web developers who attended talks, workshops, and conference activities throughout the week. We made sure to point them to all beginner-friendly talks, and it seemed that they had a great time exploring the world of Python and meeting the community.
We also had our very own Django Girls booth alongside other open source projects, where conference attendees could ask questions about the programme and discuss possible collaborations. This was also the spot where our graduates could find us if they felt lost or needed help with conference-related questions.
Our booth was soon titled “the happiest place at EuroPython”, complete with our first roll-up, palm tree and giant doughnut.
1-Year Birthday Party
On Thursday evening we all gathered in the park near the conference venue to celebrate the programme’s first birthday. Blankets, more cupcakes, drinks, and music accompanied a relaxed and fun evening-turn-night, as we raised a toast to celebrate the hard work that was put into this project and all the friends and supporters who keep the programme running and expanding.
Django Girls Sprint
It seems that it’s almost a tradition now, to hold a post-workshop sprint. Started as a last-minute idea last year at EuroPython 2014, the Django Girls sprint allows our graduates, coaches, and organizers, to get together around the same table and work on all things Django Girls.
I never know what to expect from these sprints, because we don’t require registrations for it, and the type of tasks that are done depend a great deal on who’s in the room at the time and what they are in the mood for. Our sprinters can team up on-the-fly with other sprinters and work together, or they can work on their own. There’s something for everyone!
Specifically today, we had quite a few translators on-board, and also several graduates who teamed up with coaches to improve their website. We even had a surprise coaching session about packaging the website in a Docker container. Dockerizing Django Girls? Why not!
It’s been a packed week, following months of preparations, emails, tweets, designs, and lots of late-night hacking, but when I looked around the workshop room and saw the buzzing activity, the smiles and laughs, I knew it was all worth it.
Unlike most local Django Girls workshops, organizing a conference-attached workshop with a higher percentage of international participants involved a lot more logistics and financial consideration, so if I had one piece of advice for future organizers of workshops of this type it would be to recruit a local organizer.
There’s only so much we can rely on the conference organizers, and EuroPython did their absolute best to help us out as much as they could, but they had over 1,000 attendees of their own to wrangle, and I probably would have been able to sleep a bit more if I didn’t have to take care of the local arrangements remotely.
Otherwise, I’m very much in favor of partnering with Python and Django conferences, as it gives a great added value to our participants, who can utilize their new knowledge and confidence right away and meet the communities who support and encourage their presence in these events.
And now, time for siesta!
Hugs, cupcakes, and pintxos,