Community and The Stuff We’re Made Of- Reflecting on EECI2009 and Mommy Bloggers

Travel Women in Technology

I have so many wonderful photos and stories to share about being at the EECI2009 conference. Community. The Spirit of Lifting Each Other Up. Truly inspirational.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences as of late. Blog Conferences, Development Conferences. Twestivals. But the conferences surrounding the ExpressionEngine Community is by far my favorite experience to date. I wish you could all experience this.

It’s a drastic change from the mommy blogger drama.

I had meals with the “stars” of the EE community. The Geeks that create modules, plugins, extensions. The people who extend the fabulous code EE already offers. It was like sitting with people whose brains should be too big for their heads.

But more importantly, they are people. Not overly geeky, not overly egotistical. Just funny, amazing, hilarious, real, friendly, beer-drinking people.

It was like being among my very own tribe.

I’ve known the mommy bloggers for years and years. I’ve shared births and illnesses, love, pregnancies. I’ve shared miscarriages and sleepless nights. This can be powerfully bonding. And it is. Until… Until there is a competition so fierce it negates any real emotion connected to the community. Until there is an underlying current of gossip and finger pointing. Until there is an upheaval in order to succeed and drive traffic and become known on the “grid” at whatever cost, whomever’s reputation is at stake.

It’s not that the ExpressionEngine community doesn’t compete, because we do. We strive to become better coders, developers, designers. We hope to achieve a better reputation, a higher skill set, a cleaner site. But when we find a secret, we share it. When you ask a question, we answer it. When you need an arm to help you home at night after too many liters of Leffe, they hand it to you. Even if they are the most known creators of extensions and a part of a best known design firm.

There is a real sense of community. It is not shattered false, driven by a need to step on anyone in the way of success.


I can not tell you how refreshing this is.

The conference itself was informative, dynamic, creative and perfect. All because a man from Whoooz! Media had a vision.

Photo totally stolen on Flickr from thomas.myer

And in the truest sense of the word, as I lost my voice for the second day in a row, as I was supposed to present my slides to a group about Getting Better Performance in your EE Install, an old friend, and past CTO of Ellis Lab himself, spoke my presentation for me with minimal squeaks from me in the mic.


I can find no better example for the word community.

I hope the mommy bloggers can take note. I hope we can overcome our current drive. I hope we can begin to lift each other up in the way the EE community does. Speakers mingling with newbies. Strangers laughing together over beer. People embracing each other, sometimes most literally, over a commonality inexplainable to those on the outside.

All because we use a single piece of software to create wonderful websites.

If you’d like a link to my slides, you can find them here


At the pre-conference drink, I walked up to some people standing at the bar and introduced myself. They told me they were “Henry” and “Patrick” and that they don’t mingle. I said “PISHPOSH! Who do you want to meet? I’ll introduce you.” I looked around the busy room and found Ryan Ireland, the creator of EE Insider, a guy I’d recently declared one of my bitchez earlier at the speaker dinner. “You want to meet Ryan Ireland? He’s one of my bitchez!” I told Henry and Patrick. “Bitchez?! BITCHEZ?!” Henry tried to wrap his Sweedish language around the new term. “BITCHEZ?” He rolled the word around in his mouth. Another stranger-soon-to-be-friend Andy walks up and says, “What are we doing?” Henry replies, “Learning English.”


Henry and Patrick from Sweden

Andy from Switzerland

After four years of being fantastic friends, after sharing our children’s clothes and our brownies via US Postal Mail, after praying, crying, laughing and loving each other, I finally met my dear friend Laura Camacho in Leiden. We had to travel half way around the world to meet, we laughed together. But I would go to the end of the world to meet her. I can not believe how long it’s been since we’ve had our daily chats. Once Baby O was born life whisked away and suddenly I was standing in front of her, years and years after we met, seeing her for the first time. And now I know it won’t be the last.


Low, someone whose site I refer to for ideas, even if they are in another motherf’cking language, shows us his house boat and shared his beer and gin with us. The man is a treasure. And by treasure I mean a wealth of awesome, hilarity, hospitality, and feisty. In a good way.


Photo by Joel Bradbury

And, as happens in such rare cases in the Mommy Blogging community, I met one of my alltime design loves Vereele Pieters and she was just a gracious, wonderfulness of class and grace. Which only solidified my state of wanna-be stalker if I lived anywhere near Belgium. Which I’d like to.


Photo by Joel Bradbury

And tomorrow, tomorrow I will tell you about the day trip I took to Paris. Because, well, it’s motherfuckingparis. And I have some work to catch up on now. I hear the real world is calling me back. Do you hear it? It yells Mommy a lot. Sigh.

Here’s a video from Patrick

EECI2009 - A tribute! from Patrik Theander on Vimeo.

I am forever grateful to Nevin of EngineHosting for the opportunity to experience this AMAZING conference and to Robert for inviting me. I will never have enough beer to repay them, but I’ll be working on that. Many thousand of thank yous.