<aside> 🍝 A short note about why I decided to run for the board this year and what would I like to achieve through the year as a board member.
Context & Background
EuroPython is the largest volunteer-led conference on the planet. It not only brings developers, educators and hobbyists across the globe together but also provides a safe space for the community to discuss what bothers them the most.
The EuroPython Society (a voluntary board) takes the responsibility for organising the conference. The board is also responsible for other adjacent things like giving out grants to other community organisers, fostering deeper relations with other Python communities in the continent, and taking care of the legal and administrative aspects of running this ginormous organisation.
Why does this interest me?
My career path has been quite non-traditional. I started working for marketing and sales as an intern during the Microsoft-Nokia merger, then moved to independent data science consulting for a bit. Then to Deloitte across numerous offices worldwide and now to Research and some independent consulting on the side.
Each year since the start has been an experiment. Throughout these experiments, I realised that I always had a community to fall back on for doubts, questions, comments and suggestions. Python community has helped me through time with paid gigs, people that I call friends (who’d travel across various continents just to hang out for a bit) and a safe space to talk and discuss matters important to me freely.
In 2020, at the peak of covid madness, I moved to Germany. Frankly, it was not the best time to quit my stable job and go all-in on a master's programme. The whole process was overwhelming and I was quite isolated. But, even when things were bleak, there was this community that stood by me and invited me for hangouts, talks and discussions (over zoom ofc). There was always a sense of belongingness.
This sounds a bit dramatic, but given how much the community has supported me this is the least I can do to give back.
There are plenty of reasons to throw my hat in the ring, this is the one I hold closest to my heart.
What would I like to do?
The programme is the backbone of EuroPython (tied very close to the food :p). In 2022 we created a lot of avenues for beginners to engage with the community. This year I’d like to focus on how we can make EuroPython have a stronger Academia + Open Source collaboration.
Test community experiments. Have 2-day hackathons. Have 5-day sprints. Keeping the eye on the prize, make the programme more impactful for our attendees in-person and online.
⚡Expand the online presence of EuroPython.
This spin-out of a chat I had over a pint with a volunteer and an organiser of Trans*Code during EuroPython in Dublin. They both said that it was lovely to be able to express myself for a day and just be around people who can relate to what I’ve gone through and more. That was really heartwarming but why do we stop there? Why don’t we provide an online platform to our community to be around people they relate with 24X7?
This primarily involves reworking our Discord platform to have more relevant channels for our community to engage with.
🧠Facilitating a better experience for our neuro-diverse friends.
2022 was a fantastic year in terms of Diversity and Inclusion efforts. We got so many communities together and gave them a space to express and create magic. I’d like to work beyond just that this year and like to experiment with how we can make the conference more neuro-diverse not just in terms of number but in experience.
This goes beyond just “inviting” neuro-diverse communities. It involves creating trigger-free zones in events of sensory overload. It involves us having trained medical practitioners on-site to help. It involves us training our volunteers to be cognizant of the needs of a neuro-diverse person and much more. I’d urge you to watch this on your phone to get a small snapshot of how life can be for some of us (Youtube video).
As someone who isn’t neurotypical, I feel it’s about time we create an environment where everyone thrives.
👓Take a step back and rethink where EPS is headed.
Given the scale of EuroPython, I am still shocked by how few hands keep the show going. I think a lot of it falls down to how our bylaws are structured. This may or may not be true. But, we’ve got to start somewhere, eh? Whether it is separating the society's efforts from that of the conference organisation efforts, longer board terms or offloading some responsibility of the conference organisation to a 3rd party liaison. I feel the next board should take a step back from the day-to-day and spend some time thinking about which direction is EPS headed. This is not to say we start from scratch but we rethink how to best capitalise on the rock-solid foundation & legacy of EPS.
Got any feedback on this? Would you like to work with me to make some of this happen? Say hello to me on my Twitter (https://twitter.com/reach_vb) or drop me a ping at firstname.lastname@example.org