It has been so many Januaries now, that I’ve come to anticipate your glowing presence. Although I was unable to attend the 2018 iteration, I am hoping that my attendance and volunteering this year will more than compensate.
I have been attending Podcamp since its inception; each year another opportunity to build community virtually and face-to-face with so many bright and brilliant individuals working across the digital landscape.
The first year I attended Podcamp (and its first year being held in Halifax), I had lived in Nova Scotia for only two short months. I was working for Symphony Nova Scotia who had tasked me with “figuring out Twitter” and so I thought it a good opportunity to learn a little more about social media and marketing opportunities.
I didn’t know anyone, nor did I know the city. I sat awkwardly alone in the hallway of Alderney Landing during lunch — unsure about where to venture in search for food and too shy to introduce myself to anyone. But, I had been captivated and learned enough to feel compelled to return for a second year.
In year two, I invited someone I only knew through blogging and Twitter. This time she was the newcomer to town — having only moved to NS herself that summer. It was the first time I bridged the virtual-IRL divide and what a pay off that leap had for me. Not only do I still consider her a friend, but she introduced me to another with whom I’ve been able to connect in profoundly important, personal ways. My community was growing richer still.
Over the next few years I came to anticipate Podcamp with a vigour nearing that of Christmas morning. As I bounded from session to session, I unabashedly exclaimed “hey! I follow you on Twitter!” as a truly under-appreciated but highly-effective ice breaker.
On one occasion I saw a cluster of attendees from my workplace. There were individuals from a few different departments, including a faculty member or two and a couple of students. (I guess I missed the memo.) They were clearly there for business purposes. Admittedly, I did receive the requisite nod of recognition and a “hello” but there was no invitation to join the cohort.
I didn’t belong with them. I didn’t belong with them but it was okay because I did belong at Podcamp. Podcamp is for everyone.
Now when I attend Podcamp I recognize so many faces from online interactions and real-life friendships. Beyond that, I feel the kinship with even those whom I don’t recognize because I know we share a passion for something that is an integral part of Podcamp. It extends beyond a love for social media and online business and into a real bringing together those who seek to make connections and actively participate in Community.
I try to emulate this intangible magic in other aspects of my online work (like through hosting BlogJam for bloggers of Atlantic Canada), but know that you, Podcamp, are the impetus for it all. Through the noise of the new and shiny and promises of something “we’ve never had before,” we have you.
Thank you to the Podcamp Halifax organizers for their steadfast devotion to building this event. Your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I know that there’s someone attending who was in my shoes that first year. So, thank you for creating and nurturing a space for that person to belong.
See you soon, #PodcampHFX