Organizing WordCamps in times of a world wide pandemic

Around two weeks ago, the Global Leads, the Local Lead and the Mentor of WordCamp Europe 2021 took the hard decision to postpone the in-person event in 2021 in Porto for another year and organize the next edition of WCEU online again. After the great success of this year’s event, the new organizing team will have the chance to organize an even bigger event in 2021, giving them more time focusing on the special needs for an online event. The Call for organizers ended just around a week ago. I’m wishing the new organizing team all the best – which I will not be a part of.

Stepping down as a Global Lead

Since WordCamp Europe 2017 I’ve been involved in the organizing team, when I’ve joined the Design Team. for WCEU 2018, I was part of the Content Team and for 2019 I became the Local Lead. As the tradition follows, I was nominated as the Global Lead for 2020, but realized I couldn’t do it alone. So I was joined by Tess and Jonas, preparing to be yet another great event. This was supposed to be my last year as a member of the organizing team.

WordCamp Europe Online

Then the worldwide pandemic hit one WordCamp after the other and finally we also decided to organize WCEU as an online event. Tess and Jonas couldn’t continue to organize the online event and Rocío joined me as a Global Lead, after being our mentor before. In the closing remarks I’ve announced to continue organizing WCEU in 2021, which was planed to take place in Porto. Having a previous Local Lead still involved helped many following Local Leads and therefore I wanted to support José in 2021.

Taking one year off

When we decided to move the conference online once again, I took the decision to step down as a Global Lead. I did that for two reasons. I still believe that there should be a former Local Lead involved when organizing the next edition in Porto, hopefully in 2022. Also organizing a WordCamp is a lot of work and having been involved for four straight years was quite challenging. If I’d continue being a Global Lead in 2021, this would mean that I would be Global Lead for three years in a row. Not only could that potentially burn me out, it would also mean that I wouldn’t allow any other former team member to have that role.

Therefore WCEU 2021 will be lead by Lesley and Moncho. I have no doubt that they will do an amazing job and find a good new team to organize another online WordCamp that will deliver one of the best online conference experiences possible. As an online event needs quite a different team structure, I’m looking forward to see how the will organize the team needed. I will be available in the first few weeks to transfer any knowledge necessary and am always around if help is needed. But I’m also looking forward to experience WCEU as a regular attendee again. Maybe this will even help me to get some new ideas for our WordCamp Europe in Porto.

WordCamps around the world

I’ve usually traveled to around 8-10 WordCamps a year. This year I haven’t been to a single (in-person) one. I was looking forward to WCUS, which was announced to be online end of April. But just a week ago WCUS Online was canceled and a few days later all flagship events for 2021 were announced to be online, a decision we already took for WCEU.

I don’t know about the status of any other WordCamp in 2021, yet. The WordCamp Retreat Soltau had been moved to May 2021, but given the specific format of the event, it might be hard to organize it as planed. My first trip to Asia also has to wait for another year or two. I really hope that we will be able to organize some small and local WordCamps, coming back to the initial idea of organizing them for a local community. But as soon as there is the chance to safely travel to a WordCamp in another city/country, I can’t wait to see some friends again.

Stay healthy, stay safe

Until we can meet again, please all stay healthy. As much as we probably all miss attending in-person events and see each other, the health and safety is much more important – our own and the one of everyone around us. So please support everyone around you keeping themselves healthy both physically and mentally. And as soon as we can meet again, we’ll join all the conversations, drinks, hugs, laughs and joyful moments together we are deserving! 😘

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Bernhard is a full time web developer who likes to write WordPress plugins in his free time and is an active member of the WP Meetups in Berlin and Potsdam.

3 comments » Write a comment

  1. Thank you for your incredibly engagement over the last three years, Bernhard, particularly in such difficult times like these. Making decisions for the best of thousands of people in an environment of global uncertainty requires extraordinary dedication, courage, wisdom, and obviously no small amount of grit. Your decision to step down undoubtedly is an honourable one; true leaders know when make room for others. Well done for taking a more than deserved break!

    Also, I’m wondering, since in-person WordCamps have been suspended until 2022… perhaps the time to roll out another iteration of WP Camp Berlin isn’t far… 😉

    • Thanks for your words. Decisions like these are easy and hard at the same time. Hard to make but easy to see that they are the only right ones to make.

      Regarding a WP Camp Berlin: not all WordCamps in 2021 are suspended. Only the flagship and regional events. So a WordCamp Berlin would totally be possible, if the situation would allow it. But then again, there are so many other cities in Germany who wanted to organize an event this year (some of them for the first time) and couldn’t. So I would gladly give them the opportunity and take a break as an organizer for at least another 14 months after four years of being a WCEU organizer 😉

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