DrupalCon Takeaways - Rachel Lawson

An Interview with Rachel Lawson | Sprinkler of the Drupal Sparkle at Open Development Ltd

Oh! Hey there, my name is Piyush Jain and as a new staff member at the Drupal Association I wanted to learn what the community likes so much about DrupalCon. Community is what cements Drupal as a leading technology world over, and many community members meet at DrupalCon year after year to learn, share experiences, and bond. So I reached out to a few community members to find out about their experiences. Here is another conversation in my series. If you haven’t been to a DrupalCon, here is a little more about our events.

This week, I spoke with Rachel Lawson (rachel_norfolk), who has been part of the Drupal community for 11 years, and attended 6 DrupalCons.


Piyush: Rachel how about we start with your first DrupalCon.

Rachel: That would be at DrupalCon London and I had only just really started to use Drupal and become familiar with it, it wasn't a full time job and I was lucky enough for my company to be able to pay for me to go there.


I signed up to volunteer, you know, just kind of help people in rooms and that was fantastic because it meant I got to talk to a lot of people rather than just consume, it made you a part of the experience and got to know people through doing that. There are people that I have gotten to know and are friends with till this day.


Piyush: What do you see yourself gaining out of DrupalCon?

Rachel: Contact with friends, colleagues and peers who I wouldn't normally see. It helps maintain contacts and helps to create the people who will one day replace me, what I hope for most now to be replaced and for the next people who want to get involved in Drupal, to give them the encouragement and confidence to become active members of the community instead of passive members who just consume Drupal, and actually become people who are Drupal, it’s that next generation that comes along and that is a great thing.


Piyush: How has DrupalCon given you an edge at work?

Rachel: I have my own company there is just me in my company, so I can’t really say much about work but I am more visible within the community. I can make more connections, it gives me the ability to ask people about something I might not know and I know if I ask someone I will get a reply.


Piyush: How have you been able to use the learnings from DrupalCon?

Rachel: That happens, of course. I can’t think of any specific examples though.


Piyush: What is your most memorable experience from your first DrupalCon

Rachel: It is funny because I was talking about this with someone today. By coincidence, I knew Jesse Beach before DrupalCon Munich and I had arranged to meet her to kind of say hello, she was in one of the pre-sprints, I think it was a Monday and she was doing some javascripts around responsive tables for Drupal 8, and I was sitting and watching as it was quite new to me and I didn’t really know that kind of thing. We ended up in an intense conversation between me, Jesse Beach and Angie Byron, who I didn’t really know back then. I was flatout in complete disagreement with Angie’s suggestion. We had a disagreement, but it was a very interesting conversation that has stuck in my mind, that I still talk about, because it was the first time I had put forth my opinion about something Drupal-related.


Piyush: What has your experience been like with the Drupal Community at DrupalCons?

Rachel: I started with volunteering the first couple of times and it was a good move. I got to meet people that way and then I started to get more involved in the sprints. I was helping out with the sprint lead and working as a sprint mentor. The combination of being a volunteer and a sprint mentor has taught me so much, I got to meet people who again are good friends today. DrupalCon is a great place for learning. Generally the Friday sprint day is what I get most value out of.


Piyush: How has DrupalCon helped grow your business?

Rachel: I am reasonably well known, various people know me and they come to me when they want work done. Is DrupalCon specifically a part of that, or is it part of a wider effort? I think DrupalCon is a tiny part of that.


Piyush: Why do you think is DrupalCon important for the Drupal Community?

Rachel: Thinking more about DrupalCon in the US, it makes money. Not so much in the EU. Drupal can not exist without cold, hard cash. No open source project can. This is necessary for people, infrastructure, servers. People giving money for tickets and sponsorship can then be used to do good things and help the community. Drupal.org costs us money to run. It is very expensive to maintain one of the world's big websites, it’s a big, big system, and without it Drupal doesn’t exist. We need to raise revenue and DrupalCon is one of our most successful ways of doing that. We should look at more ways of raising money, but DrupalCon is what we have at the moment, it’s what keeps us (the community) alive.


Piyush: What was your favorite food this DrupalCon?

Rachel: I can’t remember what it was but the best food was at DrupalCon Munich; the quality of the food was very good.


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Read the previous story about Marina’s experience.