We believe that our most valuable resource is our community. It is not the working space or the technology or the ideas that we believe will change the world. It is the people behind those ideas, the creators of the technology and those that manage our spaces. The TechVillage community is a “living repository” of knowledge. If you have a question or want to learn something, all you have to do is ask! However, like any resource, the community has to be constantly cultivated and the knowledge base has to continue to grow and diversify. This is the reason why we decided to host the first ever WordPress Bulawayo MeetUp. #WordPressByo!
What is WordPress?
According to the wordpress.org site,* “WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.” This very blog is powered by WordPress. It is said that WordPress powers over 29% of the internet and as a content management system it is used to develop and deploy websites, run blogs and online publications. We believe that it is one of the easiest tools that anyone can use to put up a basic website and start telling the world their story, most people who attended the WordPress MeetUp had taught themselves all that they know about this powerful tool.
Why host a meetup?
So why host a meetup? It is simple really (queue the hero-rising-from-the-darkness music.) At a time when the world is plagued by fake news and misinformation, a group of young self-taught heroes must rise and use their knowledge and skills for good. To give a voice to the voiceless, and tell the stories of those who have come before us, so that those who follow will know, for they must know. It is time to take back our narrative! Feelings of world domination and having superpowers aside, our goal in hosting these meetups is to create a space where people can come together and spend 2 hours learning, sharing and empowering others to leverage on this technology for good. Its sort of like a bring and share but of knowledge – over free coffee! Our first MeetUp was on Friday the 5th of January, and we will continue hosting these meetups on the first Friday of each Month. You can get the actual dates on our page and reserve your free ticket here.
The Bulawayo WordPress Community
The Community is really open to anyone, there are no prerequisites, no application forms to fill, no membership payments, no catch…nothing. It truly is free and open for anyone to attend. We simply want people to come through and learn, share and do. Which is why even at the very first meetup, we had open presentations from Michael Dera of The Devshop and Ezra Makaza of GoDigital. Anyone in the community is free to share and free to host smaller WordPress centric events that range from workshops and training to social get-togethers and tutorial viewing parties. While we do not encourage outright marketing ( this is not one of those buy and sell platforms,) community members are allowed to provide resources that the community might benefit from, pretty cool examples are discounted hosting, domain names, consultancy, training and such. It truly is about community and working together to educate, evangelise and empower.
So… the Blue dots vs Green Dots
Our last meetup was amazing! We tried to stay away from the usual one person in front “lecturing” everyone else boring structure. Instead, we started off by asking people to pick a colour based on their level of proficiency “WordPress wise.” Blue being for the pros and Green for first timers, noobs and newbies. The rules of engagement were simple, any Green dot was allowed to interject and ask for clarity at any time, and any blue dot could “constructively contribute to and edify” the presentation. This led to what I can only call “frustrating fun.” A good number of our Blue dot people quietly removed their dots and became stateless #traitors! while our Green dots got even more confident in their asking questions. Finding it hard to believe? here is an account from one of the blue dots -> How it really went down: A blue dot’s perspective.
Our Presenters ditched the usual powerpoint slides and got their hands dirty. Both Ezra and Michael used their own sites to help everyone understand, Ezra led with the basics of the WordPress dashboard, followed by Michael who went into the basics of Search Engine Optimisation. The first meetup ended with some feedback from the rest of the community. What was most exciting was that a good number of our attendees wanted to learn and discuss much more than the technical issues around WordPress. Based on that feedback, our next meetups are going to touch on content creation and distribution and the ethics around content and using WordPress, over and above the technical bits. Some community members pledged to organise introductory workshops for WordPress ( for beginners) and intermediate level workshops for developers on how to develop and maintain our own plugins, themes and tools. These workshops will be hosted outside the monthly meetups ( dates to be announced soon, do check our social media) and open to anyone in the community. It was truly a learning crash course for everyone, green dots learning the basics of WordPress, and blue dots learning how to explain tech concepts using basic English. At the end of the day, however, it was great to see that whether green or blue, that we all are dots who love this technology and are excited by what we can achieve through it, together.
What is next?
We are already preparing for our next meetup in February and are working with some of our community members in organising those free workshops. We are also going to be communicating with the entire community over 4 different platforms, these being, Whatsapp, Email, Slack and through TechVillage’s Social network called Connect. If you are interested in joining the Bulawayo WordPress community, please do get in touch on +263731222222 or send an email via firstname.lastname@example.org. We would like to thank all the volunteers who worked tirelessly in making this happen. WordPress MeetUps are volunteer-powered and no one is paid to put in the work in organizing meetups and such. Lastly, we would like to thank the TechVillage team for all their work and for serving everyone coffee! You can learn more about the team here.
To read more on what WordPress is follow this link
Check out our other blog post on the WordPress Bulawayo Meetup here
Interested in joining the TechVillage? you can sign up here. Joining the TechVillage community is free!