I've been part of the Python community since I jumped at the chance to join other Pythonistas at the first Python Ireland meetup back in late 2004. We were meeting up in pubs (of course, let's get that stereotypes of being Irish out of the way 😜), and that's where all the banter happens. Like for the Chinese (from my experience as an Irish born Chinese), sitting around a table full of yummy food is where all the socialising happens, be it at home, dim sum with friends and rellies, even booking a room for karaoke. The group realised that we wanted to share our new findings and exciting implementation of new tools and other shiney Python tech in a space that's not a pub setting, demoing something surrounded by people in a noisy pub is not ideal. So hence the suggestion of finding a room with projector and seats for Python talks. I was one of the people who jumped in to see how we can do this... and I ran with it for over 10 years until I stepped back in 2016.
I have learnt a lot in those years...
How amazing Python/PyCon UK folks are in answering all my questions when we wanted to run our first PyCon Ireland in 2010 (bear in mind that the largest attendance in our meetups was around 20(ish) but mostly in the lower teens). It was a risk with no exposure to running events like a conference, handling large sponsorships, programming, etc.
Community are very helpful, but you still feel on your own on the months leading up to the conference, so having my husband and a few friends as support were very important.
Burnout is a real thing, people expected me to do everything (because I do... as no-one did anything as everyone was busy, and every meeting is the same thing).
I felt deflated.
You get criticised and pointed out and that same person didn't really help that much besides making me feel bad instead of suggesting alternative ways to make things better (or even help me as looking back, I was struggling and should have asked for help).
Listen to friends and family when they do an intervention, this happened to me a fair few times.
At the time I didn't admit I needed the help... see above re. burnout. It hurts you, as someone who leads, it hurts everyone on that team and those at home.
So I'm repeating myself here... Burnout is a real thing! Look after yourself. It's ok to show that you are vulnerable, after all, we are all volunteers and want the best for our community with the best of our abilities.
Learnt a lot about admin'ing behind the scenes, financials, working with corporates, handling customers (our attendees), sponsorships, other logistics. They can be small to ultimate franticness. But skills nonetheless, no-one likes it, especially all the paperwork, but it has to be done. Plus I like organising things, so it might seem a mess at first, but when everything is in its place and (omgerd office stationary) folders, I'm very content. These are definitely life skills, especially if you are setting up a company in Ireland.
NOTE: There's ups and downs in being part of any community, you learn to grow from all these experiences, so I'm not painting only a shiney version of it. There will be some ugliness along the way, but the gains of new friendship, camaraderie, organisational experience, life-long skills and connections... it's all worth it!
I really hate talking about myself, but having put myself out there, I want to show that anyone can also do the same and while outcomes of what you get can be different from person to person.
I ended working part-time at various odd funky roles like connecting the community for a newly launched space by Dogpatch Labs, or researcher for a game exhibition for Science Gallery Dublin, or bring meetup groups together for the mother of meetups event that was 404, or Maker advocate for Dublin Maker to my current job as community lead (aka resident tech mystic 🦄, it's in my Linkedin profile 😉) at an early stage startup called Yard. These opportunities came at me out of the blue, that's what I meant, opportunities will be different for everyone.
I doubt even AI can predict what's going to be next for me. 🤣 Hark back to me figuring out what I wanted to pick on my CAO** form back in secondary school donkeys ago, my career guidance teacher definitely wouldn't have guessed what I'm doing right now! 😆
- **For those who don't know, CAO is where 17/18 year olds submit their choices of courses to pursue after they finish secondary school. They have to complete Leaving Certificate exams to gain points, and wait months to see if they got into their course of choice.
- BTW, the first round offers for CAO applicants are out earlier today, best of luck to everyone. It's digital nowadays, but still the wait is terrifying. It's a pretty big deal in Ireland, for anyone curious, here's a live blog about it
For those moments when you think no-one sees you (aside from your partner and close friends who always worry about you), surprises pop up and you realise that what you have been doing is not down a rabbit hole or wrong track. You are helping people, you are encouraging people to go and give that talk, or help out the community (either themselves, get their work to chip in), you are changing peoples' lives, just like it changed mine.
After much dismay on this honour and discussion with my husband, I accepted it proudly.
BTW, if I have the funds, I try and pay for Python Software Foundation membership anyway, even though I don't have to, why, because this community is amazing. ❤️
The more recent one is I was asked to accept PSF's Community Service Award!
This was a big one for me. After so many years, there's countless other amazing people around the world who do so, so much, and I was nominated. These were the role models I looked up to and never once did I think that I would receive this award.
The Q3 2021 Community Service Award was given to Vicky Twomey-Lee. Vicky has been a PSF Fellow since 2012 and a long time volunteer to several PSF and Python spaces. 7 years ago she founded and continues to help organize the PyLadies Dublin chapter. Additionally, Vicky has been an active contributor to the PSF's Grants WG since the beginning and continues to provide helpful feedback and reviews. She also helps with EuroPython, Python Ireland, and past PyCon Ireland events.
THAT is what I want others to feel when you are unexpectedly recognised by your peers in your community! You did something right!
I know it can be better, finding ways to support one another, resolving conflict, we are all learning after all. The world, the community, everything is changing so fast.
Here's to all the amazing people in various communities around the world. If you know someone that is doing amazing things, shout out about them. If there's a community recognition, put them forward. As an introvert, it's a lonely road, even when you are surrounded by people, keep those who supported you close, and don't be afraid of new ideas and take risks.
I'm a bit of an old hat now, so def up for any ideas to spruce up how I do meetup events (PyLadies Dublin, Women Who Code Dublin, GameCraft). Although I'm supping up my streaming setup for virtual events, I'm terrible at creating digital content for my various communities - reels, stories, shorts, etc.