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Things I learned working BarCamp Nashville ’11 Crew

Dear Reader,

It’s hard to believe that almost a month has passed since BarCamp Nashville ’11. (BCN) It has taken me a while to write this post though because I wanted to do a lot of soul searching before I wrote it. When I volunteered to be the Speaker butler for BCN11, I told everyone there that I did not like the way BCN was run and I was there to change things. Ok, it may have not been the greatest way to start things off but I wanted to be honest.

The next two months were wonderfully frustrating for me. Along the way – in addition to making some new friends – I learned a few things about BarCamps, BCN and most of all, myself.

Here are three of the things I learned. I’m writing them more so I won’t forget than any other reason.

First, do the work

I have already said I started off on the wrong foot by telling everyone they were wrong, even though I had never done the job. (It’s a gift of mine, seeing the faults on other’s processes.) I had not bothered to learn why things were as they were; I just knew they were wrong. To paraphrase my friend Matthew Turland, I should have just “Shut the f** up and sat the f*** down”. I had no idea why the rules were setup the way they were and to be fair to the people that created them, I should have at least worked a full camp before coming to a conclusion.

Sometimes, you’ve got to call bullshit

Even though this was my first camp, I know bullshit when I see it. Just because I am new, doesn’t mean I don’t know. I am proud to say that a couple of time, I did stand up (figuratively of course. the chairs at Anode were way too comfortable to do it literally) and denounce an idea when I thought it was wrong. It doesn’t matter if no one else agreed with me, if I felt it was heading in the wrong direction, it was my place – no, my duty as a volunteer – to say so.

When you have a problem, talk to the person, not the list

A lot of conversations about BCN took place out in the open and a lot of feelings were needlessly hurt. Honestly, I don’t know why other than it’s easier to fire off a blog post or tweet than it is to confront someone in person or in a private email. I had a situation arise where I felt something had gone terribly wrong. I could have easily blogged it or even fired off an email to the crew mailing list, blasting the person who I felt wronged me. However, this person had always treated me with respect, even when we were in disagreement. So I simply emailed them. The email wasn’t particularly polite, but it wasn’t rude either. I am happy to say that in the end, we both came to an understanding of the other’s point of view. No flames, no bridges burned, and because this person was gracious and thoughtful in their responses to me, I feel I have a new friend where I could have easily made an enemy. (and I hope they feel the same)


I joined the BCN crew to change things from within. I was tired of watching people bitch and moan from the outside. I did not affect the changes I wanted, but that’s ok; I am also not going anywhere. unless they boot me, I’ll be on the next *CN crew and continue for the foreseeable future. I will continue to work to change the things that I see that are wrong, not because I want to tear down *CN but because I believe in what if can be, and want to be a part of it reaching its full potential.

The take away here is I got involved. So, what’s your excuse for not getting involved? :)

Until next time,
I <3 |<

2 thoughts on “Things I learned working BarCamp Nashville ’11 Crew

  1. Well said Cal. I think you and I feel feel the same on many points and joined for the same reasons. I’m personally excited to see where the *CNs go and plan to support in some form or fashion. At least to pitch session and show up.

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