With three AdaCamps in 2014 and four planned in 2015, the Ada Initiative staff can no longer run them all ourselves! Part of our mission is sustainable work practices, which unfortunately sometimes means not always being able to travel. So, for AdaCamp Berlin and Bangalore we’re bringing in one of our most experienced AdaCamp alumni, Alex “Skud” Bayley, to run AdaCamp on the ground, with the assistance of Nóirín Plunkett in Berlin and Suki McCoy in Bangalore.
Alex has been part of AdaCamp right from the start: she secured our Melbourne venue for us, drafted the application process we use to this day and gave us the benefit of her vast experience in running events in open technology and culture. She also joined us as an AdaCamp Portland attendee. Alex is an experienced open technology and culture developer and community leader; she uses open source software and related technologies to effect social and environmental change. She has worked in Australia, the US, and Canada. After leaving San Francisco in 2011, where she had worked as a technical community director for the open data project Freebase, she returned to Australia and started Growstuff, combining her personal interest and experience in veggie gardening and open data. She lives in Ballarat, Victoria, where she works on a variety of open tech projects for social justice and sustainability.
To help you get to know Alex before AdaCamp, we interviewed her about AdaCamps past and present, and the many other projects she’s working on right now.
What’s your history as an event leader? What were your favourite moments at events you’ve run in the past?
Alex: I’ve been organising events for mostly Internet-based communities for about 20 years now. I’ve always loved the opportunity to meet people face to face who I originally knew online. Some examples include the Melbourne Perl Mongers (a technical meetup group that I founded in 1998), and the Wiscon Vid Party (a fan-made video show held annually at Wiscon, a feminist science fiction convention). I also helped organise the first AdaCamp in Melbourne in 2012.
My favourite moments? I’d have to say I love the moment when an attendee realises that this event is different, that it’s something special. We all go to so many events that are formulaic, whether it’s a tech meetup with the same speakers and pizza as all the other tech meetups, or conventions with the same sorts of panels and vendor exhibits you see everywhere else. We think we know what to expect. So when someone comes to event and you see their eyes widen and they say “Oh! This is different!”, and they realise that an event can make them feel joy or inspiration or belonging, that’s what I really love to see.
What did you enjoy about AdaCamp Melbourne and AdaCamp Portland?
At AdaCamp Melbourne, I really loved the venue — an environmental park in Melbourne’s suburbs, with a meeting space built from green materials and using passive solar technologies. It meant we had heaps of natural light and fresh air, and the area around us was full of greenery, a farmer’s market, and even livestock. It was lovely to be able to feel the sun on your face at lunchtime, and a nice change from meeting in a more traditional convention space. AdaCamp always has a special feel to it because we work hard to make the space welcoming and accessible, but herb gardens right outside the meeting room door and chickens pecking around nearby were really something different :)
In Portland, I was just outright inspired by all the women I met, the amazing projects they’re working on, and how smart and passionate and welcoming everyone was. I made some great friends that weekend, and came home with a new commitment to expanding my own skills and using them to make the world a better place. I think AdaCamp gives us a safe space to open up to ideas, and to listen and talk without having to be on our guard against stereotypes, sexist comments, or unwelcome attention, and that’s what makes it so easy to fully engage and get the most out of the event.
What are you looking forward to most about AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore?
I am so excited to meet women from Europe, South Asia, and other areas who are as passionate as I am about both open tech/culture and feminism. Past AdaCamps have helped us form a network of feminists in the open tech/culture field, and this network is now spreading more widely, giving us connections to other points of view and other experiences. This will strengthen our understanding of the issues we face and give us new insights into how we can face them together. I’m especially pleased that each AdaCamp has women attending from further away, so that there’s more chance for our ideas to cross-pollinate, rather than being siloed in each region.
What else are you working on right now? Any plans for your visit to Germany and to India?
I’m working on Growstuff, an open data project around food and sustainable agriculture, so I’m going to be meeting with a lot of people and talking about that through my travels. If you’re interested in those areas, or if you’re looking for a welcoming open source project to get involved in or a chance to learn Ruby on Rails, please get in touch and let’s meet! I’m also visiting the UK and will be running a coding event in London the weekend after AdaCamp.
Apart from that, as usual I have about a dozen other projects on the go! I’m making block prints of Grace Hopper, doing software development and tech work for community gardens and appropriate technology, and working with my local library to build up their collection of books by and about same-sex attracted and gender diverse people. I’m looking forward to the long flights to Europe and India as a chance to do nothing for a change :)
AdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture: open source software, Wikipedia-related projects, open data, open geo, library technology, fan fiction, remix culture, and more. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, share skills, discuss problems with open tech/culture communities that affect women, and find ways to address them.
AdaCamps are not supported solely by our sponsors: gifts from you, our generous donors, make up a large part of AdaCamp’s budget. Support women in open technology and culture and their leading event! Please contribute to more AdaCamps in 2015 by giving to our annual fundraising drive today!
Your organization has the opportunity to sponsor AdaCamps in 2014 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture on three continents. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about becoming a sponsor.
Thank you to the AdaCamp 2014 platinum sponsors Google and Puppet Labs; gold sponsors Automattic, Mozilla, Red Hat and Wikimedia Foundation; and silver sponsors New Relic, Simple and Wikimedia Deutschland.