When I was in my 20s I had two groups of friends: nerds and activist hippies. There was no crossover between the groups and I kept these two communities and parts of me separate like matter and antimatter (that’s the nerd talking!)
When I moved to Vancouver in 2007 my workplace sent me to the Web of Change conference (they noticed that their volunteer manager kept asking why the database was broken) where I first encountered the progressive nonprofit tech community. IT BLEW MY MIND!
It may not seem strange you, being worldly and reading this in 2013, but for me the idea that nerds and activists could co-exist or even be the same person had never crossed my mind. These communities had always been oil and water in my mind. Activists are anti-technology: that’s what I had learned (growing up on a commune.) 🙂
I discovered an entire new universe that week at Web of Change and it changed the course of my life irrevocably.
The friendly conference attendees scoffed at my naiveté and recommended that I start attending Vancouver’s Net Tuesday, which had recently been formed. I did. And I learned, while sitting quietly in the back.
But after a few months the organizer (Joe Solomon, who went on to 350.org and #GreenMemes) left town. The idea of the group folding was too tragic, so I volunteered to take it over. And four years later here I am!
But WHY did I decide to take on Net Tuesday Vancouver?
I wanted to find my tribe
I was in a new city and I didn’t know anybody. I discovered that being a NetSquared organizer turned me into a community hub – I quickly met all the key players in the sector, many of whom have become friends. It can be hard to find local nptech-ies without a Net2 group!
I can get really quiet in a group of people, unless I have a clearly defined role. Being the “host” of a meetup gives me an “in” to talk with people.
I like organizing events
I spent my 20s doing production on large outdoor festivals. I didn’t want my event skills to atrophy.
I wanted to learn more
I had learned at lot at the local meetup. The best way to learn more was to schedule more events! And this time I could guarantee that I’d be interested in the topic, because I was planning it. “Scratch your own itch” they always say. 🙂
I wanted to build a reputation
As I developed my career in nonprofit tech I quickly realized that being a Net2 organizer was doing wonders for my reputation. People (irrationally!) assumed that I was an expert on every topic I had a speaker present on! I started to receive job offers…
Net Tuesday fit with my values
Somewhere along the way life taught me that the more I gave the more I received. I enjoy serving others, and being a NetSquared organizer has been the most rewarding volunteer gig I’d ever taken on.
And that, in a giant nutshell, is why I become a Net2 organizer. 🙂