I didn’t really understand it until I attended DrupalCon Vienna in 2017. To me, Drupal was a flexible open source framework that served as the foundation for some of the world’s largest websites. It was for developers to build stuff. I knew that the community that supports Drupal was important to keep it going but I didn’t know until I was in the middle of that community how much Drupal changed people’s lives.
Not only has Drupal given countless individuals a career and a place to belong, Drupal has literally brought people together. People have met best friends, mentors, business partners, and significant others from attending events and sprints, working on projects, etc. I remember that the first time I met Shannon Vettes was at DrupalCon, even though we worked for the same company and we hit it off talking through her presentation the next day. Now she’s more than a colleague, she’s my friend and I hope to visit her in Paris someday.
I put the word out that I was looking for stories and the community did not disappoint:
“There was a wedding at DrupalCon Chicago!” - George DeMet, Founder and CEO of Palantir and @gdemet on Twitter
“I met my school friend after 10 years in a Drupal meet up. Gotta love it.” - @iamBalaji23 on Twitter
“I reconnected with two different peers from high school and college. We had similar Japanese studying experience. Then ran into each other at DrupalCons and had even further connections with more folks in the community.” - @mattkineme on Twitter
Here are few stories of how Drupal brought people together.
Phenaproxima and starshaped
I met Adam Honeich (phenaproxima) at work, since we both work at Acquia. Now that I think about it, the first time I met Aubrey Sambor (starshaped) was at DrupalCon Vienna too! As I was trying to think of what to write for a Valentine’s day type blog post, her story helped inspire me.
Adam met Aubrey in 2017 at Drupal sprint held over the weekend in Cambridge, MA. “They do this sprint annually, every January — it’s international (more or less), said Adam. Usually the bulk of the work is done on Saturday but it’s what it sounds like… Drupalists mingle and hack on Drupal things then everyone goes out for beer.”
Aubrey had been doing Drupal for about 8 years and wanted to learn more about contributing to open source. “I had just moved back to New England the previous year and wanted to get to know the Boston community. I didn’t actually talk to Adam at all during the sprint itself, but at the afterparty, we talked a little bit about front end development in Drupal. I wanted to talk to him more at the afterparty, but when everyone in the group we were talking to left, he bailed! He told me later that he felt awkward, but I just laugh about that now.
Adam has a similar recount of the night. “As she [Aubrey] will only too happily tell you, she tried to talk to me afterwards but I ran off ’cause I’m awkward.”
Luckily for Adam, Aubrey asked him out after a Drupal meetup a few months later and they’ve been together ever since.
rszrama and bojanz
Making friends as an adult can be tough for some people, myself included. But the friends you make as adult can feel more like family. Having a welcoming community like Drupal makes it that much easier to meet those people and form lifelong friendships.
When I asked Ryan Szrama (rszrama), CEO and President of The Commerce Guys and At-Large Director on the board of the Drupal Association about Drupal connections he’s made over the years, he remarked there have been numerous; “...folks we vacation with, make it a point to visit when nearby, etc. And like a hundred people who have helped me in small and large ways through the years.” But one of the connections that stood out most for Ryan was meeting Bojan Živanović (bojanz).
Ryan actually wrote his own blog post on his friendship, titled When Drupal friends become family. From his own post, here is how he met Bojan:
“In 2010 that included serving as a mentor in the Google Summer of Code program for a new contributor who wanted to work on Drupal Commerce’s affiliate module, bojanz.
Bojan Živanović and I got to know each other that summer through many IRC chats and coding sessions. After he completed his project successfully, we met at DrupalCon Copenhagen and celebrated at McDonald's. I sure knew how to treat a friend!”
Ryan quickly accomplished his goal of convincing Bojan to join Commerce Guys and both their friendship and contributions to Drupal have continued to grow since then. “I visit Belgrade once a year now; not strictly necessary for the business but just seemed like a great way to cement / grow the relationship. His mom always cooks a dinner for us when we arrive; have an ever expanding group of friends in and around Belgrade. It's been great.”
schnitzel and ruthief
Michael Schmid (schnitzel) is the CTO @amazeeio & @amazee. He shared the story of how he met Ruth Fuller (ruthief). It kind of sounds like something out an indie romance flick: two people meet and continue connect through various Drupal events, zigzagging across the globe until finally finding themselves in the same place.
“We met the first time in DrupalCon Portland 2013 (where Ruth lived at the time) and then again in DrupalCon Prague 2013. After DrupalCon Prague, she did some tourist and sightseeing in Europe, where she visited me in Zurich (where I lived at the time). By then, we were already very close. So I visited her in Portland after going to BadCamp 2013 in San Francisco. Where we fully got together and started a long distance relationship between Portland US and Zurich Switzerland.
In April 2016 we then moved together to Austin TX (where my company already had a company running) and have been together ever since.”
I know there are many more stories to tell about how Drupal was the catalyst for bringing people together and I’ll be back, in one form or another, to tell them. Until then, be good to each other, and Happy Valentine’s Day.