Just got back from our 2nd East Bay CFUG meeting at our new location (New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Pleasanton, CA), and couldn’t be happier with the way the meeting went.
My goal with the group is to break away from what I’ve seen to be the traditional model of people showing up, a speaker speaks for an hour or so (while most people are texting or surfing on their laptops), swag is given out, and everybody goes home.
What I’m shooting for is to engage the audience. To hold interactive, collaborative meetings. Some might be small code challenges where everybody takes a few minutes to solve a particular problem, then shares their solution with the group. Others might be an open discussion on a given topic. Yet others might be hands-on labs to teach a particular technology.
In an earlier post I had mentioned that I was in the process of starting up an East Bay CFUG. It’s no secret that Bay Area traffic sucks hard and for those people living in areas like San Ramon (that’d be me), Livermore, Dublin, etc, the drive into San Francisco after putting in a full day at the office isn’t a terribly appealing notion. I’ve thrown out the idea of starting a CFUG in the East Bay and it’s been met with some pretty positive feedback. sweet.
Here’s the fun part… finding a location. I remember going through this with the IECFUG. Trying to find a location that will accommodate enough people, has internet access and a projector, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is a challenging endeavor. I’ve contacted a few schools in the area. Either they hold classes at night and don’t offer rooms to external groups, or they want $50/hr per meeting or they require the group to have a non-profit tax ID number (which as far as I understand would entail filing paperwork and filing taxes each year… then the hassle of transferring ownership as management changes… hoping to not have to resort to that). The business park that my company is in has a facility, but they charge over $300 (and no tenant discount).
While I continue to scout out a location on my own, I figured I’d put this out there publicly. Does anyone in the East Bay know of a potential meeting site? Would anyone’s business be willing to “sponsor” the group by way of allowing a monthly meeting?
Any thoughts and/or suggestions are appreciated
This is a topic i’ve been thinking about for a while now. Nolan Erck just posted something to the South of Shasta blog that prompted me to flesh out my thoughts a bit.
What can user groups do to promote regular attendance?
My first user group was the Phoenix CFUG back in 2002 or thereabouts. It was (and presumably still is) an awesome group to be a part of. Decent attendance on a regular basis, and a real sense of “community”. After the meetings, most of the attendees would go out for a drink or three and talk about ColdFusion. What they were working on, or what obstacles/issues they were currently dealing with. It was a blast. I always enjoyed stepping out of “my” ColdFusion world and hearing about what others were doing.
I left Phoenix at the end of 2004, and have had the opportunity to be a part of a few other groups. One thing that i noticed is that after the meeting… people bolted. There was no discussion, no sense of camaraderie… just a few folks showing up, listening to the speaker, then heading home.