When the opportunity presented itself for me to speak at Joomla!Day Greece on May 28-29, 2011, I hopped at the chance to be there. Having kicked-off two Joomla!Days in the US myself back in 2007, I know how much preparation and anxiety can rest on the shoulders of organizers for these inaugural events. How many people will show up? Will the projectors work? Can the wifi keep up with the demand? Will anyone be able to understand our keynote speaker's crazy warm-up exercise?
The organizing team for Joomla!Day Greece 2011, lead by Fotis Evangelou, created an awesome event, attracting more than 600 attendees whom strolled through the doors of the Danaos theatre in Athens. With comfortable seating, a terrific sound system, and massive high-definition screens, the event was off to a good start before the speakers even came to the stage.
Speakers arrived from across Europe to share knowledge about a variety of tools and practical lessons learned, from introductions on Joomla to search engine optimization. With the evening's activities keeping many of us up late at night, Fotis asked me to start of each day with a little exercise: a rendition of the "Joomla! Rocks!" cheer. If anything, at least I was wide awake for my keynote after our exercise.
Aside from the excitement to see such a huge turnout for an inaugural event, two key things impressed me about this Joomla!Day.
1) Fotis and his team showed us that with a combination of passion and energy, a Joomla!Day in a new locale can be a success even with less than two months preparation and with only a handful of people working together. This isn't to say it didn't take quite a bit of time to make bring this event together, but it can be done with just a small group of passionate folks.
2) Communities that haven't already hosted a Joomla!Day can be pleasantly surprised to discover a big turnout from their community for their first event, enabling the event to be a catalyst for community growth in the future. It was great to see at least 20 hands raised when the attendees were asked "who wants to help put together next year's event?" Even better, it seems like this event could kick-off more in-person meetings for community groups in the region.
I'd like to extend my many thanks to Fotis and his team for their kind hospitality and terrific effort, to my fellow speakers who donated their time and energy to spread Joomla knowledge, and to the Greek Joomla community that showed the world that they have strong Joomla pride.
Ευχαριστούμε Joomla!Day Greece! See you in 2012!