Day 23: Day 2 of DrupalCon
I have a big jumbled bubbling stew of ideas related to visibility, outreach, community and belonging all bouncing around my head right now.
The day started out with a keynote that blew my mind for a couple reasons: 1) it was great and 2) she talked about periods, as in menstrual cycles, for a good 15 minutes.
I go to a lot of women in business type events and people will talk about Lady Things because Ladies are There, so It's Okay. Never in my LIFE have I heard a non-sex ed teacher address a group that was predominantly male as if they fundamentally understand and sympathize with periods. That experience alone was worth the price of admission.
(I have plenty of thoughts about the content of her talk and some questions about losing humor/fun as a tool, but for now let's stay in this bubbly stew).
I felt really seen. I felt like the DrupalCon planning committee wasn't afraid to hire someone who reflected my reality, even though I'm a minority at the conference. I felt like they personally considered me, Tara King, in their keynote speaker selection process.
Yesterday I mentioned feeling seen during the Driesnote when he talked about the way D8 was going to make things easier for content editors–because that kind of stuff is a really big deal for a business building small sites. Pfizer has the money to build all that customization themselves. I'm the one who is benefitting from all these out-of-the-box improvements.
I went to the tail-end of the talk on diversity in Drupal and heard a lot of smart, intersectional voices from all sides of the race and gender divides talking about how we can fix the equity problem in tech. Hearing someone say they prefer to call female candidates in for an interview because women tend to undersell their abilities? It was a revelation. Maybe people are starting to get it.
I went to the mentoring orientation where I got to see some really great behaviors demonstrated around building relationships and community and making people feel welcome. It was powerful to see how intentionally and compassionately the mentoring team approaches their job. They know how hard it is to sprint for the first time and they want to bring everyone into the fold. They want to make it as easy as possible to build a long-term relationship with Drupal and with Drupal's methodology. They (we!) actively affirm newcomers. They give you all the tools to find out what you need. They help you find out what you need. They encourage you to take care of yourself and to not try to do it all. It was one of the most fair and egalitarian experiences I've ever had.
They know that everyone can contribute, no matter their background or their skills or their interests, and they are working hard to prove there is room at the table for us all. They also acknowledge the infinite reasons people may not feel welcome. They acknowledge their own human fallibility, and yours. They accept and encourage mistakes, because mistakes only happen when you participate. Mistakes mean you took action. When someone had a question or different perspective, it was quickly and seamlessly heard and acted on. I felt both empowered and empowering–what more is there? Today I felt like I was valuable because I showed up, and I felt like my questions and concerns were valuable because I shared them.
There's a second half to this post, which I don't quite feel comfortable sharing. Partly that's because it's unfinished and I need to go to bed. For all that I feel seen at DrupalCon, I also feel lost. Adrift in a sea of people who are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike me. I'm on the edge of this community. Sometimes I feel invisible. I feel like I'm at the party but for me alone, it's a cash bar. There's some barrier that I can't seem to sweep away, and sorting that out will just have to wait for another day.