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Hey Baltimore JavaScripters, what's up?

Posted by Jason Rhodes on March 13th, 2015

We're currently planning our fourth NodeSchool event here in Baltimore. And when I say "we", I mean I. I'm doing it. It turns out that delegation and community organization are hard work. Who knew? (I knew, but still.)

Chris Stone knew, too…

Delegation is hard. I was nervous to give work to people I hadn't really met or talked to much, and I didn't respond quickly to those I knew well. Others didn't offer at all, and I didn't find the time to ask directly.

Volunteering is hard, too. Trying to coordinate volunteer energy and direct it into an effective stream of output is really complicated and exhausting, so much so that I bailed before I ever really got the hang of it.

Not to mention this:

I can mentor at an event, when is it?

is a lot different than

I want to help organize this community, how can I help?

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for those who have turned up to mentor because we couldn't have done the events we've done so far without them. But Baltimore NodeSchool itself isn't growing because the leadership is stagnant, and will eventually burn out.

Seriously, thanks to every mentor who's given up 4+ hours on a weekend to help me teach people JavaScript. You all are the best.

Community-building is hard.

Something else I've realized in the past year of NodeSchool planning is how dead the JavaScript community is in Baltimore (and especially how non-existent the Node.js community is). There are agencies using front-end JS but if you look for companies using Node.js regularly, they're really hard to find.

It's no coincidence that the two most active JS events in the area are run by current or former Message Systems employees--they're one of the few companies in the area that's adopted a JS stack (or at least who've done so and shown an interest in the community).

Maryland JavaScript and Baltimore NodeSchool—are there others I don't know about?

But things aren't totally dead--there's plenty of demand for JavaScript content in a more general sense. Many of the people I see at NodeSchool events are there because they want to learn JavaScript, which is a somewhat interesting problem I'm trying to solve by offering the "Javascripting" workshop at the next event. And when a few of us scraped together a JavaScript meetup a few months ago, it was very well attended, not to mention the 50-80 attendees that used to come when that group met regularly a few years ago.

I'm not sure what the next steps are. I was looking into what it takes to create a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization just for NodeSchool this week, so that I can more easily handle cash flow from sponsors and determine how to give away unused sponsor money to a local tech-related charity (H/T Jed and BrooklynJS). But while clicking through paperwork on LegalZoom, I thought, "Maybe it's time to branch out and change the focus of 'NodeSchool' just a bit?" Like I said, I'm not sure.

What I do know is that I finally made it to a BrooklynJS meetup last month and I was blown away. It's New York, of course, so it's not a totally fair comparison, but the energy in the room and the thought that Jed and Brian have put into the structure and flow of the event was so inspiring, it filled my head with ideas about what kinds of creativity we could apply to the community here in Baltimore. Not just shoving BrooklynJS into Baltimore but figuring out what kind of energy and structure would work here, for us.

Seriously (again), get to a Brooklyn JS if you can.

Like I said. Not sure.

tl;dr If you're intrigued by Baltimore JavaScript community/education stuff or just interested in what the JavaScript community might look like here, or interested in talking more about it, get in touch with me. Leave a comment below or find me on the twitters as @rhodesjason or by email at jason.matthew.rhodes@gmail.com ...

I'd love to hear what people think -- if they think anything at all.

Warning: Comments ahead. Never read them.