On a drizzly October morning in SoMA San Francisco, I pulled up to one of the many renovated industrial buildings and was cheerfully greeted by Susan of Engine Yard. With Jill, a friend of mine/local preschool teacher in tow as chief kid-wrangler, we started about setting up the spacious, sunlit-filled floor that would host our technical outreach event.
The night before we had met with over 20 other enthusiastic volunteers to help a little over 30 women (and companions) set up their computers to learn the Ruby on Rails framework. Software developers, system administrators, UI designers, engineers, and other workshop faithfuls helped participants install and learn the fundamentals needed to use Rails for web application development. The participants came from all types of career backgrounds; at least one was an attorney, several were UI designers, IT staff members came, marketing professionals and others were there to learn. Myself and my co-organizer, Curtis, a regular supporter of these events, led a kick-off presentation that received with excitement and humor; then we were off into small groups for helping participants build their first basic application.
In a very healthy showing, we had enough volunteers teacher and assistants to instruct small groups of three- to four- participants with plenty of personalized support. By lunchtime were were all relieved to find delicious, ample box lunches from a local Mediterranean restaurant and provided by our generous hosts at Engine Yard. Shortly afterward kids that participants and volunteers had brought were well entertained; indeed the one baby was fast asleep in Jill’s adept arms.
By the end of the workshop, participants as well as volunteers were approaching Curtis and myself and thanking us for such a rewarding experience. I joined my family and headed out into the drizzle for good eats with a feeling of great satisfaction knowing how much the workshop was valued by all.