A few weeks ago I got to attend and speak at Heart of Clojure. I met lots of online friends in person for the first time, and made some new ones too. I’ve thought a lot about how to describe it since then, and every time I come back to the word special.
Others have also posted their thoughts on Heart of Clojure: Fork This Conference, The people’s conference, The hallway track conference, Community with lots of heart, and A courageous conference?.
Here were some things that I think made Heart of Clojure so special. If you’re running a conference, consider stealing some of these ideas.
- There was an site which listed activities around the event. Anyone could host an activity and others could join. Having it on a website meant everyone knew what was happening around the conference. I felt like this helped Heart of Clojure feel very welcoming to all of the conference goers, especially those who were less outgoing.
- One of the nights I joined an activity for an adventurous dinner. People got split into groups of 6-8 with a reservation at a restaraunt in Leuven. This broke up friend groups and introduced me to a bunch of new people. The restaurant we went to had their own brewery, and I got to try the flavours of a beer soup, beer stew, and beer crème brûlée!
- Yulia Startsev’s talk To loosen up, to put together set the tone for the conference and captured the spirit of mixing technology and the humanities. Many of the talks and conversations referenced her talk throughout the rest of the event.
- Leuven was a perfect town to have the conference. It was large enough to have a good nightlife, but small enough that you could walk between the conference venue, the bars, restauruants, and hotels in 10-15 minutes.
- In the months before the conference, Jan Stępień paired up new speakers with more experienced speakers. This was my first conference talk, and I got paired up with Tiago Luchini. Tiago was a very experienced public speaker and gave me great feedback on my talk. Having to show someone my presentation helped me get it into shape well before the conference. I think Jan’s work here contributed to the high quality of the talks at the conference.
- I’m not a vegeterian, but I really appreciated that all of the breakfast and lunches were vegeterian. I can imagine it would have made things very easy for vegeterians. The food was delicious and healthy tasting.
- There was ample time left around the talks so that you didn’t need to choose between the ‘hallway track’ and the conference track. On the Saturday there was a siesta break between 12pm and 4pm. You could do one of the activities, take a nap, or just chat with others. I was a bit skeptical before the conference that this was going to be too long, but it worked out really well.
- The lightning talks on Saturday broke up the afternoon and left space for serendipity to strike. Connie’s talk on waffles, Vim, and building her own language captured the audience.
- On the Saturday evening after the conference ended, lots of people stayed behind to help pack down the auditorium. This made the job much easier.
- There was a large contingent of people from Berlin, and they were all incredible. Berlin feels like it has a really vibrant community, one day I’d like to visit it.
Heart of Clojure was a very special event. I can’t imagine how much work it was for Arne Brasseur, Martin Klepsch, and all of the other helpers before, during, and after the event but it paid off. Heart of Clojure felt like a very polished event, not something being put on for the first time. Thanks to everyone who organised, helped out, spoke, sponsored, and attended the conference. I hope there is another Heart of Clojure in the future, if you get a chance to go, I highly recommend it.