WineCamp planning report

At the WineCamp planning session

A number of us met up last night to discuss our plans for WineCamp. With less than 60 days to go, we haven’t got much time to get everything in place. But we have a crack-team of folks who are dedicated to making this a reality.

Let me say something about what I’m hoping to see result from this event: connections. It’s not everyday that you get geeks and technologists rounded up in some foreign land with non-profits and NGO-types. It’s designed that way on purpose. Hey, get people out of their natural surroundings — remove the wifi, the laptops, the power (yes, really) — and some interesting interactions are sure to emerge. Especially when you’ve got a good dose of mountain air and an supple supply of wine flowing.
And those connections? Hopefully lasting ones. Hopefully collaboration will spring up. Ideally a few sustaining solutions will be thunk up.

So last night we spec’d out the schedule for the event, what we need to make it happen, how much we’re going to charge for the event (free isn’t really an option if we’re providing food so we’re a small fee for the weekend) and what else need to be done.

And there’s lots.

But listen, here’s the thing so you understand where this is coming from. The goal of the weekend is to start conversations. To bring together folks from two fields who desparately need each other (open source and non-profits) but haven’t had a neutral ground in which to talk freely or constructively.

Here’s how it’ll work, since I’ve been lazy about writing this up:

Friday night, people arrive in Calaveras. People make their way to the Ferriere Vineyard and set up camp from 6-9pm. Something like that. Accommodations in local hotels will be available for those not wanting to brave the wide open eastern California spring air. We’re just not gunna book it for you — that’ll be up to those who want to stay in hotels. Ok, so meanwhile people break out the acoustics and bongos around the campfire, have a chill serenade until folks mosey off to sleep.

Day 2, Saturday morning. Cowboy brunch with all the fixin’s… griddle pancakes, maple syrup, coffee, bacon (for meat eaters).. the whole works. We take this to sometime around 11am, making sure folks driving the 3 hours or so east of San Francisco get there (ideally folks arrive Friday night, but undoubtedly some will come on Saturday).

WhiteboardAround 11:15am we have the kick off. Some brave soul will face the crowd, tell them what WineCamp’s all about, and what the heck we’re doing. Yeah, that’s likely going to be me. The day’s loose schedule will be reviewed and then we’ll break out into small group pow-wows, with all the ad hoc trappings of Barcamp, but without wifi, without power, without PowerPoint or any other digital or powered accoutrements. Seriously. Day 2 is a day for gathering, for conversing, for just being with other people outside — outside talking about the things that really get them excited to wake up every morning — but that all also rile them up around midday when the technology they have gets in their way.

The point is to talk about where we’re at, what we love and what we can make better.

We’ll go into the evening, have a big dinner cookout BBQ fit for Matty Matt. The works, y’know? Ribs or whatever you carnivores like. Plenty of veggies and corn and — yes — salad or something. Drinks, dessert. Y’know. A big cookout!
Oh, and did I mention the pure flow of wine all day long? Yeah, that’ll help tide people over who are off their digital fix for the day.

So we go until whenever Saturday night, I dunno, we’ll figure it out.

Sunday the junkies can have their toys back because on Saturday, in the afternoon, they would have planned out what they wanted to do the next day in small teams of creators, thinkers, implementers, users and reality-checkers. These small teams will determine what happens where on Sunday — whether it means going back into the town of Murphy’s where we will have power and wifi for your hacking needs or whether you stay at the vineyard and keep thinking big thoughts that will change your organization (or the world) upon your return.

Look, it’ll all make sense and work out when we get there. We’re all smart people with something to contribute; I’m not going to worry about it!

Things we do need to work out? Getting meals like lunch and dinner sponsored. Getting a port-a-potty on site (I think Andrew has this one covered). Buying firewood. Water. T-shirts! Provisioning a conference-center space on Sunday for hacking and creating (though we seem to have a sponsor that will take care of this!). There are plenty of things to do. There are few of us. There seem to be many people interested in attending. And I’m totally jazzed about what this event will mean for the open source and non-profit communities.

So I guess I’m asking now — in the spirit of open sourcing this event — to start turning this into your event. Tara and I leave for Bangalore in a week and will be gone for about that long (for Barcamp Bangalore). We’ve got lots of things going on. And already, we’ve had a great outpouring of support from folks like Chris Heuer, Jen Myronyk, Andrew Ferriere and great folks at Tech Soup/Compumentor/Net Squared like Billy Bicket, Greg Beuthin, John Lorance, and Marnie Webb.

This is all a big experiment and hey, the more folks who really own a piece of making this event a success, well, the more a success it will be.

So if you can contribute and help organize, join up on the mailing list, drop on the wiki or let us know how you can help. And yes, we have a sign up page too… it’s not quite as simple as registering on Upcoming — we’re actually collecting money to cover the cost of food this time — and any extra money we have left over will be donated to Net Squared. So get in early if you’re really planning
on going — spaces are limited to 150.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

4 thoughts on “WineCamp planning report”

  1. There’s reportedly interest in the New York/Niagara region so sure, if it wants to spread, that would be excellent!

    Personally I wouldn’t mind a trip out to Southern France for a WineCamp!

  2. Hi,
    We’re thinking of coming out Wednesday to Wednesday (May 24 to 31). Gerry’s eye appt. went okay so we’re definitely planning on coming out. Any suggestions for hotels?
    Happy Easter, Mom

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