Pantheon Community

WebOps Wednesday AMA: Katie Richards

My name is Katie Richards, and I’m a Community Coordinator here at Pantheon. My role here at Pantheon is to coordinate and support the Pantheon Heroes program. I feel so lucky to spend my days having conversations with the amazing WordPress/Drupal/Pantheon enthusiasts in that program.

I’ve been in and around the WordPress community for about ten years, though I really dove in around 2012 when I started attending WordCamps. I love connecting people with opportunities, companies, and new friends, which was a large part of my work at Post Status as well. I recently attended my first Drupal event (DrupalCorn) and enjoyed getting to know that community in real life, too.

Outside of WordPress, I enjoy cooking (but mostly eating) things, I love terrible movies and books, I build & collect Lego stuff, and am a big Disney aficionado. I also do living history and am an amateur historian of the American Civil War period.

Ask me anything! Community, advocacy programs, WordPress, Drupal, American Civil War history, favorite cheese…it’s all game.

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Hi, Katie! I’m full of questions but I’ll start with this one: What’s the best way you recommend for getting started in the WordPress community? I feel like WordCamps are an obvious start, but where should one go from there?

Excellent question! WordCamps are the easy answer but attending is not always the easiest thing to do if you don’t know anyone and may be many months away.

The easiest way to start building relationships IRL is to finding and attending a local meetup. There are over 1,600 WordPress groups listed on Meetup.com. There are local groups all over the world! There are outdoor groups, indoor groups, niche groups, you name it!

If showing up at a small gathering of like-minded folks makes you sweaty (I understand!), give Twitter a try, it worked for me! The WordPress community is very active on Twitter. You can start by finding and following your local camp and perhaps some of the last event’s speakers. Respond, interact, and be authentic! A few accounts I find super helpful are Pantheon’s (natch!) and Post Status for WordPress news and podcast recommendations.

Howdy Katie :wave:, what is the most recent meal you’ve cooked up, ate, and thought, “Yep, this is going into my regular rotation of foods, it’s amzing!!”?

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I love, love, love simple food that I can prep in advance and throw together last minute. Our family has a version of smoked sausage-potato-sweet pepper-onion + whatever veggies we have in the fridge for every season (we grill it up in foil for most of the year).
The fall iteration involves tossing everything in a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt/pepper/garlic and roasting a very full half-sheet pan until the potatoes are soft (30 minutes perhaps), adding the sausage and cooking for 5 more minutes.
It uses up those odds and ends of veggies we have in the fridge, can be stored all cut up in the fridge all day, and dinner is on with little stress! That’s a huge win in my book

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You sold me on “outdoor WP meetups”. :heart_eyes: Thank you!

You should check out my friend Mendel’s group, Geek Adventures. You’d really dig what he’s doing!

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Hi @katie.richards ! :wave:

First and foremost, do you think @rzen would let me borrow you to whip up some dishes for me this Thanksgiving? Because I could use some serious help!

All cooking aside, what do you love most about building advocacy programs? Over the years, what have you found most challenging when building community & advocacy? Also, with all the awesome work you’re doing with our #PantheonHeroes what can we expect next? Any exciting news to share!?

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Hi @katie.richards, thanks for sharing your story! What was your all-time favorite WordPress event and why?

Also, what is your favorite cheese?

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I’d be happy to help with Thanksgiving! We always celebrate with our extended family which spreads the cooking around quite a bit. There’s a bunch of things I’d love to make.

I love that advocacy programs help everyone involved! The advocates help the company using their community influence and networks; the company helps the advocates by providing training, sponsorships for travel, and fun perks along the way. I love a situation where everybody wins!

Funny enough, that’s also one of the most challenging parts of building a community. Communities are made of individuals with different skills and goals so there’s no “one size fits all” advocacy plan that will work 100% of the time. There’s always a lot of study and learning involved in making a program that’s perfectly suited for the members.

We’re working hard on a few things in Heroes that will automagically track the work that a lot of our advocates are doing already by contributing code and docs. I’m really excited to start seeing that happen. We’re also looking into ways the Program (and Pantheon as a whole) can better support local meetup groups.

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There are so many events to choose from! It took me until 2018 to finally attend WordCamp Miami. It was the event’s 10th anniversary, the first US WordCamp to reach that milestone (I believe) and it was an incredibly well organized event filled with really great presentations and representatives from pretty much any company you’d want to have a conversation with. I’m hoping to return to Miami again soon.

My current favorite cheese is manchego. It’s traditionally a sheep’s milk cheese and is a little dryer and harder than a cheddar. It has an almost nutty quality to it that’s quite fab.

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Hi Katie!
I’m so excited to know another history fan! To me, history is fascinating and I love the storytelling aspect of it. I’d love to hear one of your favorite stories/anecdotes from the Civil War.

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Oh goodness, there’s so many different stories I could answer with!
I am a member of a group of living historians that focuses on what life was like here at home in Michigan in the 1850s-1860s.
As someone who enjoys cooking, I find interpreting period authentic recipes particularly fascinating. Many of the foods we enjoy today have Victorian counterparts but a lot of what they cooked and ate was planned to make the most of the simple ingredients they had and in the season in which the produce was grown. Sweets and baked goods were noticeably less sweet and contained fewer spices because of the disproportionate cost. Some of the work involved, like beating eggs for a layer cake, makes anything I cook in my modern kitchen look like child’s play! Many recipes will give a list of ingredients with approximate measurements (“a ball of butter the size of a bird’s egg”?!) and little to no instruction on how to put together the dish. Cooking antique recipes is science and history all rolled into one!

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