In 2009 I attended Wordcamp Vancouver and actually met a handful of people I still talk to, tweet to and hang out with on a semi-regular basis. At the Wordcamp after party I was talking with @curtismchale and he mentioned although he didn’t do much ruby development he got together with the Fraser Valley Ruby Brigade on Wednesday nights in Abbotsford. He also mentioned they hang out on irc frequently and I should pop into the channel and say Hi.

A short time after Wordcamp I did log into IRC for the first time in a very long time and started talking to the members online. Not being from Vancouver I didn’t consider the 100km trip into Abbotsford to be that big of a trip. A lot of Vancouverites have probably lived happily never having gone that far outside the city. I hopped into the car and made my way out to the Brigade. They met at the Clayburn Gourmet Gallery. It was a nice little spot and there were 8 people with laptops surrounding a table. It was a safe assumption that this was them.

The group was small but very welcoming and friendly. Ranging from 3-15 people on an average night. Over the next couple months I tried to make a habit of going out on Wednesdays to meet with the group.

So why not just go to a local meetup?
Most of the local meetups involve shaking a lot of hands and hearing that someone is the (insert title) of their (buzzword) new startup. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy tech networking but it can also be fatiguing. Going out to the meetup in Abbotsford is no longer just about going to a meetup and hanging out with like minded people. It’s about personal relationships. They’re people I communicate with almost every day. People I exchange ideas with, people I help and solicit help from outside of programming. The members of the FV.RB are friends.

So what makes this meetup different?
There are a couple obvious differences between this meetup and others I’ve been to.

  • The format is: There is no format.
    This meetup has no presentation. Has no speakers. Has no Intros and Q&As. It’s very informal. Bring something to work on and hang out. Although if you did have something you want to share with everyone they’d be happy to hear about it.
  • The Regulars:
    Unlike other meetups this isn’t a group of 50 strangers. The group sees regulars frequently who know each other and are very welcoming of new comers who over time will become regulars.
  • The group meets frequently:
    Lots of meetups have infrequent schedules. This is every week same bat time, same bat place.

That is why I drive 100km out of Vancouver to Abbotsford for a meetup.