What kind of connection is strong enough to bring people together from Sydney, Seattle, Iquique, Oslo, Grand Case, Pune (India), Osaka or also Auxerre, to name a few? What kind of strange "madness" motivates hundreds of people to come to a German village, at the foot of a fortress, to talk about the web, code, links and free software for a few days?
The explanation lies in one word: Joomla! (it means "all together" in Swahili). Indeed, the 5th edition of the "J and Beyond" conference took place at the end of May 2014 in Königstein, near Frankfurt. And the most amazing thing of all for me is that I was there!
Barely had I digested all the emotions felt during my first JoomlaDay in Paris, that I had to prepare this new rendez-vous with the Joomla Community. I would finally meet Sarah, Tessa, Matthew, David, Marc-Antoine, Radek et Sigrid, Nicholas, Saurabh, and many more. While a JoomlaDay stands for sharing, J and Beyond would make me understand why I am so deeply attached to this community.
In the original etymological meaning ("cum munus"), a community is a group of people ("cum") who share something ("munus") such as a good or a resource. I would like to add "with passion" to the definition concerning the Joomla! community. Frankly, it doesn't exist anywhere else. To my knowledge, no other group has the emotional power to generate so many feelings. And most extraordinarily, these emotions are transcultural: all of those present felt it, regardless of their origin, religion or ethnicity. All present had only one idea in mind: Joomla!
Belonging to a group is without a doubt what one misses most when working as a freelancer, like myself. It is comforting to meet with people who "speak" and "understand" what you do and what you are experiencing daily. Of course, there are social networks to discuss, interact, respond and create new friends in the same sphere of activity. But they will never replace real, face-to-face contact.
Here was a rich program of three days dedicated to our CMS and its ecosystem. There was something for everyone: keynotes, sessions about design, marketing and extension developoment. So many exciting things to learn and to listen to that I forgot (sometimes) to take notes. And yet I had promised myself to tweet and to take careful notes in the sessions I would attend.
One of the most amazing things (and probably the most representative of the spirit of this J and Beyond), was certainly the "Make it happen" session organized on Saturday afternoon. The principle is so obviously simple that it should be applied everywhere. Several workshops were organized on different themes, and you were free to attend one (or ones) of your choice. Nothing is required, it's up to you to know what you want to share and bring to the community. I have always felt that leaving people free to their choices and their desires makes them infinitely more creative and fulfilled, and therefore happier. This "Make it happen" did this perfectly.
One can decide to go to J and Beyond to promote one’s business, like a sponsor (and thanks to them!), to meet up with old friends, or to learn about Joomla. My first idea when going to Königstein, was to meet these people in real life, and also to tell them "thank you"! Thank you for the passion of Joomla that they give me, thank you to this fantastic community for helping me, thank you to those people who trust me today (Tessa, Matthew, Paul, Marc-Antoine, etc), thank you to everyone for accepting me as one of your own. I've found my place and I'm proud to be here, side by side with you all.