Episode 4 cover image

Episode 4: Miriam Goldman

Miriam works for Kanopi Studios as a WordPress Engineer. Outside of her coding life, she is heavily involved in the WordPress Community team:

  • lead organizer for WordCamp Ottawa 2020,
  • co-organizer of the Ottawa WordPress meetup,
  • and is the team lead for the Train the Trainers sub-team of the Diverse Speaker Training group (#wpdiversity).

She also speaks at various WordCamps across North America. Not being content to just that, she’s also a 3rd degree black belt in karate, a competitive ballroom dancer, and a clarinet player in a local community band. She’s working on how to do all three at the same time.


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Christina: Welcome to wp_contribute(). Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Miriam Goldman. Miriam works for Kanopi studios as a WordPress engineer. Outside of her coding life, she’s heavily involved in the WordPress community team, lead organizer for WordCamp Ottawa 2020, co organizer of the Ottawa WordPress meetup, and is the team lead for the Train the Trainer’s sub-team of the Diverse Speaker Training group, #WPdiversity. She also speaks at various WordCamps across North America. Not being content to just, that she’s also a third degree black belt in karate, a competitive ballroom dancer, and a clarinet player in a local community band. And she’s working on how to do all three at the same time. Well Miriam.

Miriam: Thanks for having me.

Christina: So how’s that going? Working on all three at the same time.

Miriam: I think I’ve got the clarinet playing and the dancing going down pretty well but the karate is, and maybe the karate and the dancing but I haven’t incorporated all three.

Christina: You’ll need like a karate dance kind of..

Miriam: My teacher and I are working on that for next year. We’re trying to incorporate a karate into one of my dances. So

Christina: That’s really cool. Now, how do you do all that stuff with a WordPress twist? That’ll be the ultimate challenge.

Miriam: Get them to dress up as a Wapuu?

Christina: Oh my god, I love it. Could you imagine the Wapuu mascot dancing around?

Miriam: Well, I saw the videos from WordCamp US and I saw the big Wapuu was there. So and I saw Raquel Landefeld got a rhumba in.

Christina: Oh right?

Miriam: So,

Christina: yes,

Miriam: I gotta work on that at WordCamp US this year.

Christina: I had the honour of having my picture taken just standing with the WordPress or the Wapuu mascot, and it is very big.

Miriam: I can’t..

Christina: Round around the middle. And for anybody who hasn’t seen any of those pictures, if you go to the WordCamp US Twitter feed and website I’m sure there’s pictures there of the Wapuu mascot. First time, in North America anyways. It was awesome.

Christina: So let’s get back to you though. Is there anything that you want to touch on other than what we’ve already talked about, just briefly in in the introduction, anything else by way of introduction to you or is that a pretty good sum up of you?

Miriam: That’s a pretty good sum up of me. I’m involved in some other tech groups here in Ottawa. One of them is a Ottawa ladies coding group which I help run events so I did an impromptu WordPress 101 which was supposed to be how to extend WordPress but nobody knew PHP. So I ended up doing a off the wall on the spot Intro to WordPress 101 and how to develop locally. And I’m also a mentor for a local Women in Communication and Technology Group here so

Christina: Nice are those both on the meetup.com platform as well?

Miriam: One of them is and the other one is just because of the people I’ve known through my career here in Ottawa. So.

Christina: Cool. That’s, that’s really awesome. So you contribute not just to WordPress, but to all kinds of things.

Miriam: Pretty much not just technology, but I firmly believe in giving back if you are in an opportunity to give back. That is I guess one of my tenants of life is I feel that you should give back to others who are just coming along or even those who’ve been established because it’s important to keep the cycle going.

Christina: That is a good way to think. I like it. Awesome. So how long have you been contributing to WordPress?

Miriam: Not that long, really. I’ve only been speaking since 2016.

Christina: Mm hmm.

Miriam: And I joined the organizing team for WordCamp Ottawa in 2017. And that’s when Jill Binder started the Diverse Apeaker Training group. Shortly after I joined the organizing team, so really only a little over two years, two and a half years that I’ve been contributing.

Christina: Okay, I was doing the quick math now. It’s like it’s 2020 and 2016. That’s four years. That’s like a lifetime in tech. Even two and a half years is still still a decent amount of time. Do you remember how you started contributing? What your first, first time was?

Miriam: I would say was I’m content, I count speaking as contributing

Christina: Absolutely.

Miriam: That would be speaking at WordCamp Ottawa, in 2016, doing a lightning talk because my manager at the time said that I know my stuff, so I should speak. And they accepted me. And then it’s a story for another time. But I went through a whole thing about how I didn’t want to speak again the next year, but I like helping out. So Shawn Hooper and Meagan Hanes brought me onto the organizing team. And the it just went through there that I did just social media and web stuff that year, and I just ended up taking on more and more and really, really liked it. And then I just found different ways that I could contribute and not do it through code.

Christina: I don’t have any tattoos but I like to liken contributing to WordPress especially working with meetups and and WordCamps and speaking to getting tattoos: it becomes very addictive.

Miriam: Yep.

Christina: And it just starts to snowball.

Miriam: Yep, no, I can see that.

Christina: Yeah, so it sounds like yeah, you you drank the Kool Aid, too.

Miriam: Yep. Tasty Kool Aid.

Christina: It is tasty Kool Aid. Do you remember what your talk was about?

Miriam: I do it was um, us being in Canada, we build multilingual websites. So at the time, the company I worked for we used two different plugins for doing multilingual sites we used qTranslate X and Polylang. So I did a case study of called the Battle of the Plugins and I highlighted the two different plugins that we use as alternatives to WPML which I had no experience with at the time.

Christina: Neat! And I’m sure it went over really well. And I imagine you do, I don’t imagine, I know you know your stuff. And the very fact that you can pull out a WordPress 101 talk out of your pock- back pocket on a moment’s notice is proof of that. Um, let’s see here. So you mentioned speaking and WordCamp organizing and the training. But the training is actually part of the Diverse Speaker Training group, which is like a sub-team of the community team, right?

Miriam: Yes.

Christina: So you’re you’re contributing, basically, essentially falls under community

Miriam: Correct

Christina: if we were going to label it. Awesome. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the Diverse Speaker Training group in general, and then also about what you specifically do with that.

Miriam: So the Diverse Speaker Training group came from a it’s a brainchild of Jill Binder who is out in Vernon BC. And

Christina: Yay.

Miriam: So essentially, it started as a way to try and get more women to speak.

Christina: Right

Miriam: Because a lot of women especially felt imposter syndrome. And it was it was very, very male skewed at for WordCamp speakers. And if I recall correctly, Jill, at the time, was part of the organizing team and she wanted to help change that. So her passion is women, like helping women speak so that’s where it came out from, but then over time, it turned into being more to help those who may be in under represented group, so those who might be queer, those who might be of a visual minority, immigrants who may not have English as their first language and in Canada, pretty much all our WordCamps except for Montreal are English only.

Christina: Right?

Miriam: And around the world, they’re usually primarily one language sometimes two. So that’s where that came from. And so it’s basically workshops to help overcome the imposter syndrome to brainstorm how to come up with a talk idea how to come up with a title, writing your bio, so it’s tools to help equip those who may be nervous to speak,

Christina: right,

Miriam: to help get them feel that they, if it’s something they’re interested in after this workshop, there’s no commitment to saying that if you attend this workshop, you must speak. Kind of a way to pique their interest and to show that it’s not scary. And my role is actually, as name implies, train the trainers. So I train those who are going to be running these workshops.

Christina: Right.

Miriam: So basically, we have video calls and we watch a workshop. And I encourage the trainers to participate because I feel that if they’re running the workshop, they should have an understanding of the material.

Christina: Absolutely.

Miriam: So I’m there kind of as a resource to help them go through the workshop, help them understand how to run it, it’s not an in depth one, it’s more so that they feel comfortable. And then we give them resources afterwards to get in touch with either myself or Jill Binder or Angela Jin, we’re the three main I guess, training people.

Christina: Okay. Cool. And I have done the training.

Miriam: Yes, I believe you were on one of mine.

Christina: You were my trainer.

Miriam: Yes, I believe I had you and Aurooba, who else did I have? We had other people.

Christina: Yeah, there were I think there are people Oh, do you know what JC was another? Or no, wait.

Miriam: JC was on the video,

Christina: JC was on the video. And I remember because now I work with JC and so it was just like this whole everything was connected, you know?

Miriam: Exactly. And AmyJune was on the training that I ran then, and now I work with AmyJune.

Christina: Yes, it’s a small world. It’s so wonderful.

Miriam: Exactly

Christina: And all of us women doing all of these great things. That is most excellent as Bill and Ted might say.

Miriam: Yes. Good reference.

Christina: Well, they’re making a new one, I think right, so

Miriam: Yeah I’m excited for that.

Christina: Speaking of party on dude, have you ever been to a contributer day?

Miriam: I have. I’ve been to…I think the only official one that I’ve been to was Seattle 2017.

Christina: Okay.

Miriam: Yeah, it was more of a contributor track rather than a contributor day.

Christina: Okay.

Miriam: So that was just basically a room in Seattle where you could come in and out and help contribute. So that is before I really joined the diverse speaker training group. I was definitely interested in community. So I believe at the time I was going to become a community deputy. I put that on hold for now. And but I remember talking with Andrea Middleton and her helping me, getting me to help by like reading over the handbooks and making sure that they made sense to somebody who has no prior knowledge of the WordPress community. And I was still pretty new to the community at the time because I just started leaving Ottawa, I mean, Seattle, Ottawa, they’re not exactly neighbors, so

Christina: No. Seattle’s one I hope to get to at some point because it’s a little kind of south-ish.

Miriam: It’s a great community. If LA ever starts up again, out of the US ones that I’ve went to,

Christina: Mm hmm.

Miriam: On the west coast, those are the two that I enjoyed the most.

Christina: Yeah?

Miriam: Rochester is another one of my favorites, but Michelle Frechette is involved with that. So I mean, yeah, Michelle.

Christina: I know. I know. Most of the ones I hear about are the ones that are bigger. Oh, you have to go. They’re all they’re all either on the East Coast, and I’m in Calgary. So more West Coast-ish, but not quite coast. Or if they are kind of West, they all happen at the same time as either our local Camp here in Calgary or WordCamp US which I’m involved in and so it just doesn’t work.

Miriam: Yeah, it’s so hard to get to all the ones that you want to get to.

Christina: Yeah, I know if all my magic wands and such right.

Miriam: Star Trek transporters.

Christina: Yeah. Or what’s that thing in, in. Maybe that’s where I was in Harry Potter that Hermoine gets to turn back the time and that that

Miriam: Time turner.

Christina: Yeah. Yeah, all of those things would be great. So you said that’s the official contributor day that you went to. Does that mean there’s unofficial ones that you went to?

Miriam: The unofficial ones have just been not too much days, but just seeing something on Slack like they like the community team meetings that I sometimes, well, now I participate, but before I would lurk in them, so kind of just I don’t I don’t say this in a negative way, but kind of worming my way and insane ways like in slack that I could contribute. And so

Christina: Getting a feel for the lay of the land.

Miriam: Exactly. Yeah, I like that.

Christina: Yeah. I know what you mean, I’m a lurker too sometimes.

Christina: Cool. So you did some of those sort of participating in the Slack staff. And that’s pretty cool. Oh, I wanted to ask you about the one in Seattle, because you said it was sort of you, you drop in and you can go in and out and that so was it happening at the same time that presentations were happening in another track?

Miriam: Yes. From what I can recall, they had, I believe they had workshops, a contributot track and regular talks that day.

Christina: Okay. That’s pretty neat.

Miriam: So that was the second day because I remember I did, I moderated the Women in WordPress panel on the Saturday and this was the Sunday.

Christina: Right. Okay. And so it was a two-day. That’s good to know. I’m always curious how other contributor days run, because that’s one of the things I’m starting to do. So. That’s awesome. What would you say is your proudest contribution in these last couple of years?

Miriam: I would say, I can’t really pinpoint it to one.

Christina: Mm hmm.

Miriam: So I will pick my top three.

Christina: Okay.

Miriam: So my top one would be seeing how successful the Women in WordPress panel is.

Christina: Uh huh.

Miriam: And I did that because I didn’t want to do anything with slides and I wanted to allow others to talk and not just me.

Christina: Yeah,

Miriam: So that’s where that idea came from. And it went over so well, when I first did it in Ottawa in 2017. That’s when I’m like, I want to travel. And then I saw how successful it was in the other cities that I did it in and then I’m like, Okay, this is just amazing. I’m letting others’ voices be heard, but yet I’m still contributing in a big way.

Christina: Absolutely. And again, you did that in Calgary with us last year, which was phenomenal.

Miriam: Second would be the Diverse Speaker Training group, because not only am I helping to equip others, I get something out of it every time I run a Train the Trainers because I take notes, and I kind of follow along with the workshop, and it’s helped me evolve as a speaker.

Christina: MmHmm.

Miriam: And so, just having that dual, I guess, positivity that comes out of it.

Christina: Yeah. And I have to say, when I did the training with you, I came out of that with a topic and was all like, All right, let’s go and, and we’re going to be running that workshop in Calgary in February 2019 [editor’s note: should be 2020]. And I am expecting to come up with another idea even though I’ll be helping others, but

Miriam: That’s so great

Christina: But yeah, I know what you mean you when you’re going through it at the same time you’re still experiencing it and then you with that the whole idea of community, you’ve got other people there and you know, you can bounce things off of and get inspired by other people.

Miriam: Exactly. I first started doing it to try and I guess prompt others to do it. But then now I genuinely want to do it every time I watch the video. So I’m very proud of that. I’m involved with that. And the third is how successful WordCamp Ottawa was in 2019. We were on a very tight timeline.

Christina: Uh huh.

Miriam: But we pulled it off. And the fact that David Bisset in Miami acknowledged and said that he heard that WordCamp Ottawa was fantastic. He just said that to me in response to something I replied to him and Allie Nimmons on Twitter. Wow, I’m proud that I did way more than I should because I was speaker lead, social media lead, website lead and onsite volunteer coordinator because I stuck by the registration desk. So the volunteers would naturally come to me instead of trying to find our volunteer coordinator who was either in a room or attending a session at the time.

Christina: Right

Miriam: So I’m like, Okay, I’m still sane after that summer,

Christina: yeah.

Miriam: And I’m Lead next year. So I’m proud of the evolution of my role with the WordCamp Ottawa. And especially with WordPress, the local meetup. I only became a co-organizer the summer when we got in on the Foundation program, right. And already one of the other co-organizer there’s like, checks with me. He doesn’t just run with it and goes He’s like, “hey what do you think of this speaker?” and I’m like “Okay.” I like to say that I’ve helped him grow himself because he tended to just kind of like hoard it himself and do it by himself and now he has a team.

Christina: And it’s helpful because I I joined helping out with our meetup when it was just one person as well and you could see the burnout happening right like it’s a lot to do all by yourself Yeah, um, the good thing with being a team lead, because I was a team lead a few years ago, is you can delegate anything and everything

Miriam: That’s what Cami said

Christina: That’s what she told me too. She’s like “Delegate. You are the delegator because you’re gonna get everything else dumped on you at some point.”

Miriam: She’s like, “you will be fantastic as a lead because you are doer. But you have to start not trying to do everything yourself.”

Christina: Yes.

Miriam: So, it’s she’s like, just because you’re there to help pick up the pieces, but don’t jump at it. Encourage your team to do things. So

Christina: yeah, and if you have a good team and, I suspect you do.

Miriam: We do. We have a fantastic team here in Ottawa. We have the core of us who have been doing this for a while. And we have a few eager people who approached us this year who want to join the organizing team. So, I’m excited to really kick off with it, like in the second week of January and try and get our venue nailed down.

Christina: That’s awesome. I know. So you mentioned that you had a short timeline. And I remember this because you had come to our WordCamp in Calgary, which was at the Oh, it was kind of the middle of May last year, I think.

Miriam: May 10th and 11th, it was Mother’s Day weekend.

Christina: Yeah, and your WordCamp was in July?

Miriam: Yes.

Christina: That’s, and you, and and it had not. You guys didn’t have a venue yet, at our WordCamp, right?

Miriam: I think we were waiting on the official contract to be signed at that time. I know we hadn’t announced it yet.

Christina: Yeah, so you still had to do like the call for speakers, and the call for sponsors and like everything in a less than three month window,

Miriam: Exactly

Christina: which is 100% a really short timeline for a WordCamp.

Christina: Gettin’ it done

Miriam: I think we had like, it was either a three week or four week window for speakers and I was just like, okay, I checked with our … like nobody’s allergic to dogs right? Okay, we’re coming over to my place we’re doing this speaker selection at my place

Miriam: and I will do that and so there’s a picture I think on Shawn’s Instagram, and somebody’s Instagram of myself, Meagan, Shawn, Christie Witt, and my dog just after the speaker selection. But we got it done.

Christina: That’s how you get it done.

Miriam: Having said that, it was fantastic. So, I’m trying to nail down that venue as soon as the university will give it to us. So that way we’re not running on four weeks speaker…

Christina: Yeah, it’s definitely you can get it done really quickly if you need to. But you don’t want to do that every year.

Miriam: Exactly. I want to have a bit more breathing room this year.

Christina: Yeah. I think there was a team at that one of our Calgary ones a few years ago. I think they pulled it together in like two months or something like that.

Miriam: That’s even tighter than we did.

Christina: Yeah, it’s, I wasn’t involved back then. I just heard about it. But I know that that’s that’s a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. And yeah, it’s one of those you do it when it’s necessary. And absolutely something to be proud of. And I really wished I could go to that one. But,

Miriam: Well maybe this year, we’re looking at mid-July

Christina: Perhaps

Miriam: so as soon as we have more information, I will be able to speak more of it.

Christina: Excellent. Well, we will all look forward to that. That’s WordCamp Ottawa.

Miriam: Yes,

Christina: 2020. Perfect. Talking about the Women in WordPress panel. How many times, do you know how many times you’ve ran it?

Miriam: Let me think. So 2017 I did it in Ottawa, New York City, Seattle, Rochester, and then 2018 I did it in Miami and Los Angeles. And then I did it in Calgary this year. So seven? I want to say seven because Montreal I’ve never done it. And I did not do it in Rochester this past year because I had already done it before.

Christina: Right. That’s,

Miriam: So seven times.

Christina: that’s impressive. And again, it was amazing here. I assume it was there as well. How many people do you usually have on stage with you?

Miriam: It all depends on if I’m trying to, if I am responsible for getting my panelists, I try and get four people. So five of us total. And so the most I had is I did have New York City, the speaker, the organizers, put it together for me. They got me five panelists and they want, and other people still wanted to be on it. So I had to say no, because nobody would have time to speak.

Christina: That’s a sign of success.

Miriam: Oh, and I had good panelists, but I had Helen Hou-Sandi, I had Sandy Edwards, I had Christie Chin… I don’t know how to say her last name. Sorry, Christie!

Christina: I know who you mean, and I will try to look up and fill in in the transcript who you meant to say [editor’s note: Christie Chirinos]

Miriam: and then Angelica Yarde I believe her name and she’s a local New York City woman,

Christina: Hmm

Miriam: Oh, she’s fantastic. So they did a really good job in bringing it together. So as I’ve gone on, I try and work with the organizers to get local women, or at least at least half of the panel should be local in my opinion. And I’m trying really hard to get diverse. So it’s not just a bunch of white women up on stage.

Christina: Right, because that’s as close to a bunch of white men as you can get without the men part.

Miriam: Exactly. So I’m really was trying to work hard on getting diversity, not just in experience but in for lack of better words how they look? And my next time I do it, I really want to get somebody who English is their second language. So that, like they have enough English that they can hold the conversation but I want to show people who has English as a second language said, like, okay, contribute you, I don’t have to worry about this.

Christina: Yeah, cuz I mean there’s nothing of course neither of us is saying there’s anything wrong with a bunch of white men or a bunch of white women as people. But the more diverse we have panels like this, the more people we’re speaking to, and showing representation that they too can do these kinds of things, right? So

Miriam: My biggest thing that I want to try and do in 2020 and now this is going to be hard because I don’t know how many trans women or non-binary folk are involved. I would love to have either a woman who is trans or a non-binary individual on the panel to basically really show the diversity Because I really think that’s important because I have a lot of people close to me who are queer I know of non-binary folk. And so I really want to help elevate them and make them feel that they’re not.

Christina: Mmhmm.

Miriam: That they are recognized, essentially.

Christina: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s for Ottowa or in general?

Miriam: In general, like, hopefully we can get that as speakers in general, but especially if I do a panel.

Christina: Mm hmm.

Miriam: I really want to see that and I know as a cis white, heterosexual woman. That’s like, people might think it’s overkill, but I’m like, No, I really think it’s important to have I’d rather have a non-binary voice be heard over mine so if I’m ever applied to speak and I have somebody who is non-binary, who has the same topic, I will gladly give my spot up to the non-binary individual because they need their voice too. I can just go anywhere. I’m established in this community.

Christina: Yeah. That’s it. I like that. I imagine it would be easier in some cities, than others,

Miriam: The bigger cities, yes. Yes. Smaller WordCamps that it would be very hard to see that. But you never know.

Christina: You never know and baby steps, right? Even even just getting it making that happen and be a reality in the bigger camps helps it then trickle down

Miriam: Exactly

Christina: to the smaller camps as well. So it all works out. And hopefully Yeah, and hopefully one day we won’t have to try for things like this because it will just be normal

Miriam: Hopefully it will just happen. It’s like Okay, cool.

Christina: Yeah, exactly.

Christina: Ah, let’s see here. Have, do you have any advice for new contributors?

Miriam: I would say is find your passion. Find something that you’re passionate about. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to what you do for your job. I am a developer. I’m a senior developer. I’m being trained right now to be a tech lead. But I very rarely do talks about code and I don’t contribute to code. My contribution is to community because that is something very, very passionate to me. Because not only do I try and help out in the WordPress community, I’m a karate sensei. So I believe very much in teaching like my Sensei, is like, I’ve offered to go in on days I don’t have class. And he’s like, Oh, no, no, you don’t have to come out. I don’t want you to come in when you don’t have class and I’m like Sensei I’m offering. I don’t mind, I wouldn’t be offering if I didn’t mind. I go, we have some young teenagers who are dancing. So at our last dance competition, I could have easily just been like, Oh, I’m done dancing, I’m going to go find the shuttle and go explore downtown Toronto. No, I went and I went and supported them at the dance competition. So I very much believe in contributing and supporting people and finding what you’re passionate about. And also, don’t be scared. It’s a big community. But 99% of us are friendly, you’re always going to have those people. Let’s be real. You’re always going to have those people who are not welcoming to newcomers and everything but I would say 95 to 99% of us are welcoming and we will gladly accept new voices and we welcome it. So

Christina: I would agree with that and to the extent that our community is is more welcoming than your average community.

Miriam: I agree.

Christina: Yeah, we’re a great community.

Miriam: Yeah.

Christina: It’s how I meet people like you.

Miriam: Yeah, and I’m like this is I pretty much say it’s like most of my friends now are through the WordPress community. It was funny, um, I posted a picture from the after party at Rochester this year. My former manager is like, Hey, I didn’t know you knew Mike Jones and I’m like yeah, I’ve known him for like three years. And he’s like, I didn’t know you knew Colin Smillie. I’m like, he was my manager four years ago.

Christina: Yeah, and you know, and part of it is, you know, like you said, like, a lot of the people I consider friends now there’s a majority of them are WordPress people. And it’s because the people in the WordPress community are, just so gosh darn likable. It just sorta happens. How would you if somebody was looking to get into contributing, and they’re looking to get involved in some of the things that you contribute to, So speaking, organizing WordCamps, and probably the lesser…that’s not the right word. Um not as well known, because I think you guys are still kind of up and coming although I think you’re very well known, but the Diversity Speaker Training group within community, how would people start other other than lurking

Miriam: other than lurking. Well for speaking, I would say is approach an organizer of either your, first start at a meetup is what I would suggest. I would not suggest starting unless you are very, very confident, and you already feel confident as a speaker

Christina: right

Miriam: Start at your local meetup. They usually happen once a month in most cities. And I know for a fact that in Ottawa, we are looking for a more diverse roster of speakers because right now, it’s just been the organizers.

Christina: Uh huh. And I think that’s very often the case. So that would save meetup organizers a lot.

Miriam: Yeah. And just be like, I have this idea of something that I want to talk about. And the meetup organizer will either say, Sure, what are you available or will be like, okay, maybe that topic isn’t the best for our group, but do you have any other topics that you might be passionate about? Or do you think you can maybe put it more to a developer slant or a beginner slant?

Christina: Right, depending on what their Meetup group

Miriam: exactly

Christina: needs are, right? Yeah. And that tends to be a safe space, especially if you’re new. In my experience.

Miriam: No, I agree. For organizing WordCamps, I would suggest just starting out as a volunteer. We always need, you and I are both organizers for WordCamps. You always, the volunteers are essential to making the WordCamps run. And even if it’s something as simple as being there at the registration desk and highlighting people off as they come in and giving them their badge.

Christina: Yeah,

Miriam: That helps us so much.

Christina: Yes,

Miriam: Even if it’s so much as putting the lunch orders out at lunchtime. People need to eat.

Christina: Yeah, it’s not, the volunteer tasks typically are not very difficult. And anybody can do them and we’re always short of volunteers.

Miriam: Yeah. And then for the Diverse Speaker Training group is I would suggest is attend one of the Train the Trainers first, so you can and watch the video. I believe. I’ll make sure that it gets into the show notes, but we’ll get the link out for the form to take the training. So right. I would say attended training.

Christina: And those are online, right?

Miriam: They are online. They’re on Zoom calls. And right now there are two of us who are the main trainers. There’s myself, I’m on the eastern time zone in North America. And we have Angela Jin, who is in Spain, so she’s an hour past UTC.

Christina: Okay. So there’s options for everybody.

Miriam: Exactly. So attend a training, get a feel for what it’s like. We equip you with our Slack channel if you want to join and that’s where you could join it and we need people to do everything. You don’t have to be a trainer. You can join the marketing, you can join translations. We have some people who are translating to some of the Indian languages.

Christina: Smart.

Miriam: I know we have the marketing team, and I’m sure Jill has a lot of ideas percolating in her head.

Christina: So it’s almost like a whole WordPress WordCamp project itself, you have all of the same kinds of needs.

Miriam: Exactly. And sometimes it’s just like, small things like we have bi-monthly meetings on Slack. Even if it’s something that you can only on the days we have our meetings in our Slack channel, send out the one hour and five minute reminders. I’m doing that currently, but even if I had somebody else who was able to do that, I wouldn’t have to be like, Oh crap, it’s 11am my time I need to hit pause on my timer for work. And then jump back to work because I’m online 95% of the time for it. But there have been times I haven’t been able to make the meeting. And it’s just nice to know that somebody else has your back for that.

Christina: Yeah. And reminders are helpful, especially when we’re all busy doing other things and, and you get that ping saying, oh, you’re supposed to do this.

Miriam: Exactly.

Christina: Yeah. So that’s really great. because like you said, there’s lots of even just little ways that can help. You don’t have to dedicate hours every week and, and jump right in. You can start small and, and still make a difference.

Miriam: Yeah, there’s some weeks that I only do half an hour of contributing. There are some weeks I do more, so

Christina: There might be some I do none. But then other weeks make up for it. Yeah.

Christina: Everybody needs some time off.

Miriam: Exactly.

Christina: Awesome. Is there anything else about contributing in general, or things that you contribute to that you want to talk to talk about?

Miriam: Not so much in the WordPress community. But I really think now, that it’s important to get involved outside your WordPress community, especially if you’re involved in tech. In the WordPress community is fantastic. But there’s a lot of correlation between it. So I’m a mentor for Women in Communication and Technology.

Christina: Right

Miriam: So I’ve been asked to do a virtual mentorship rather than an in person one. So I have a woman here in Ottawa, and I have a woman in Toronto, and we meet once a month and I just answer their questions. And I think mentorship too if there’s a way that you can find if you’re experienced enough, I would say become a mentor because it’s amazing the amount of questions those who are just coming up in the field would have for you. And if you are just coming up, find a mentor. It will, it’s something I wish I had more seriously when I was coming up, I did have it a little bit, but I was more just as a mentor getting to senior developer rather than junior to intermediate. So it’s something I wish I had had more of when I was a junior developer. And so because of that, I want to help equip others to succeed and feel comfortable,

Christina: Right. And there are programs out there for things like that. But then sometimes, just I hate that word, not just, sometimes asking, is all you need to do if you know somebody, and you approach them. And the worst they can do is say No.

Miriam: Exactly.

Christina: But they might say yes, and you may develop this an amazing relationship and get a lot out of it. And so it’s a good idea to ask if you know somebody and you’re interested in them being your mentor.

Miriam: Yeah, definitely.

Christina: Yeah. So Women in Communication and Technology?

Miriam: yes, WCT.

Christina: Okay. So they’re not a local organization because you said you have somebody that you’re mentoring both in Ottawa but also in Toronto.

Miriam: So they have different chapters across Canada. This is a Canadian organization. So but somehow this woman from Toronto ended up finding the Ottawa region one, which is fine. So that’s why the director of mentorship was like, Okay, we have somebody who is a UX designer and wants to be a mentee, but she’s in Toronto, would you be willing to do a virtual mentorship I’m like, so you basically want me to organize my meetings where I can sit on my computer instead of having to go out and pay for food and stuff? Yes!

Christina: Yeah. Nice. It’s good when it works like that.

Miriam: And this way my dog should be involved in the mentorship too.

Christina: There you go. That’s awesome. And the other group you were talking about that was the women,

Miriam: Ladies, uh, Ottawa Ladies Coding Club, I believe is the official name. I just joined that on a whim and we have that I just went and we had a social event at a coffee shop and one of the co-organizers was like oh, would you be willing to talk about WordPress? I’m like, Yeah, sure. And then I organized this workshop which turned into a WordPress 101 thing. And after that, I’m like, hey, do you guys want some help? I can pitch in like an hour here and there. She’s like, Oh, yes, please.

Christina: Nice.

Miriam: So I’m like good. Okay. So I’m on Discord with two other ladies and in the new year I’m going to try and maybe not just always WordPress, even though that’s my heart and soul passion, maybe some PHP and pure programming things and just,

Christina: yeah,

Miriam: And maybe I can learn some stuff too because I want to continue to learn. I want to learn Ruby.

Christina: Cool. And what you just said about how you asked or said that you could help out and they practically jumped at you and said, Yes, is another example of how desperate we all are for volunteers. So if you’re interested in something, offer to help.

Miriam: The worst that can happen is somebody will be like, thank you so much for offering but we’re good.

Christina: Yeah. Which is very rare.

Miriam: I don’t think I’ve ever heard that.

Christina: Awesome. Alright, so now on to I don’t want to say my favourite question, but it really is my favourite question even though I love all this contributing talk. I love Wapuu and I think you do too. So if you had to pick a favourite or two, I feel like Dr. Seuss all of a sudden? Who would it be? Who?

Miriam: I love it. Reminds me of Michelle Frechette and Michelle Butcher-Jones with their whole

Christina: Oh, right!

Miriam: Yeah. Fantastic.

Christina: And that is one of the ones that yeah, that was Michelle’s one of hers. And so that’ll be on the site. There’ll be a picture of of that Wapuu.

Miriam: Well, I wouldn’t be a good Ottawa organizer if I didn’t say that ours was one of our favourite ones,

Christina: of course.

Miriam: And so very basic. Christie Witt did a great job with it.

Christina: Mm hmm.

Miriam: Tied with that is one my when I worked for Pondstone Digital Marketing my colleague Nick came up with a little Wapuu of Wapuu holding our logo like the stone.

Christina: Yeah,

Miriam: That was cute.

Christina: Describe the Ottawa one for us.

Miriam: The Ottawa one is basically it’s a ball with the City of Ottawa logo on it.

Christina: Okay.

Miriam: Kind of basic, but I mean, hey, we have one

Christina: It’s just as good. It’s a Wapuu.

Miriam: Exactly. And then the next one I would have to say is Montreal’s with the poutine.

Christina: Mm hmm. I just got the pin for that this year.

Miriam: Yeah. And then I actually have to say Calgary, it’s hard to say I think it’s the one with the stamp… with the Saddledome.

Christina: Yeah, we got the Calgary Tower and the Saddledome in there. And he’s got the white hat on which is a symbol of our ambassadorship and

Miriam: yeah, the hospitality that you see..

Christina: hospitality. Yes, thank you.

Miriam: …at the airport all the time.

Christina: Yes. So that is Wahoo Wapuu.

Miriam: I love it. Yeah. No, I was very, very happy to see that when I came because it was one those that I was so happy I got up to Calgary this year because having graduated high school in Calgary,

Christina: yeah.

Miriam: I always wonder like, Okay, I have to go, I have to go. Part of me was like, I wonder if anybody from my high school would be here. I don’t think they were. But it’s so nice to be able to come to a city that I knew how to get around.

Christina: Right.

Miriam: I was not like there, living there anymore.

Christina: Yeah, some familiarity but still still a visitor.

Miriam: It was nice, it was different to be there like as a woman in my mid 30s than it was to be as a girl who’s 18 and just graduated high school.

Christina: I hear ya. I can see that for sure. Awesome. Well, we were glad to have you I’m I was glad that you came out because look at all the steps that have happened since then. On the training together, we’re doing this and all great things. It’s fantastic. So I think that’s all the questions I have about contributing. Why don’t you let people know how they can get in touch with you, where they can find you. Any social links, website links that you want to throw out there.

Miriam: Yeah, well. My website I don’t update that much, but I’ll throw it out there. It’s www.miriamgoldman.ca. My Twitter handle is where I’m not as active as I used to be but if people interact with me I’ll respond. That’s mirigoldman: M I R I and G O L D M A N.

Christina: Okay.

Miriam: And then the other social network I’m active on is Instagram.

Miriam: And that is dancingsensei. As a dancer and Sensei, it makes sense,

Christina: Okay,

Christina: right

Miriam: So forewarning that’s mainly pictures of my dog. But I also sometimes post stuff about dance, when I go to a WordCamp, I’ve been trying to post more, like especially the Wapuu and remarks,

Christina: and I mean really, who doesn’t like a good dog picture?

Miriam: Exactly. Or a cat picture? If you are more of a cat lover than a dog lover then

Christina: Yeah,

Miriam: That is totally okay too but I only have my dog and my brother is allergic to cats. So I cannot have a cat because my brother comes over like twice a week.

Christina: So the dog it is

Miriam: yes.

Christina: Excellent. Awesome. Well, thank you for joining me today. Miriam. It has been a pleasure to have you and to talk about your contributions to the WordPress community and beyond.

Miriam: Yes, and thank you so much for having me. It was a great time.

Christina: Awesome. Okay. Bye.