WordCamp Savannah, held this past weekend, was the 6th WordCamp that the Semper Fi Web Design team has attended this year. Previous WordCamps include Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Raleigh (of course), and Chicago. Each one was enjoyable not just for the WordCamp itself but also for the location and the people I have met.
This is the second time I have been to Savannah and the first for Michael. As someone who has traveled extensively throughout the US, I have to admit that southern cities like Savannah and Charleston are among my favorite places. The people are friendly and the atmosphere is distinctively relaxed. I experience this every day living in Raleigh but it’s even more noticeable when visiting somewhere like Savannah. More about the city later but let me review the WordCamp for you.
WordCamp Savannah was organized by Jane Wells of WordPress.org and Caila Brown, SCAD Radio General Manager & District Print Art Director at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The location for the WordCamp was the SCAD River Club, an impressive two story warehouse on the banks of the Savannah River. The line up of speakers was a who’s who of the WordPress community and it was no surprise to see one or two Automatticians on the schedule including Matt Mullenweg. I’m sure it’s not often you will find so many with core commit access in the same room and WordCamp Savannah brought a number of them together. With so many experts in attendance the schedule was full of great sessions. In fact the only disappointment from this WordCamp was that the sessions were limited to 30 minutes in order to accommodate all of the great speakers.
Among the features of the WordCamp were a Q&A with members of the WordPress Core Team, tracks for user and developer, and the obligatory BBQ lunch. Jane and Caila organized two group activities which is unique amongst the WordCamps I’ve attended. There was also a Newbie workshop on the Friday and an “unconference” on the Sunday which I enjoyed. Overall the WordCamp was very well organized and delivered great content for beginners and developers alike. The session topics were all useful to anyone in the WordPress community and the extra events that were held made this a very worthwhile event. It was great to see so many people from the local community in attendance. There is a vibrant WordPress community in Savannah and the WordCamp served them very well.
If you haven’t visited Savannah I would encourage you to make the trip there. The city dates back to 1733 and the history can be seen throughout the city. One of the most unique areas is the riverfront where there are multiple levels from city street level down to river level. The riverfront is lined with restored cotton warehouses which have been converted into shops, bars and restaurants. Away from the river there are cobbled streets with park squares forming quadrangles where you can sit and rest. Perhaps the most famous is Chippewa Square on Hull Street where Forrest Gump sat and narrated the story of his life as people waited for the bus.
Outside of Savannah we visited Tybee Island on the mouth of the Savannah River. Tybee is well known for its lighthouse and civil war fort. The Tybee Island lighthouse is one of the first lighthouses on the Southeast Atlantic and is a beautiful exampl of an 18th century lighthouse. Fort Pulaski was built in 1829 by then Second Lieutenant Robert E. Lee who had recently graduated from West Point. Completed in 1833 it served as part of a chain of coastal defenses to protect against foreign invasion but became important as the site of the siege and surrender of Confederate forces in 1862.
Aside from the historical sites on Tybee Island, visitors should check out The Crab Shack situated just off the causeway as you reach the island. Having eaten there for three of the four days of our stay I can tell you that their seafood is definitely worth a trip in itself. Try their Shack Speciality platter piled high with crab, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, sausage, corn and potatoes. And don’t forget to visit the gator pool while you are there. But be warned, take some good bug spray as I got eaten alive by sand gnats.
This was a great WordCamp and a great trip and I’d like to thank Jane and Caila for organizing the WordCamp and hosting us. We will be back to Savannah.
Next WordCamp for the Semper Fi Web Design team is WordCamp Mid-Atlantic in Baltimore, MD on September 11th. See you there!