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Dev Journey Thoughts - Starting a Coding MeetUp

I've been craving community, and a way to connect with others who are on the journey to becoming a developer. Despite living in a large city, it's been hard to find an already-existing group that seems to hit all the targets. So, I thought I'd create a MeetUp to try and spark a new community.

Peer group formation is a pretty important concept in education, usually tossed around in connection with college cohorts and first-year experience programs. But, the need for cohorts doesn't end at university. One of the reason platforms like freecodecamp, The Odin Project, and countless others draw in such large participation is an inherent need to feel some sense of belongingness.

Yet it can be hard to find the right balance. In my journey, I've joined a few existing spaces that are devoted to the topic of development and coding. They're fantastic in their own way, but it can be overwhelming to step into spaces where hundreds (sometimes thousands) of other people are already in the middle of discussions.

So it's not uncommon to split into smaller groups or pairs or teams. But it's easy to forget about the power of local communities, and that's where MeetUps can excel. Right now, we're still in the midst of pandemic restrictions, but eventually the thought of getting together in person to chat over frameworks and other coding topics is incredibly appealing.

I think fostering a sense of shared ownership is a critical part of making something like this succeed. Rather than focusing around an individual or a mentor, there's a great deal of power in working together to solve problems. And that's the kind of community I want.

I tried the "guru-led" variety in the past and it turned into a rather sobering affair. Listening to soapbox ideological rants and essentially arguing for participants to ignore other perspectives or documents. It felt solipsistic. And the amount of fear and anxiety I saw in the faces of other attendees was too much to handle.

As part of my journey in general, I'd like to chronicle a bit of the formation of this group. It's small and has yet to meet for the first time, but I'm thinking about resources that can be added.

Key among those is a website, but one that is focused on providing members with a space to learn git and practice pull requests by adding themselves to a members list and linking to github portfolios and/or personal sites. Links to resources that are particularly helpful. Nothing out of the ordinary, honestly, but just a way of staying active.

Monthly challenges would also ground some practice and provide a way to collect member examples and compare different code strategies. Essentially, I'm going to be trying to think and find activities that foster engagement and allow the participants to have a stake in the ownership of the group.

Let's see what happens.

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