This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the 2009 New England User Group Leadership Summit. Hosted by Microsoft and O'Reilly Media it was an event dedicated to helping user group leaders connect, share ideas and experiences. It had nothing to do with the technologies these folks are usually discussing. Rather, we spent time talking about how to build community, publicize events, manage event logistics and things of that nature. Attendees came from all over the northeast - primarily New England but there were also folks from Pennsylvania and New York (which is not part of New England for you folks who don't know better).
The summit was held at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center (a.k.a. the N.E.R.D. center) in Cambridge, MA. This was a really groovy facility with excellent meeting spaces.
A wiki was set up for all the session notes, available at http://neugsummit2009.pbworks.com/FrontPage/ Take a look. Even if you're not involved in a technical user group many of the topics relate to any community group. I was commenting to Chris Bowen that one reason I was really happy to have attended was in addition to what I learned which I will be able to apply to my involvement in the VT.NET user group much of what we discussed applies to my other community involvement, the Burlington Irish Heritage Festival.
One of the attendees, Rachel Ford James, took lots of photos and has made them available on Flickr. She really took some stunning photos that captured the spirit of the day. As you view the photos you may wonder why there are a number of shots with mixers that appear to be smoking. There was a break between sessions which was conducted as a team building exercise where groups of attendees selected ingredients for an impromtu ice cream flavor. The ice cream was made using mixers and liquid nitrogen. It was great entertainment with lots of noise, visuals and (of course) taste. Being from the land of Ben & Jerry's, though, I was terribly jaded about the results.
Many thanks to O'Reilly and Microsoft for hosting this event.