Kohacon18 : Portland Oregon

As always this was the best Kohacon yet, I will write up a more technical post over on the work site but I wanted to write up a more personal one over here. Kohacons are different to any other conferences I have attended, it feels less like a conference and more like a reunion. One of the other attendees remarked that there was a certain something that he couldn’t put his finger on. I replied that I thought it was whanaungatanga.  And I really think that is what it is. The conference has a really great gender balance, and there were attendees from Pakistan, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Kenya, Guyana, Mexico, France, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and of course USA. But despite our many differences, new friendships were quickly made and old friendships renewed. Before the conference had even started people who had never met each other before drove off to look at Mt St Helens together. Others went to the zoo, others to the beach. Every night communal meals were organised, and over breakfast tales shared of the night before. One of the traditions we have is a day between the conference proper and the hackfest after where we all do something together. This year there were walking tours, jet boat rides, tours of Powells bookshop and tours of the Japanese gardens.  Another of our  tradition is sharing treats from all around the world at the hackfest.
This eating, drinking and talking together is the best part of the conference, it builds bonds that, even when we return home and are 1000s of kilometres apart, are still strong. When people ask how  we manage to coordinate development across language and cultural differences, spending time kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) is how. Spending the time to whakawhanaungatanga with each other might not seem important at first glance, but it is what has kept the project strong and getting stronger for 18 years now. If anyone ever says there’s no time for mihimihi or whakawhanuangatanga, I think they are missing out, and are weakening whatever they are endeavouring to achieve

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