BarCampBankSeattle = awesome

I attended a very cool gathering this past weekend. It was called BarCampBankSeattle organized by Jesse Robbins and Benjamin Black. I caught wind of this two-day event through the credit union blog-o-sphere. I have been to countless design, marketing and credit union conferences, but nothing like this.

A BarCamp is a loosely organized event where the folks that show up tape topics on a white board and have energized discussions about things they know about or are interested in. If you are in a session and you are not contributing to it or do not find it interesting, you are free to get up and move to a concurrent session.

Having never attended something like this, it's a very odd experience to wrap your mind around in advance. It was only three days before the event that Jesse secured a venue large enough to handle the growing list of attendees! It was an amazing remodelled old building in downtown Seattle. We were using the space of a stealth-mode Internet start-up. Here are some photos on Flickr to give you a feel. About 35 people attended from all over the US and Canada.

I joked about it at the conference, but I didn't really know what to tell the border guard. I could have gone the route of saying, "I'm going to an unconference and I don't know if I'm presenting or just attending." As I wasn't looking for a cavity search, I went with, "I'm attending a banking and technology conference."

I set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. and drove down alone to Seattle for the 8 a.m. start. I had physically met only one attendee in advance—Gene Blishen from Mount Lehman Credit Union. However, I had virtually met many of these people through reading and commenting on their blogs. This was fascinating to me. I felt like I knew many of these people personally and could immediately have an informed conversation with them.

It's amazing what happens when like-minded people get together to discuss topics they are passionate about. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with so many people that I "know" through their blog writing. And since I now know them even better, I have taken the liberty to fill in their new middle names and give their blogs a further plug. All essential reading for those that care about the credit union movement.

  1. Denise "Marketing is dead" Wymore
  2. Trey "You are right in front of me, but could we please use Twitter instead?" Reeme
  3. Wiliam "That sounds great, but I'm going to need you to change everything" Azaroff
  4. Jesse "Don't *$&# with me or I will crush your credit union" Robbins
  5. Brent "I hate to blog" Dixon
  6. Gene "Want to see my cooperative principles tattoo?" Blishen 
  7. Jim "Can we talk about something other than credit unions" Bruene  
  8. Robbie "I know way too much about my CUs financial statements" Wright
  9. Shari "Is it hot in here or am I just nine-months pregnant?" Storm
  10. Jason "Facebook is all about the hook-up" Knight

I was only able to attend the Saturday session since I had family commitments on Sunday. What a day it was. I'm sure Sunday was just as great. After a lively dinner, I hopped in the car and was home by midnight. The drive gave me a chance to listen to 8 of my 300+ unlistened-to-podcast episodes!

Just so this post doesn't get too long, I'll do another to tell you what I learned on my one day in Seattle.

Tim