Walking into a tech meet up as an outsider can be quite intimidating. Everywhere you look around the typically dimly lighted, exposed brick, craft beer-ed location is usually filled with people talking about code and startups. It can seem like a difficult scene to crack, one that’s due perhaps for some sort of shake-up.
And so, as a “non-tech” person, I decided to check it out myself.
On a recent late April afternoon, I walked into Cobble Hill’s 61 Local, not knowing what to expect from a full-on tech event. I found tons of the aforementioned hip tech types swarming the bar with their laptops and various charging cords, where they’d been working while sipping beers during the day.
As the sun set and the drinks poured, Brooklyn JS began to wind into quite the party. The evening started out with the organizers going over the JSConf, which stresses that: “JSConf is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices,” along with zero tolerance for harassment or sexual language and imagery. This way, the meet up remains a fun, safe environment for all.
Even as an outsider with little (no) coding background, I thoroughly enjoyed JS’s night of speakers featuring topics such as GIFs and designer collaboration.
“The core of a BrooklynJS event consists of five lightning talks of ten minutes each, preceded by an intro in which the emcees give some context for the event,” according to their site. And to avoid any talk fatigues, the night is interspersed by tech jokes and crowd participation. We even got an acapella group named The Four Fives featuring co-founder Schmidt, which performed between talks.
Despite its growing size and popularity, BrooklynJS has managed to keep its authenticity thanks to the effort and dedication of its volunteer staff.
One of the organization’s most important pillars consists of their radical transparency. BK JS keeps an online document of all spending and budgets for all to see where the money is going and coming from.
“My favorite part of BrooklynJS are the people, they are all wonderful,” Greenaway gushes. “It’s really a great crowd.”
On a similar note: frequent JS attendee Carly Susman, a creative professional, describes the event as a fun, rewarding way to meet people in the inclusive community. “If you just code for fun, or in your free time like I do, you’re just as welcome as the developers who work in software full time,” she says.
“Software development in any capacity can be very intimidating to people, so the fact that a community like this one exists makes it more approachable.”