Category Archives: WordPress Stuff


A Hackathon with Local Social Impact

WPABQ Hackthon

In early February, the Albuquerque WordPress Meetup group (WPABQ) organized a hackathon at a local coworking space called TechLove to create some websites for local non-profits. In the past, WPABQ hackathons have included Sky Garden (now Flow), Fairfield Farms, Cathryn McGill (performing artist). This time WPABQ worked with ABQ Zine Fest, Nano Network of New Mexico, and Querencia Green.


Typically our groups work on self-hosted sites, but, Querencia Green, had an existing site, so we challenged the team to use instead of exporting to self-hosted. The Querencia team members took the challenge as you can see on their site. Even though I love all the projects, I admit I have a special affinity for Querencia since they are on

ABQ Zine Fest, another fantastic participant, had used Blogger for some time, and the team brought everything over to a self-hosted WordPress site on GoDaddy. She was a bit nervous about coming over to WordPress, but we told her it’s what the cool kids are using :)

Nano Network of New Mexico had a really large project scope, but the selection team really liked the idea behind the project. The team brought their project into scope for the time we had available and gave them a great site. As of this writing this site isn’t live yet since it has to go through an approval process with the NNNM board.


Hackathons can look different depending on the scene and the group making it happen so I will take a moment before I get too far ahead of myself to explain what a Hackathon means in this context.

A gathering of talented designers, developers, content writers, marketers to create a website in a very short period for a pre-selected organization. The organizations selected depend on specific criteria pre-determined by the hackathon organizers.

The Goal

Mostly the goal is to have fun and to create something nice. Specifically, the goal is to pool local design, developer, publisher/content writer resources and work as a team to make a live website; a functioning, appealing, usable website for pre-selected local groups.

The Purpose

The way I see it, there are two main purposes behind the WPABQ meetup hackathons.

1. Teamwork: Many web professionals work from home and rarely work in a team environment to produce websites. A hackathon gives us the opportunity to experience the sort of teamwork that is part of a web project. It forces us (in a good way) to come out of our comfort zones to brainstorm, plan, prepare, and complete a project with other people we are not accustomed to working with.

2. Outreach: Since community is the main focus of this meetup group, it is natural for us to periodically give back to the community. We are always giving to each other, learning, helping and at a hackathon we give back to organizations that are not connected with the WordPress community. The best way we can give back is to use our talents to create a WordPress website.

It may seem that this second reason is really the first, but it’s not. Since this is a community, the focus is on the community effort that is necessary to produce the work for the projects we select. For anyone wondering how we organize our hackathons here are some basics. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.

Click on page 2 for the specifics on schedule, process, and lessons learned.

Pull Quotes

Here is my fascinating quote.

You can always learn something new. I just found out that you can use pull quotes with some WordPress themes. They go a little bit like so:

This should align to the side and have text wrapped around it.

How fun is that?

WordCamp Albuquerque for Kids

WordCamp AlbuquerqueThere is nothing quite so amazing, fun, and inspiring (I could think of more adjectives, but I will leave it at that for now) as watching a classroom of children get excited about WordPress.  The two hours that Sean Wells and I spent with our group of young students at the WordCamp kid’s session flew by.

For those who are wondering:

WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other. WordCamps are open to and users alike.

When we first visualized a WordCamp in Albuquerque it was an absolute no-brainer that we would have a kid session.  WordCamp Phoenix had just had a very successful session for kids and as a homeschool mom, it didn’t make any sense to not include it in our event.   I didn’t know what to expect going into the session except for the couple of email conversations I had with Abbie Sanderson about the session she taught in Phoenix.  We were prepared for pretty much anything, open to whatever the kids had to go over.

We started out the session with a few questions for the kids, asking them to tell us their names and what they wanted to do with a website or how they were going to use their website.   I was surprised at how entrepreneurial the group was, a boy who is going to rent his toys out on his website and a girl who is making fancy cakes and selling them.

Here is a list of what we covered:

  • The layout of the Dashboard
  • How to set privacy settings (this was more for the parents than the kids)
  • How to search for a theme and activate it
  • How to customize Twenty Eleven (background and headers)
  • How to add widgets, move them, and how to find them when you theme loses them from the sidebar
  • How to add a new post and the difference between posts and pages
After each topic we paused to help everyone with any issues and to give the kids time to work with the new concept.



Teaching WordPress to my Kids

My kids and I had our first WordPress learning session this morning.  I was inspired by a presentation at WordCamp Phoenix lead by Abbie Sanderson.  We’re also having a Kids and WordPress session at our upcoming WordCamp, so what better way to work through the process but with my own pliable children, right?

Fortunately, we’re blessed with many laptops so my two older kids both sat down with a workable laptop and a fresh install of WordPress that I installed for them in advance (no for my kids, thank you very much, they have their own domain and a mama with server space).

As a side note, and an insight to my kid’s personalities: my 12 year old son loves the default WP 2011 theme, my 10 year old daughter doesn’t.  He thinks it’s cool, she thinks it’s ugly.  Sorry WP, but you aren’t getting the 10 year old demo here :D.

My kids work better if I’m more flexible and they seemed to be more interested in how their site looks, so we started with the Appearance tab on the Dashboard.  I showed them how the custom header works in the new 2011 theme.  They uploaded pictures to be used as their defualt header and played with the customizable background colors.  Working with the built-in theme options was really enjoyable for them.  I could have left it at that, but then I wouldn’t be a self-respecting homeschool mom (or annoying mom, depending on who you ask).

I had my kids head on over to Pages to create an About Me page.  They each uploaded a picture, aligned it however they wanted and used all the fields for images: title, alt, and caption.  Then they typed a few words about themselves.  That was the part they thought was annoying, poor things.

Later on in the day, my kids were dying to get back at it and do some more work on her new blog.  A future WP addict in the making!

The Road to WordCamp Albuquerque

So when I asked Jenifer De La Garza to help me plan a WordCamp I know it would be a lot of work, but I don’t think I really really knew how much.  Or maybe I did and I just was pretending not to.  Well, I am having a blast planning and I am so excited for September.

Planning a WordCamp has been a long time in the making here in Albuquerque.  At least in my mind.  For a couple of years I have pondered it, wishing I had the guts to do it.  I finally found a cohort and she actually agreed. Whew!

For future reference I am going to detail our process here.  Obviously we are well on our way, 8 weeks out, but up until now we have been mostly concentrating on getting the venue squared away.

We really agonized over a few venues, weighing issues like cost, suitability for WordCamp, ease of access, and lodging.  In the end cost won out, but not necessarily just because of a cheaper price.  The Sheraton really came through and gave us a lot of stuff for the venue.

So here is a list of stuff to date:

Make contact with WC Central

WC Central was unfortunately going through some staffing changes when we initially contacted them about doing our event so it took months before we finally heard back from them. But once we did the communication back and forth was easy and super helpful. When we first saw out city in the planning list on the WC website I about cried.

Get budget, date, and venue approved

This process could fill a book.  Date was easy.  Jenifer said to me, “So, when do we want to have this thing?” We threw around some dates and done!

In contrast, the anxiety involved in settling on the RIGHT venue is pretty intense.  And we couldn’t get on the WC schedule until we booked the venue.  And the issues.  Size, breakouts space, whether outside food was allowed or not, wifi, bandwidth… anyway, it is done now thankfully.

Budget was not so bad.  Our first crack at the budget was laughable.  This was before we made contact with WordCamp.  After we saw some sample budgets that other WordCamps posted on their websites it got easier. Now our budget is pretty decent and WC Central has some templates to use as starting points.

Get organization team together

We have a beautiful group of meetup members.  From this group came a bunch of fabulous and very helpful people.

Weekly meetings to keep everyone on track

We started out meeting via phone weekly.  I really don’t enjoy phone conferences.  With one or two people it is ok, but with 5-10?  Impossible, in my opinion.  So we started meeting at Flying Star.  I will never forget our first meeting n their meeting rooms.  The air conditioning was broken, I ordered this delicious East Indian style soup and had a cup of yummy coffee.  I ate half the bowl and barely touched the coffee.  But they gave it to us for free so I can’t complain too much.  Our second meeting there was much better.

Some people may think weekly meetings a bit much, but the thing is, not everyone shows at every meeting, so in order to keep everyone on track we really need the weeklies.

Create lists of potential sponsors

ABQWC is committed to a high percentage of local sponsorship and it is pretty cool how people are coming together.  It would be so cool if a WordCamp could be funded exclusively by individual small dollar amount sponsors.  Our lowest level is $150.

Create lists of potential attendees

Really, this is turning out to be as simple as creating a buzz through Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. So doing the social thing, groups, groups, and more groups.

Contact potential speakers

We are still in the midst of this process, but it is surprisingly simple to find people who are not afraid to speak for 50 minutes on their favorite topic.