One of the things I found out about at Tuesday’s MSDN Northeast Roadshow stop in Augusta is the first New England GiveCamp, June 11-13 at Microsoft’s Northeast Research and Development center in Cambridge, MA.
A GiveCamp is basically a gathering of developers, DBAs, project managers, designers and other IT folks in a given place, to donate their time and skills to charitable projects.
In the case of the New England GiveCamp, typical projects include upgrading Access databases, or converting Excel spreadsheets to Access; integrating open-source tools, such as Joomla, Drupal and Django, into existing Web sites; adding various gizmos to and tuning up existing Web sites; and several requests to spruce up the look of various types of collateral.
I believe the biggest mistake you could make in deciding whether to participate is thinking that you don’t have the kind of skills needed. From what’s been said at the GiveCamp’s Web site, there’s going to be plenty to do, whether you’re Linus Torvalds or Linus Van Pelt.
I think this goes doubly for graphic designers. Trust me, if you are an artistic person, no matter how little you think of your work, your worst effort is 10 times better than the best design ever produced by a programmer. I am speaking from extensive personal experience here. We’re the people who gave the Internet Comic Sans, animated GIFs and the <marquee> tag, remember. Please, save us from ourselves.
As the Northeast GiveCamp put it, “If you have the passion, we’ll find a place for you.”
In addition to the technical work on site, there are a myriad other volunteer opportunities both before and during the event, including registration, sponsor solicitation, organizing the development teams and matching them to non-profit organizations, handling logistics for food and snacks, and others we’ll discover along this journey!
And, of course, businesses can help, too. The GiveCamp says they’re not so much interested in money as they are services: Donation of meals and promotional items (mugs / T-shirts) are specifically mentioned.
Microsoft will make sure you get fed during the event. They will also provide crash space in NERD, provided you bring your own sleeping bag / air mattress; and they have showers on site (BYO toiletries). If you don’t like that idea, NERD is very near the Kendall / MIT MBTA station.
The only specific demands the GiveCamp has are, if you’re providing technical help to a project, commit to doing the entire weekend; and bring your own laptop (read: any needed software, such as Visual Studio / Dreamweaver, too; how you’ll tackle the project to which you have been assigned will be determined by a conference call before the event).
If you can’t commit to the whole weekend, the GiveCamp could still use your help, and will work within your schedule.
I really do hope you consider participating. Register at the GiveCamp’s EventBrite page.
Look at it as giving back, or paying forward; either way, you’ll help people who need the help, and meet people who can help you, in turn.
All links in this post on delicious: http://delicious.com/dougvdotcom/designers-and-developers-donate-your-time-talent-at-new-england-give-camp-june-11-13-2010