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Walking to WordCamp – #PressPause mini podcast series – #013

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Sadly this is the last of our mini-series of podcasts in the run up to WordCamp Europe. In one way that’s really sad… I’ve really enjoyed working with Micah from WPMU Dev. Hopefully in the future we can find other ways to collaborate. Another way to look at it is that the ending of this series means that WordCamp Europe is about to begin, and WordCamps is what this entire project has been about.

We’ve tried to bring you stories from a whole variety of WordPressers. Some of them have been funny, others, thought provoking, but the message has always been the same… attending WordCamps can be a great way to meet new people and reconnect with others. Sure, you could view WordCamp as an event about WordPress, the code, the plugins and the themes, but it’s so much more than that. At its heart WordPress is about people and the interactions that they have. Often those interactions are distributed, carried out in emails or Slack, and WordCamp is a chance for you to meet those people in person, face to face, to get to know them and see the whole of them, as they truly are, in real life.

So today we hear the wonderful story of Marcel Bootsman. It’s not like any other that we’ve featured thus far.

A while ago Marcel decided to walk to WordCamp, which on the face of it seems like a reasonable thing to do. Until you learn that Marcel does not live all that close. He’s not even in the same country! Marcel’s journey is long, very long… 500 miles long.

We hear how he came up with the idea of doing this, of how he’s raising money for DonateWC, a charity that could have been invented for this walk. DonateWC is helping get people to WordCamp, people who might no otherwise be able to attend.

We hear also about how Marcel has been committed to WordPress and WordCamp over the years as well as some of the highlights of his journey so far.

If you’re going to be attending WordCamp Europe in June 2019, make sure to seek out Marcel and head over to his Walk to WordCamp Europe website and donate to show your appreciation!

I hope that you got something useful out of this podcast mini-series. It’s been a great experience bringing the episodes to you.

We hope you enjoy the show, please do subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We’re always looking for feedback, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do reach out.

And remember… Together we can #PressForward 

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Podcast Transcript

Nathan Wrigley: 00:05 Hello. That PressPause listeners. Sadly, this is the last of our mini series of podcasts in the run up to WordCamp Europe in one way. That’s really sad. I’ve really enjoyed working with Micah from WPMU Dev and hopefully in the future we can find other ways to collaborate. Another way to look at it though is that the ending of this series means that WordCampEurope is just about to begin and WordCamps is what this entire project has been about.

Nathan Wrigley: 00:48 We’ve tried to bring you stories from a whole variety of WordPressers. Some of them have been funny, others thought provoking, but the message has always been the same. Attending WordCamps can be a great way to meet new people and reconnect with others. Sure. You could view WordCamp as an event about WordPress, the code, the plugins and the themes, but it’s so much more than that. At its heart. WordPress is about people and the interactions that they have. Often those interactions are distributed, carried out in emails or slack WordCamp is a chance for you to meet those people in person face to face, to get to know them and see the whole of them as they truly are in real life. But before we get to the end, we’ve got one more show to do, so let’s get on with it. This edition of PressPause is brought to you by Green Geeks. Green Geeks offers an awesome managed web hosting platform that’s built for speed, security and scalability whilst being environmentally friendly. Enjoy a better web hosting experience for your WordPress website with Green Geeks.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:14 Throughout this series we’ve talked about how fantastic WordCamps are. We’ve had stories from all walks of life and perspectives. Some have been funny, other serious, but they’ve all revolved around the amazing things that can happen during a WordCamp. Today though we have something different, unique. Today we hear about one man’s journey to a WordCamp, a long journey, a really long journey on foot.

Marcel Bootsman: 02:48 Uh, my name is Marcel Bootsman. I live in the Netherlands in a small town Berkel en Rodenrijs, which is near Rotterdam that most people might know as it being a big port. Uh, one of the big ports in the world. I got in touch with WordPress in 2009, uh, that was also the year that I founded my company, which is called nostromo. And, um, yeah, I immediately, well, fell in love with WordPress is a bit far, but I tested a few cms’s I wanted to use for my clients and WordPress, like you stood out of the rest, uh, ease of use and also documentation and ease of extending and changing and uh, yeah, that basically, uh, uh, put my mind to WordPress and, uh, that’s been now 10 years ago. It was actually four days ago. I had my 10 year anniversary of my company and uh, couldn’t really celebrate it because I’m walking on my own here in, uh, in Germany.

Marcel Bootsman: 03:48 Uh, yeah, that’s basically my story. Yeah, I believe it was 2010 that I, and for some reason thought that, hey, I’m using this free software and there’s all kinds of people working on this in their own time, uh, or sponsored by their companies of course. And I was like, it doesn’t feel right to just use it and make money of it. And I wanted to do something back as in contribute in any sort of form. So I was doing some googling and I saw that there was a Dutch, a WordPress community also, and they organized WordCamp, Netherlands. And that was actually my first WordCamp, uh, in 2010 what can Netherlands. I had to pull myself out of my comfort zone because I was used to working alone in my own office and of course go to customers and talk with them, but not, yeah, meet other people that are doing the same thing with WordPress.

Marcel Bootsman: 04:40 So I went to this WordCamp. I immediately felt welcome and I met a lot of great people, which I still know a right now and still meet up on meetups or WordCamps or somewhere in between when we just make appointments and talk with each other. That really all changed my career to say like that in, in, in the WordPress area because that launched a whole bunch of contributing things that I’ve done. I’ve got a, I’ve got a rather extended track record of doing, uh, contributions. Uh, it started out as a while translating, uh, which is what I still think is the, the has a really small, uh, it’s a really small step to start doing that and it’s really accessible for everybody. And Yeah, then you get to meet other people who do the translating, you get to meet the editors. And then in the end I got also a global, uh, translation editor for the Dutch language.

Marcel Bootsman: 05:36 Um, I helped out in the forums. Um, and then when I saw that there was another WordCamp Netherlands organized, uh, I was asked if I could help organize the, um, uh, the volunteers to be a volunteer manager. Uh, so I did that. I promoted between quotes to being the lead, the lead organizer forward come Netherlands 2016. Um, I helped organize WordCamp Europe, the first one in Leiden. That wasn’t 2013. So I was in the first team that, uh, that organized that I was a volunteer manager there also. And it was amazing because you meet all in Word Kept Netherlands, uh, community. I learned a lot of people already. I met a lot of people, sorry. And doing a European conference really well, gave me the opportunity to meet so many more people that I will still know now. And it’s, it’s just been a great ride until now and it still is.

Speaker 3: 06:31 Okay.

Nathan Wrigley: 06:32 So we can see that Marcel has a long and rich history helping out with the WordPress community and WordCamps in particular. You could describe him as keen. Marcel told us that he lives in the Netherlands, but he was not in the Netherlands when we spoke.

Marcel Bootsman: 06:50 Yeah, I am in the, in Wolfsburg in Germany. I got here by foot. So, uh, I walked here. I’ve been walking for 475 kilometers right now. Yeah, I’ve started in my hometown, which is Berkel en Rodenrijs near Rotterdam. And I really just, uh, well there was some family at home and of course my wife and children to say goodbye to me and I just walked out the front door and said, see you all in Germany. I’m walking to Berlin and a, that’s of course the location of a, of WordCamp Europe this year.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:23 So Marcel is walking from his own front door to WordCamp Europe. This is no mean feat. That’s 465 miles or 750 kilometers in total.

Marcel Bootsman: 07:40 Yeah, that sounds really crazy, but yes, I am. Yeah, I’m a bit further than halfway. Um, I had to, uh, to cancel a few stages because I had a, uh, a minor injury on my right leg, my ankle to be precise, which at the end did not prove to be an injury, but just an overloading of my ankle, which is totally fine right now. So I had to skip a few stages. Uh, so I’m probably going to be walking 700 kilometers in total, uh, because I had done a few at one stage by train and I believe two stages. I, I canceled them after about 10 kilometers and all the rest. I uh, I walked completely and uh, I think that I’m going to walk all the rest that’s left to, I’ve got nine stages left and a in a bit more days. I got 11 days, so I’ve got to resting days also in between. And um, yeah, I’m totally confident that I’m a, that I’m going to make it. Yeah. I arrive on the 19th, the 19th, which is the day before contributor day. I’m going to be accompanied by Casper Hubinger who is uh, providing the, the last sleep over place before I, uh, I get to the venue is for WordCamp Europe. Do I have a half day and a night to recover of that last few stages and then start WordCamp Europe.

Nathan Wrigley: 08:55 I’m sure that we all like walking to some extent, but this is a huge walk. And as we’ve heard, it’s had a physical toll. So what’s the point of doing this? Is it a personal journey or perhaps it’s raising money for a good cause.

Marcel Bootsman: 09:12 It’s actually both. I got the idea when I was, when I was probably, yeah, it was also a year back also on the 4th of June when I had this idea and I cannot really put my finger on what caused the idea to happen in my head. Uh, but we’ve done all preparations for going to a WordCamp Europe in Belgrade. Uh, we made all travel arrangements, booked the hotel and stuff, and then I got the idea, okay, maybe I could walk to the next edition of WordCamp Europe, not know where it would be because that’s announced at the end of a WordCamp Europe. And my wife was like looking at me as if I was crazy.

Marcel Bootsman: 09:51 And after a few minutes she said, well, that might be a cool idea. And um, uh, we, we can plan something around it and uh, you can start arranging that. So then after a few days, I got a, I got an injured knee just out of nothing, and I couldn’t, I couldn’t move for, for one and a half weeks. And I got antibiotics and we had to cancel our trip to Belgrade, which was really sad. And then there was announced that the next location for work computer would be what would be in Berlin. Thought, okay, that’s, that’s not very far. Could have been in Rome or in Greece or wherever. And this is a 700 and so kilometers. And I can do that. And I started planning and also think about why I would do it. And one of the arguments that I’m doing it is to, to test myself to see what I am capable of and what my body is capable of.

Marcel Bootsman: 10:41 And also because I saw that it was getting some attention in the WordPress community, I thought, okay, well maybe I should just use this attention to do something more and raise money for something I didn’t yet know what for. And quickly the foundation DonateWC came to mind, which is a foundation that helps people get to WordCamps. Uh, and contribute to WordPress when they do not have the financial means to do so. Uh, a perfect goal for me to start raising money for. Yeah. DonateWC is a, is a foundation which I am not affiliated with in any way. And they, uh, accept proposals from people want to go to a WordCamp, preferably a local one. But then you might also need to go travel and book a hotel. And there are people in, in, in the WordPress community worldwide that are not as financially strong as others, and they do not have a company that backs them up.

Marcel Bootsman: 11:38 So they’d have to pay everything from, from their own wallet. And well, sometimes that’s not enough. And so they can’t come to a WordCamp. And it’s, it’s not just for people who want to attend. Uh, it’s really for people who want to contribute. So give a presentation or organize, uh, be a volunteer. Uh, you have to really contribute to the WordPress project and in the form of doing something for a WordCamp. Well, then the, the, this mission is, uh, being, uh, judged and select it. And then people get their, uh, their refunds for their travel costs.

Nathan Wrigley: 12:11 What a perfect fit? Marcel is walking to WordCamp whilst raising money for DonateWC a charity helping to offset the cost of getting people to WordCamps. I asked Marcel if he’d had any highlights thus far on the trip that you’d like to share.

Marcel Bootsman: 12:31 I’m pleased with everything I’m doing right now. I meet all kinds of new people, make new friends, also meet people that are, uh, that I already knew in the WordPress community and they offered me a place to sleep. Uh, I’ve seen amazing things. Uh, you can see though in my blogs and in my, um, in the, in the, uh, the photos I took a, but it’s just you’re walking, I’m walking 700 plus kilometers and I don’t see any highways. So I see a lot of the countryside, both in the Netherlands and in Germany that you normally wouldn’t see if you, if you go by car to Berlin for instance, or by train, you just, well, you, you wish through the country, you’re in Berlin and you get to notice what’s all around you. And there’s so many beautiful things, nature and a silence. And sometimes I just hear birds and I don’t see any people for two, three hours.

Marcel Bootsman: 13:22 And it’s, uh, it’s, it’s amazing. And one of the best things that happened so far was I was going to Bad Bentheim, which was the first city in Germany, uh, after the the border. And my family came and visited me there and it was really great to see them again after one week of walking. I really increased my, my pace in the last few kilometers because I really, really wanted to see them. And my wife sent me a message like, are you running because you’re going, you’re going so fast. Because we had yes, trekking on. And I was like, I’m not running, but I’m going fast because I really want to see you and a route. I had a couple of more surprises. My parents came to visit me in Hanover. Uh, they didn’t, uh, they didn’t say that they were going to do that, so that was a nice surprise. And now here in Wolfsburg, uh, I had two friends coming as a surprise yesterday. And we had dinner. And, um, yeah, that’s also a great thing that, that you get to a lot of motivation about yeah. This, that people start visiting you and to show their support.

Nathan Wrigley: 14:23 So we’ve learned that Marcel is deeply committed to word press and WordCamps. I wondered if he had a favorite story out of all the events that he’s ever attended.

Marcel Bootsman: 14:35 It was my, uh, my first WordCamp Netherlands. And, um, what I basically told her at the, uh, at the start of the, uh, interview that when I got there, I really had to pull myself in and get out of my bubble. And, uh, I walked in and I also followed a few people on Twitter already and I was back. I walked in and there was this tall guy, a big guy called Remkus de Vries and you might heard of the name or even know him. And he saw me and he said, hey, nostromo, that was my company name and also my Twitter name, which I’ve changed to just my personal name now that kind of broke the ice as we say. And, um, made me feel welcome and he introduced me to a few people and well then the whole WordPress contributing things started rolling.

Nathan Wrigley: 15:21 I wanted to make sure that we returned to the charity that Marcel has chosen. Donate WC.

Marcel Bootsman: 15:29 Yes, definitely. I don’t know how long it will stay live, but uh, maybe there is other people’s, there are going to be inspired to do this and maybe they could reuse the URL or I can add another year or you know, all the WordPress is really flexible in turning one single site into a multisite. So there’s all kinds of possibilities there. Um, the website is walktowc.eu and um, there’s a, a nice menu up there with a big donate button and you can read all about my, my blogs in the news section. You can see my route and uh, where I am on the map. Well as soon as I finished, I am, I’m, I’m almost, I’m also giving a presentation on a, on WordCamp Europe on the, on Saturday about this trip and I will announce the, uh, while the final amount of money that has been donated, um, which of course is not, it’s not going to be closed then because if people are in the audience and they still want to donate, that’s of course very welcome. But I just want to announce the final, the sort of subtotal of all donations on stage.

Nathan Wrigley: 16:37 So there you go. WordCamps are great. There’s lots to do, lots to see friends to make and reconnect with. You’ve just got to take the first step and buy your tickets. I know that this series has referred to time and again to WordCamp Europe, but that’s not important. It was just the WordCamp that was around the corner when this series was created. So no matter when you listen to this, there’ll be another WordCamp just around the corner, perhaps closer to home than you think. So go search one out, plan to go and see what happens. The PressForward podcast is a production of WP&UP. This mini series is a collaborative efforts by WPMU Dev and WP&UP. Micah Dailey, and me, Nathan Wrigley produced this episode and Micah created the original score. A special thanks to Marcel today for chatting with me and thanks to you for listening and remember that we can press forward.

Nathan Wrigley