Two weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of making a trip to Atlanta to help celebrate Atlanta PHP's 100th meeting. Hosting 100 meetings is a huge achievement! The group is as active and vibrant as ever. We had a great time at meeting, which included a cookout (thanks for the veggie burgers, Chris!), drinks, and door prizes. I was honored that they asked me to give a talk on Technical Debt, which you can see here. Many high fives were given all around.
During the meeting, one of the organizers named Kevin Roberts gave a brief history of the group and where it came from. It was very interesting to see its ups and downs, and various moving around of venues and organizers because of changing circumstances. The group has gone from just a few people meeting in someone's house many years ago, to a regular turnout of 40-50 people, and branded merchandise. I know some of you are on various journeys with your own user groups, and if you're struggling to grow the group or get the word out, these guys are the ones you need to talk to!
Currently the group has found a home in a local co-working space called Strongbox West. Spaces like these are popping up everywhere, so if you're trying to start a group, or grow the one that is already in your area, this might be a great solution for you. Many times they are very accommodating to user groups, and can serve as a regular, stable home for your meetings. Consistency is really the key, and having one location that people can count on and become comfortable with is a big step toward getting them to come out on a regular basis.
Anyone who says that PHP is dead, or that exciting things aren't going on have obviously not been to a user group meeting like the Atlanta PHP group. There are so many people working on cool projects, and the group is such a cohesive unit, it makes me very hopeful for the future of the industry. These guys go above and beyond their normal 9-to-5 day job and really make awesome things happen. They are one of the reasons we love the PHP community.