We will have vegan food at SoCraTes Day Linz 2016. OK, we will probably have a non-vegan option at some of the meals, but the default is vegan. This was one of the first things I said to our caterer and to a sponsor who might bring breakfast.
People who know me know that I eat - and even love - meat. So why was vegan catering so important to me?
...Inclusive to the Largest Number of Contributors
Our code of conduct says:
A primary goal of SoCraTes Day Linz is to be inclusive to the largest number of contributors, with the most varied and diverse backgrounds possible. SoCraTes Day Linz Code of Conduct
I always wanted to create a conference where everybody can come and where everybody feels welcome. We tried this with Advance IT (which we had to cancel) and we are trying it here. This means we have to be very careful about not giving people a reason not to come.
People come to a conference because of what they can learn, because of what they can share, and because of the connections to other people they can make. I think we have that covered: The other SoCraTes conferences around the world are great - even awesome - in all three respects, and we hope (and give our best) to bring this spirit to Linz.
So, I think that we can attract a lot of developers, but I also think that some things could prevent certain people - especially people from groups underrepresented in technology - from coming. And I want to avoid those things…
SoCraTes is a great learning experience. We want people to share what they know and learn from others. People will only share and be open to conversations when they feel safe.
This is why we have our code of conduct and why we communicate it regularily through multiple channels.
We were already criticised because we do not define unwanted behaviour clearly enough, but I really want to keep the positive tone in our CoC. But this does not mean that we will tolerate harassment or sexualized content. If anyone thinks that there is room for interpretation in “Be welcoming, friendly, and patient.” or that they can test the boundaries, we will happily expel them from the conference.
Almost everyone in our tartet group would probably be happy with a typical Austrian “Wiener Schnitzel” or “Schweinsbraten” - and even accept fast food. But there are people who cannot or do not want to eat meat for several reasons. Others want to eat healthy food or high quality food. And we do not want to exclude them from the conference.
Luckily for us, there is a great restaurant at our venue, and they will cook really good vegan food for us. We will have a self-service buffet for lunch and dinner at the restaurant. We will also have a vegan breakfast.
Almost everyone in our tartet group would probably be OK if we had the conference in German. But there are some people in Linz for whom German is not their first Language. And maybe some people from other countries want to come. And we do not want to exclude them from the conference.
So the main language (the greeting, facilitation and online communication) of the conference will be English. If you host a session, you can have the session in German if there are only native speakers in the audience. But we kindly ask you to switch to English if any visitor of your session would prefer English.
Almost everyone in our tartet group would probably be OK with any venue in Linz (because I guess most of our participants will be from Linz). But it would also be great if we had some visitors from farther away. And we want to make it easy for them to come.
So we chose a venue near Linz Hauptbahnhof. The bus from Linz Airport and buses from Graz and Prag stop right next to the venue. There are fast train connections from Vienna, Salzburg, Munich and Nuremberg. Hotels are in walking distance or can be easily reached by tram or bus. If you come by train from Vienna or Salzburg, you might even not need a hotel at all (but then it will be a long day).
Our venue, Wissensturm, has great accessibility features. It was planned with accessibility in mind and with the help of handicapped people. You can find out more here (in German): Wissensturm Linz - Barrierefreiheit.
What Else Can We Do?
So, what else can we do to make sure we are “inclusive to the largest number of contributors”? Please send me your suggestions.
P.S.: The ticket sale for SoCraTes Day Linz 2016 starts on August 24th, 2016, 09:00 am. Grab your ticket at socrates-conference.at. To stay in touch follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook - there we will remind you about the start of the ticket sale, so you don’t miss it.