Carrying the Torch

I often reflect on why I moved to NYC. There were a multitude of reasons. But it was a particularly memorable evening that ultimately convinced me to take the leap.

I flew to NYC for a weekend in June of 2015 to attend CSS Conf  a super nerdy and niche conference for front-end engineers. It was a small and intimate single-track conference. I had a great time and got to meet front-end heroes like Chris Coyier and Sarah DrasnerAndrey Sitnik even gave an early live demo of PostCSS, a tool for transforming CSS with JavaScript. The idea felt a bit wild and futuristic at the time, but fast forward eight years and his library is part of almost every modern front-end toolchain on earth.

On Saturday night, CSS Conf happened to coincide with a monthly JavaScript meetup in Brooklyn called BrooklynJS. Conference attendees were invited to join for an afterparty at a bar in Gowanus. I was excited to attend because I hadn’t been to Brooklyn before and I’d heard so much about it. I hopped on the R train in search of new terrain.

A vintage BrooklynJS drink ticket, circa 2015.
A vintage BrooklynJS drink ticket, circa 2015.

When I arrived, I immediately realized this wasn’t your typical stale tech event. The neighborhood had an industrial-chic charm and the venue felt super creative. Each attendee was given a laser-etched plexiglass drink ticket and told “JavaScript karaoke” would begin soon.

JavaScript… … karaoke?

Yes, indeed.

For the next few hours we sang songs about variables, prototypes, arrays, transpilers, and everything in between. It was nerdy and it was great.

I’ve been to a lot of cities and JavaScript karaoke is not something that happens in every city. Or any city, rather. I knew this place was special. Thank you, Jed!

I left thinking, “how could I NOT live here?” And so I did!

Heading into 2023, the one thing I can’t stop thinking about is community. How powerful it is, how much care and patience it takes to create, and how quickly it can oscillate between feeling fragile and unbreakably strong.

To me, creating community is one of the most important problems we can solve, but it’s a scary one because I don’t think the solution involves writing more code.

If community is something that has been on your mind, I’d love to hear from you. It’s up to each of us to carry the torch.

Happy new year : )