As we work every day on our own projects, with our own deadlines and priorities, it is often too easy to forget about the entire community of others using Drupal in much the same way. When we're working with Drupal in our various capacities, there is no shortage of methods to interact with the community and contribute back, but those aren't the focus of this post.
As we regularly interact with the Drupal community online, we often don't realize how we perceive that community of faceless usernames and issue responses. Without direct interaction with others in the community we can all forget about the people behind the posts. DrupalCon New Orleans was my wake up call to this.
Even aside from the knowledge shared from the great sessions, the code sprints and the awesome parties, the most positive gain I came away from DrupalCon New Orleans with was this reinvigorated respect for the community. By getting to meet face-to-face with the people I've worked with remotely I was able to remember that personal connection that's so often lost in the issue queues and chat messages. After being reminded that we're all in this together and working toward the same goals, my interest in the community efforts and moving Drupal forward as a whole have been reignited!
The DrupalCons are great for this exposure to the community because of the large turnout and popularity, but they're not the only opportunities for this exposure. In many ways the smaller Drupal camps and meet-ups are an even better opportunity because of the smaller and more personal interactions they afford. With that in mind, I strongly encourage everyone to explore their opportunities to join community events whether that be attending the next DrupalCon, joining in a nearby (or even not so nearby) Drupal Camp, or dropping in on the next local meet-up. If you haven't had the opportunity to join in the community recently, you may be surprised by the excitement and motivation that doing so can instill.