The Community Platform Engineering F2F 2023 Experience – Part I – Fedora Magazine

20 Mar 2023 – 23 Mar 2023

Barcelona, Spain

Intro

The Community Platform Engineering team is a Red Hat-sponsored team dedicated to the Fedora Project and CentOS Project that contributes to developing limited-scoped projects called initiatives, maintaining the community infrastructure, and helping manage releases of our offerings. As a remote-only team, the members were unable to get many opportunities to strategize the next big thing as a team and to bond with their fellow teammates beyond the scope of the designated work. Owing to the fact that the last team face-to-face meeting took place in Waterford City, Ireland in 2019, it became necessary for the team to meet up again when the travel restrictions started loosening up. After all, the popular saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies to everyone — even to community members and teammates, right?

Barcelona, Spain was selected as the destination for the team face-to-face meeting and the duration was picked to be from 20th March 2023 to 23rd March 2023. As this was going to be one of the first times that people started embarking on travels again after a long spell of inactivity during COVID-19, the management made sure to begin the travel planning and event management well in advance to account for everyone in the team. This was no small feat to achieve considering the fact that the team had grown significantly since the last team face-to-face meeting; both in terms of member counts and scope diversity. The common accommodation point was chosen to be Hotel Abba Balmoral, Barcelona for the entire team, which is located at the very heart of the city and around a walking distance from the nearest Red Hat office.

Day 0

Whilst a few team members flew into Barcelona on Sunday, many flew in throughout the day and took a cab to the hotel on Monday. As nothing was planned on the agenda for the day, it was spent by the teammates mostly getting to know each other, snacking on regional delicacies, and resting after the long flights people had gone through to get here. It was surprising to see just how many team members were getting to meet each other for the first time here and could not before, either because they were new to the team or were working on greatly different things. Some members decided to recce the Red Hat office located close by to the hotel at Travessera de Garcia, Barcelona, and snacking joints while others decided to rest up during the afternoon before heading together to the planned dinner at 1930 in a local Indian restaurant.

With the evening finding its way into the day, the team united at the hotel lobby at 1900 and started heading over to the authentic Indian restaurant called Bar Bar, which was again a walking distance from the hotel. Being a cuisine that most of the teammates did not try previously, Akashdeep Dhar volunteered to guide folks through the menu – suggesting delicacies to try (or avoid) based on their preferences of flavor. For a team consisting of members hailing from across a variety of time zones and countries, having food and sharing anecdotes was indeed a magically unifying experience. After the dinner got over, some people stayed back to click pictures with the friends they made, some headed off for some more snacks in a nearby cafe and the remaining folks returned back to the hotel to get some much-needed respite.

Day 1

After the team had a joint breakfast from around 0700 to 0900, the members started heading off to the office in small groups to start off with the first (official) day of the event. Once all members settled down in a meeting room, the face-to-face meeting started off with the opening delivered by Stefan Mattejiet, following which a fun session was conducted to understand how well the members know each other by drawing each other’s faces. The next session was conducted by Akashdeep Dhar where he talked about the importance of mentorship within the team as well as in the community and organized an activity where the team, divided into multiple subteams, were asked to enact different scenarios of mentor-mentee interactions. Following that they dispersed into small groups and headed to their preferred places for lunch.

Once the team members were back in the office, Michal Konecny started off the next session about how knowledge can be effectively shared in the team, which proved to be really helpful. This was added to by the next session conducted jointly by Aoife Moloney, Kevin Fenzi, and Julia Bley, around understanding what the team skills are and what their interests lie in. The members were lining up their creative thoughts as sticky notes that were grouped under a certain focus topic. As we moved on to the later parts of the day, Troy Dawson organized a group story session where we came together to come up with fun stories and it was really surprising to see how creative people could get using just one or two words. Finally, Matthew Miller gave us a brief yet interesting run through the history of 35 Fedora Linux releases in around 35 minutes. 

Matthew Miller giving a run-through of 35 releases of Fedora Linux in 35 minutes

With the last talk having been completed, the team members headed back to the hotel for a brief respite before they reunited again for a touring walk at 1630. When the team got to Plaça de Catalunya, the members were divided into two groups and were provided with a couple of tour guides who took them through the famous historical structures of Barcelona. It was an enriching experience to get to know about the history that led to the creation of these fascinating architectural creations and the team members took plenty of photographs to retain the memories. The tour got over by around 1930 after which the team members went to a local restaurant, Taller de Tapas to enjoy regional Spanish cuisine. A wide variety of mouth-watering Tapas delicacies were served with drinks, culminating the first day of the meeting on a high note.

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