Matthew Brecknell

BFPG: Passing the baton

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Last night, after a couple of great talks from Ben Kolera and Fraser Tweedale, I announced my retirement from the team that organises the Brisbane Functional Programming Group.

I’ve had loads of fun helping organise BFPG, and I’m still enjoying it. So why quit? On a personal level, I do have a bunch of projects that need more focus. But that’s not the only reason.

This decision is largely due to two excellent people who joined the team within the last year: Ben Kolera and Katie Miller. I’m really proud of both Ben and Katie, having watched them rapidly grow from nervous first-time presenters into confident organisers and mentors, and of course, good friends. I’m now keen to see where they choose to take the group.

To Ben and Katie, congratulations and best wishes. You’ve earned this!


Lots of people and organisations have contributed their time, energy and hard-earned cash to make BFPG such an enjoyable group. Thanks to all of you!

To Tom Adams, for starting this thing, and for ongoing support.

To OJ Reeves, for building community, welcoming many new members, and organising and personally sponsoring some spectacular events. You’re a tough act to follow, so I hope I’ve done you proud!

To Tony Morris, for lots of interesting talks, and for a commitment to sharing knowledge and experience.

To Nick Partridge, for mentoring new speakers, and being a fountain of ideas. To Kristian Domagala, also for mentoring, and for bringing samples of some very tasty brews.

To Rob Manthey, for paying for a Vimeo Plus subscription, and for shooting, editing and uploading many hours of talk videos.

To Microsoft, Ventyx and Suncorp for making great venues available to us, and to Charles O’Farrell, Jason Stevens, Richard Glew, Steven McCormick, Frank Valks and others, for organising access and equipment, and taking responsibility for our use of those venues.

To iseek Communications, for shouting us pizza every month, and to Chris MacKay for organising delivery. Also to Tom Wilson and ThoughtWorks for doing the same in the past.

To YOW! conference organisers, past and present, including Dave Thomas and Craig Smith for reaching out to local groups, for bringing the first ever Lambda Jam to Brisbane, for giving us great group discounts, and for allowing us to borrow some fantastic speakers for our own events.

And of course, thanks to everyone who has given a talk, or turned up to listen and discuss.

And now for a parting pep-talk…

To everyone in BFPG, hopefully you can see the pattern: no-one can do this forever! I’m joining a growing group of organiser alumni. As much as we all still enjoy the group, we’ve all inevitably reached the point where other things demand our attention, or where we realise that other people have fresher ideas than we do about how to grow and evolve the group. This is a good thing! But one of the reasons it has worked is that there has always been plenty of overlap.

Ben and Katie are doing a great job, but don’t take them for granted. If you enjoy the group, give them your support, and get involved now.

Based on my experience, by far the best way to get involved is to make a commitment to give a talk. As you negotiate a topic and content, and possibly do a practice run or two, you’ll get to know the team and how it works, and if you want further involvement, it will naturally evolve from there.

Preparing a talk, especially your first, is a fair bit of work, but BFPG is an unusually safe and supportive place to start, and you’ll get a lot more out than you ever put in.