This past weekend, a handful of LDraw contributors attended BrickFest 2001 in Washington DC. I was among them. I've chosen to write about this experience in first person rather than the usual third person format of LDraw.org features, because I have so much to say that can only be expressed this way.
The highlight of the weekend for all of us was meeting James Jessiman's parents, Don and Robyn Jessiman. They flew all the way from their home in Australia to meet us at BrickFest. I can't express in words how much of an honor their presence was, and how incredible it was to get to know them and James through them. I feel they truly inspired and uplifted all of us.
We presented an LDraw demonstration entitled "LDraw: Virtual bricks on your computer" on Saturday the 14th. The others presenting were Bram Lambrecht, Steve Bliss, Erik Olson, and Don Jessiman. Special thanks also to Larry Pienaizek for his work with setup and operating the projector.
The demonstration consisted of a general history of LDraw, an introduction to the various facets of creating LEGO models with the software. Don gave a brief talk on James and also expressed what the LDraw community means to them. Erik Olson talked about his new developments for the Mac with BrickDraw3D, and finally the James Jessiman Memorial Award was presented to a very deserving Steve Bliss.
The idea for the Memorial Award came from the Jessimans and they worked with the LDraw BrickFest committee (myself, Bram Lambrecht, and Erik Olson) to select the recipient and have the award plaque made. From what I was told, there are several other James Jessiman Memorial Awards, including one for computer programming and another for bowling, back in his home town of Wagga Wagga, Australia. The Jessimans intend to make this an annual award.
Aside from the demonstration, the weekend of BrickFest was an amazing experience for both LDraw and non-LDraw related topics. It was wonderful meeting everyone face to face, both old friends and new ones, and discussing and answering questions about the LDraw related tools.
On Sunday afternoon, Steve Bliss showed onlookers how to make parts and answered different questions about the software. I skipped out on a good portion of that because of the initial low attendance and I had my LEGO creations to pack up. Towards the end I returned to see a good handful of people learning eagerly about parts authoring.
The Jessimans expressed to us what the community means to them as we reminisced about the history of LDraw and remembered James' hard labor in developing the original tools. We also discussed several ideas on how they could become more involved with the site and in the community.
I cannot describe the incredible feeling I left BrickFest with, and I know that we made some serious headway as contributors and as a community in this event. We were truly blessed to have James' parents with us and I value the time I spent with them greatly.
We will continue working on maintaining LDraw and keeping James' memory alive. I think BrickFest this year has inspired all of the contributors who attended and we will have a lot to think about and work on in the future for the website.
LDraw.org Website/Project Coordinator