Have you ever noticed the friendly creatures that accompany each feature release? They range from narwhals to pandas, and although they may seem random, most are not.
If you’ve ever wondered about the meaning behind the collection of mascots we have today, you’re in luck. We’re going to tell you how it all began.
It All Started with a Narwhal
Back in May of 2015, Matt, our Back-end Engineering Manager, joined our remote team. It just so happened that he and our Director of Product, Zach, lived in the same town.
They decided to make the most of it and rent a small office space so they could work together. Matt created a sign for the front door, featuring a narwhal (and The Events Calendar, of course).
It should come as no surprise that our team adored this lovable narwhal. Soon after his introduction, we were featuring him on t-shirts and other swag.
Around the same time, version 3.10 of The Events Calendar was about to release, and we wanted to include our beloved narwhal in the announcement. When version 3.11 was ready to roll out, it was clear to everyone that we had no intentions of going back to our old, critter-less feature releases. A new tradition was born!
Introducing: The Mascots of The Events Calendar!
As this new tradition was forming, Matt randomly drew whichever animal he wanted—often an animal he’d never had the chance to draw before.
As time went on, however, we started to view our mascots as an opportunity to reflect our team, and strengthen our unique culture.
Extensions of Our Culture
It’s no secret that we at Modern Tribe value a rich relationship between work and life. This is evident not only in our Slack’s #watercooler channel—the hub for our team to hangout and chat—but in every Slack channel.
It’s critical, in a remote setting, to allow conversations to ebb and flow naturally from personal to professional if you’re going to feel a connection with the people you work with. Over time, we’ve seen running jokes born, funny stories divulged, strange talents discovered, and real, strong friendships formed.
Instead of keeping our personal connections separate from our work, we choose to integrate the two in an effort to encourage and celebrate the online environment that keeps our workdays fun, and our team bond strong.
The panda mascot was a celebration of someone who was new to the team at the time, Luca. During our team chats we learned that Luca absolutely hates pandas for being a “lazy and inferior species”. If you’re a panda-lover looking for a good debate, Luca is the man to talk to.
Teasing Luca about his panda hatred has kept us entertained throughout many, many workdays.
Our funny stories with one another aren’t contained in Slack alone. Once, during a video call between George and Zach, George was unceremoniously attacked by a flock of geese as he attempted to walk through the park. Just another average meeting, right?
The goose mascot accompanied the release of Image Widget Plus, in celebration of George’s first major release as a developer.
The ladybug was chosen to represent The Event Calendar’s full REST support feature release in honor of the project’s QA leader, Jeff. We have Jeff to thank for many of our bug fixes.
Once, when discussing bugs, Jeff revealed that when he was young and asked what he’d like to be when he grew up, his reply was always: “a ladybug!” We thought it was too precious not to share.
Symbols of Our Personal Lives
Another thing we experience as a remote team is a unique blend of lifestyles and geographical locations. Sometimes, we choose to celebrate our teammates not by a silly joke, but by something really neat they have going on in their lives.
As you may have noticed, The Events Calendar fawn is named Dale. Dale is a representation of a real baby fawn who was found near his mother, who had been hit by a car, and rescued by our former team member Brook. Before his return to the wild, Dale often joined in on daily meetings with the Modern Tribe team while he enjoyed his bottle.
Connections Beyond the Internet
Thanks to our strong commitment to team culture, genuine friendships have flourished. Many times, the conversations we have with each other online get carried into the real world as well.
Take for example, our mascot chicken. The chicken was chosen in honor of Stephen, for his first feature releases as a primary developer. Stephen raises chickens in his backyard, and will often deliver fresh eggs to Triberians Zach and Sara who live close by with their two boys.
We Build Cool Stuff, Too
Sometimes we just want to show some pride for the cool stuff we’ve built! The giant squid is the first mascot to ever actually represent our plugins or their features. He accompanied the release of our Event Aggregator service, proudly representing the many platforms from which you could pull events into your calendar with his long, suction-cupped tentacles.
It All Comes Back to Matt
To this day, all our mascots are illustrated by Matt. He uses a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet and stylus to draw the animals directly into Photoshop, where he can apply his editing magic. He’s illustrated a children’s book, a number of book covers, and—in his own words —”a whole pile of nerdy art”. At Modern Tribe, illustrating the mascots gives him a nice break from his usual code-heavy work.
We’re grateful to have Matt on our team—and all the quirky mascots he brings with him.
Representing Our Team
These critters represent the whimsy we bring to our work everyday, and help us show you a bit of who we are with each new feature release. They offer brief glimpses into the conversations that make us love what we do, and the stories and bonds that make us a strong, successful team.