LaidOffCamp, held during daylight hours Tuesday at the Temple night club in downtown San Francisco, was an ad-hoc gathering of unemployed and self-employed people seeking to share ideas and learn from one other.
Volunteers, speakers, and sponsors came together to facilitate networking and information exchange among hundreds of recently unemployed people.
Another 16 such events are preliminarily scheduled across the nation, with the next one set for Friday in Dallas.
Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, hundreds of people packed the night club, where the free coffee and bagels ran out quickly.
Dozens of panels ran throughout the day. Some of the workshops were planned presentations, some were question-and-answer forums, and others were thrown together at the last minute.
The Post-it note schedule at LaidOffCamp might look unorganized, but many attendees found the un-conference quite productive.
Among the topics covered: living on a budget, building your personal brand, finding a job/work in the downturn, learning to freelance/consult, and tracking down affordable health insurance.
In late January, Hutchins' event had only 26 confirmed attendees on Facebook.
Getting the word out via Twitter, the LaidOffCamp wiki, Upcoming.org, and Facebook, the event had 293 confirmed attendees the day of the conference.
In the end, more than 600 showed up.
Looking at the upside of the downturn, Schembri sees this time of flux as an opportunity for people to explore themselves and gain new perspectives on life.