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Gathering in SF

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.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Hundreds show up

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.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

LaidOffCamp founder Chris Hutchins

In November, LaidOffCamp founder Chris Hutchins moved to San Francisco, only to lose his job with consulting firm Monitor Group one month later. In January, he conceived and organized LaidOffCamp as a sort of support group and resource for the unemployed.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Chris Hutchins on stage

Hutchins sees LaidOffCamp as an entrepreneurial endeavor and says he wants to use his consulting experience to help others forge new connections and find work.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Post-it note schedule

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.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Doing business

Not everyone there was laid off. The crowd also included entrepreneurs and recruiters looking to find talent and incubate ideas among the castaways of the turbulent economy.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Attendee Lexie Tillotson

Attendee Lexie Tillotson has been sending out 30 resumes a week for months and has received just one response. Like others, she is looking for ways to expand her job search.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Varied panels

Some panel discussions focused on managing your health or finding new methods for job searches. Others presented ways to pitch start-up ideas and attract funding.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Pursuing start-up businesses

Far from depressing and worrisome, many LaidOffCamp attendees see their situation as an opportunity to pursue start-up businesses. The conference offered a wide exchange of ideas in a casual environment.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Filmmaker David Bowsky

Media professional and indie filmmaker David Bowsky was laid off from Nolo Press in November 2008 and is seeking new opportunities in film.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Job fair 2.0

Temple night club's decor lent itself to the quirky job fair, which was dubbed a sort of job fair 2.0. LaidOffCamp offered job seekers ideas in a collaborative environment, mixing social networking with discussions about the tools one needs to succeed amid the downturn.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Pat Moore, co-founder of Amplafi

Searching for hope, some, like Pat Moore, co-founder of Amplafi, came to LaidOffCamp to recruit workers for their tech firms and start-ups.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

BigEar's Michael Pordes

In addition to searching for work, Michael Pordes, a laid-off senior product manager, is using his time to focus on his recently founded start-up, BigEar.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Lee Clark at LaidOffCamp

Lee Clark of the Sonoma County IT Co-Op was looking to recruit IT workers at the conference.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Resume 2.0 session

Dale Larson led the Resume 2.0 session in the basement of the Temple night club. Larson said that in the era of the Internet, your resume isn't just a piece of paper, but rather the sum of your online presence on sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Raines Cohen on co-working

Raines Cohen, a co-working coach, spoke at a panel on the benefits of sharing work spaces.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Laura Capuzzi

Laura Capuzzi, once a contract worker at Google AdWords, was laid off in January.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

The un-conference

In late January, Hutchins' event had only 26 confirmed attendees on Facebook.

Getting the word out via Twitter, the LaidOffCamp wiki,, and Facebook, the event had 293 confirmed attendees the day of the conference.

In the end, more than 600 showed up.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Questions and answers

In addition to the panels and discussions, representatives were on hand from health care organizations, office co-ops, and recruiting firms.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Jonathan Iger

Jonathan Iger, representing New Gotham Media, came to LaidOffCamp in search of new hires and found the conference buzzing with qualified people laid off from San Francisco Bay Area companies.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

LaidOffCamp panels

Upstairs, financial planning services and consulting sessions were offered. Job loss can have long-term effects on financial stability far greater than simply the loss of a steady paycheck.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Lydia Schembri

Lydia Schembri, a life coach, came to LaidOffCamp to offer her service for free.

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.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

Speakers at LaidOffCamp

Similar LaidOffCamp events are being organized in cities throughout the United States.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks

LaidOffCamp wrap-up

After LaidOffCamp camp ended, Hutchins' Twitter feed (@hutchins) was updated: "In terms of things going through my mind and # of people met, today was the busiest day of my life, #LaidOffCamp was a success, so worth it!"
Photo by: James Martin/CNET Networks


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