A quick post to update what I have been up to.
Getting laid off - In Sept 2007, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation announces they will close their operating websites SchwabLearning.org and SparkTop.org. New homes for both sites are found and transition work begins. I learned important lessons about coordination, strategy, resources. Considering the parent community ultimately fragmented between the official host, GreatSchools.net, and at least 3 other community spaces, I can say I also learned difficult lessons about working within overly structured organizations and sudden losses of decision-making.
Reinventing myself as a consultant - I been keeping an eye out for jobs in online community and there are a lot of them out there. Unfortunately, most of them are for managing communities under the direction of a product manager or VP. These are too limiting given my experience in handling all aspects of communities including control over UI and feature design and mining the data for information directly. I've had a few people express interest in hiring me and I have been offering contracts for more foundational help rather than accept permanent work in a limited role.
I've had good luck so far and will be doing some work for a couple of non-profits and a health-oriented for-profit. None of it is long-term, but it involves helping the organization get the most out of a community strategy and plan for features, staff or skill sets they will need.
Attending conferences - To keep myself connected and relevant, I've been attending online community round tables, meet-ups and conferences. I'm even getting a chance to lead small group sessions at some. I'll turn that into a separate post of both past and upcoming 2008 conferences.
Enjoying myself - I got a pretty sweet layoff package and I've been taking advantage of that to sleep in, clean my house (I have half of my back office reclaimed as an actual office - go me!), spend more time with friends, and a road trip through Arizona and New Mexico (with an important stop in Bakersfield, CA, pictured right). I've been listening to The Thomas Jefferson Hour via downloads, twittering, walking and reading in preparation for a presentation on early modern surgery for a group of historical romance writers. Somewhere in there, is also losing weight (35 lbs since last Nov), roasting coffee and playing games on the computer and Nintendo DS.