new year, new life for Freelance Cafe

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this blog and a lot has changed. Most importantly, Freelance Cafe is thriving on Facebook and the email list has grown to more than 150 members. We recently merged with a journalism MeetUp group in San Francisco, and the gatherings are getting bigger by the month. (We had at least 30 people at our holiday party, mostly thanks to the amazing friends-seeing-other-friends-attending-an-event phenomenon of Facebook.)

We have our first official workshop coming up on Feb. 10 – a tax seminar. And we have other workshops/events in the works. This is exciting! Clearly there are others out there who are as eager as I am to connect with other freelancers. And I will continue to do my best to make that happen.

For now, the blog is back. Stay tuned.

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Freelance Cafe Happy Hour

I was inspired by my friend Robin who created a monthly happy hour for folks who work in the environmental field. I’ve been to his Green Drinks gathering a couple times and it’s impressive – 100 people or more. They now have monthly sponsors. Such a great idea.

So I’ve been asking around about doing a similar thing for freelancers, and it seems that there is some interest. I thought Pacific Coast Brewing Company would be a good spot, and I’ve set the first one for 5/31. The Freelance Cafe Final Thursday gathering for lonely independents like myself. A step in the right direction. Pass it on.

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Chicago Manual Online – group rates

Another resource to offer members – group discounts for the Chicago Manual of Style online. I’m sure there are similar sites/discounts for AP and other style guides.

Small user-group prices:

2–5 users $25.00 per user if the group subscribes by September 30, 2007
6–10 users 10% discount – $22.50 per user if the group subscribes by September 30, 2007
11–15 users 15% discount – $21.25 per user if the group subscribes by September 30, 2007
16–20 users 20% discount – $20.00 per user if the group subscribes by September 30, 2007
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it has a name…

So apparently my idea is called “co-working” and it’s not a unique idea by far.

Dave Gilson sent me this BusinessWeek.com article about “co-working facilities” popping up all over the place. I’ve logged some of them in previous posts, but there are a number of new ones that opened in 2006.

There’s even a coworking wiki to help coordinate people and coworking facilities across the country and abroad. But there’s still not one in Oakland.

Also check out this slide show of alternative work spaces connected with the article.

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NYC Writer’s Room

Rob Gunnison put me in touch with Doug Merlino – a fellow j-school grad who is now working as a writer in NYC. He works out of a place called the Writer’s Room. It’s been around since 1978 and was founded to create an affordable workspace for writers of all kinds.

Here’s what Doug says about it.

“I love the place I work… Basically, you apply for membership and, assuming you are accepted (you send them a resume and some references), it costs $100 a month to work there. It’s basically a big room with cubicles and a separate kitchen and phone area. You keep your stuff in a locker and, when you come in, grab a place that’s free to work.”

He also told me about another similar place called The Paragraph. This place was founded by two women who wanted to create a work environment similar to what they had in grad school. YES! Their space is gorgeous – I need to find out how they funded it. They also do special events, round tables, etc.

And here’s yet ANOTHER one in Tribeca – The Village Quill. Apparently the waiting lists for these places get so long they have to keep opening new ones.

Finally – Doug pointed me to this NYT article that basically proves the value of these kinds of work spaces. So very encouraging.

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oakland workforce development

Oakland Workforce Investment Board – a city organization helping employees and employers get matched up in Oakland. On the surface it sounds like a lot of dysfunctional city bureaucracy, but maybe there is something here. Need to look into it further.

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same idea, different clientele

TWO ROOMS – A work space for freelance moms. Or at least it used to be. Their website is still working but it looks like their physical space is closed for the time being. I wonder what happened?

The main idea (from their website): “Parents work and children play at a facility designed to meet the needs of the growing population of freelance workers who are parents – a group that requires flexibility, professional resources and childcare. Our mission is to provide a comfortable and complete work environment for parents, with quality childcare on site, to give parents and children the room they need to be creative and productive.”

Childcare + Office Space – their tagline “You work, they play.”

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brothers with money

Knight Brothers 21st Century News Challenge

My brother found this. They have ALOT of money and very open guidelines. But their deadline is December 31!

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thinking WAY ahead

PacificCare Foundation – I heard an underwriting message about these guys on KQED. They are a health care provider that gives grants to various organizations… not exactly useful at the moment but worth filing away.

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help from politicians?

While it looks like Aimee Allison is not going to defeat Pat Kernighan in the District 2 City Council race, she still might be a helpful ally in developing a small business in Oakland.

From her campaign website:

Support Small and Local Businesses
• Adopt a plan to attract retail that will include development of key neighborhood business districts like the Grand Lake, Eastlake, Chinatown, and 23rd Avenue
• Encourage Oaklanders to develop independent businesses
• Provide marketing and promotions grant and loans to merchant associations
• Encourage successful, well run small businesses to open a second or third site in Oakland (e.g. coffee shops/restaurants)

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