These past two years have been really tough here in Phoenix, Arizona. Our economy exploded during the building boom in 2003-2007.
Then things tanked. Dramatically and quickly.
Tens of thousands of people were laid off in just about every industry. A recent report by Andrew Johnson of The Arizona Republic said:
“In total, the state lost 50,500 non-farm jobs in January, bringing the total jobs lost in Arizona since the start of the recession in December 2007 to 347,600.”
My husband has a construction business and we experienced (and are still experiencing) frightening and challenging drops in available projects. He says he gets at least 20 calls a week from people looking for work — everyone from day laborers to construction executives.
Similar to the tech crash I experienced in 2000 in Silicon Valley, there are upsides to correcting an unsustainable housing boom. I hope we will develop a strong base of more sustainable industries, and build on the already thriving and energetic entrepreneurial community here in Phoenix.
But until the long-term shifts happen, there are a lot of people who go to bed every night wondering how they can pay their mortgage or feed their kids. It is stressful and lonely.
Laid Off Camp is a totally volunteer-run free event which provides support, information, guidance and options for anyone in the Phoenix area who has been laid off. Last year we had a few hundred attend. This year, it could be more.
Susan and I got inspired to enhance the “inspiration” part of the Laid Off Camp mission and invite the wonderfully creative and inspirational Erik Proulx. Erik was laid off from his job at an advertising agency and started the blog Please Feed the Animals. He then created a movie about people who remade their lives after getting laid off called Lemonade.
It is beautiful and inspiring. See the trailer here:
Erik has been taking the film around the country to show in areas hit hard by the economy. His courage and creativity has been a big inspiration to me, since I think by focusing on the positive things that can come from being laid off, we create a more healthy, sustainable career strategy.
We are showing the Lemonade movie on Friday, April 2 in Chandler, Arizona. Erik will be here to talk about the film, and his own experience transforming his life and work after being laid off.
We are hosting the movie at no charge to people who have been laid off. This is possible with the generous sponsors of friends and strangers who feel for the heavy hearts of our laid off community.
How you can help
If you feel moved to support our grassroots fundraising efforts, here are three ways you can support our effort, whether you live here or not:
- Sponsor a ticket (or tickets) to Lemonade for the laid off community. Tickets are $5 each.
- Buy a ticket and attend the live event and share your good energy and wise thoughts with those in attendance (and if you are hiring, that helps too!)
- Donate a fixed amount to support the costs of bringing Lemonade to the Valley of the Sun.
All donations can be made using the “Donate” paypal link on the event page right here:
The funds are processed and handled through our local Phoenix Innovation Foundation.
We have had some extremely wonderful sponsors donate so far who I would love to highlight here:
Andrea Norman of Mind the Gap Marketing said this after giving an extremely generous donation on behalf of her business-to-business marketing company:
“My heart goes out to my friends and associates in the design, construction, and real estate industry that have been so devastated by the “great recession.” I encourage everyone to use this recession as a time to reflect, renew and redefine their dreams, hopes and vision. I firmly believe that better times are ahead!”
Jon Norris and Tony Chester of OnWired.com, a web design and development firm located near Raleigh, North Carolina said this:
“Tony and I used to work together at a big corporation doing web design and development. Back in 2001, we knew layoffs were coming, so Tony started OnWired on the side to give himself a little job security. He freelanced off and on, and when he finally got his pink slip in 2004, he used his severance to get OnWired up and running full time. I lasted a little longer than him, and when I got laid off, I landed another job pretty quickly — one that I quickly grew to hate. Tony had been bugging me off and on about coming to work with him for years, so we finally teamed up in the fall of 2006. Since then, we’ve taken OnWired from one guy working out of a coffee shop to one of the premier graphic design and web development firms in the Southeast. Aside from lots of small businesses, we’ve been lucky enough to work with big pharma and biotech companies and local universities (Duke, UNC, and NC State), and we’ve done lots of work for Thomson Reuters (the company that laid us both off). Layoffs were ultimately the stimulus that got us both to where we are today.
Anyway, I saw last night that you were looking for people to help sponsor movie tickets at the event. We’ll be happy to contribute some money toward that or whatever else you may need. We probably can’t do much, but we appreciate what you’re doing, and I’m sure every little bit helps.”
And our very own co-working crew at Gangplank jumped right on the chance to donate as soon as I made a call for sponsors on Twitter.
Thanks so much Andrea, Jon, Tony and the Gangplank crew!
Laid Off Camp Phoenix Events
I will be hosting the Lemonade screening on Friday night, and speaking at Laid Off Camp Phoenix on Saturday. I will be there all day Saturday as a volunteer, so if you are laid off and want to start a business, sit me down and pump me for as much information as you can get. If you add caffeine, I promise to give you my extra-charged pearls of self-employment wisdom.
Tickets to Laid Off Camp are free and can be reserved here: Laid Off Camp Phoenix.
We still need to raise some funds this week. If you do choose to donate, thank you SO much in advance for your generosity. Kindly let me know your name and/or company in the comments to this post so that I can acknowledge you at the Friday night event.
And for those who cannot or choose not to donate, thanks to you too. Your positive thoughts and ideas for my beloved Phoenix laid off community are more than enough. Please share your messages or tips for them here too, and I will be sure to read them at the event.
My dear friend Marilyn Scott-Waters always says “Use your superpowers for good.”
Thank you to all the superheros inside and outside of Phoenix who are supporting Laid Off Camp. It means a lot.