Thanks for al the kind words everyone. I'll write the story here so people who don't know me or the story on how AIR started can read for themselves and understand how things evolved to where they are today.
I started this stie 6 years ago because I had the genuine need to exchange information with other Airstream owners after I bought my 1961
Bambi. I was living in the least populated county (per square mile) in Colorado and trips to the city took almost 2 hours round trip for supplies, etc. I used the internet to research supplies I needed when I went to the city.
I had a small hosting company and did freelance web design work so I had what was needed to put a forum online. The only interactive resources beyond Hunter's Yahoo Group and the list serve was Airstream Central but the software sucked and the owner did not have technical skills or financial means to upgrade it. I contacted Airstream, Inc, WBCCI, VAC and a few other sites telling them I would help build a forum for FREE for them. No one respnded so I bought the domain and software and got to building.
Unfortunately 10 weeks after starting my restoration (everything was pulled out and I was repairing the floor to go back in) I was offered a job in Dallas on a Monday and asked to move back and start by the following Monday. Amazingly I packed up my stuff in a uHaul, put my Jeep on the back and made it to Dallas in time to start work in less then a week. Man was I tired.
I had to leave my Bambi at my Dad's cabin (where I was living at in Colorado). In Dallas I moved into a high rise in a hip urban area of town. A little over a year later my Dad sold his cabin and once again I found myself in a rush to get back and pickup my Bambi. I left work on a Friday and drove to Colorado and back with my Bambi in tow behind me. I put as many of the innards inside her but I left most of them in Colorado with the idea that I would build a custom interior myself. This is one of the things I regret most about the restoration process for this trailer. I should have figured out a way to keep the cabinets. Now I am going to have to fabricate the inside from scratch. It will be custom and unconventional but will cost way more.
So in Dallas, I parked the Bambi at my highrise so I could get out there and remove paint and prep the inside for more Zolatone. It took about a month before the police slapped some pretty red NOTICE stickers telling me she was not allowed to be parked there full time. I had to find storage. With my Day job, life (early 30s with an active soclal life) and taking care of the forums I had little time (or even a place) to work on my Bambi. I took her to North Dallas RV a couple times for some odds and ends but for the most part she sat in Storage.
The other forums came through some random twists of fate. My Mom is from Sweden and I was driving home one day and say a car with one of those oval Euro stickers with an S in it (similar to our AIR stickers). S stands for Sweden, so I wondered if my Mom knew the person (expats are usually pretty tight). I knew about a site called British Expats
because I was spending a lot of time on forums for forum owners. I decided to spend a weekend putting together a site for her called Swedes In America!
. It was built on phpBB so it ended up getting spammed to death so it's closed right now. When I was looking for some images to use for avatars for that site I Googled "princess of sweden" and came across a forum called LesTribunesRoyales.com. There happened to be an announcement stating "I am closing this site on X day in August unless someone wants to make an offer to buy it". I made him an offer and that site is our sister site which is now on www.TheRoyalForums.com
. So the first addition was pretty much an adoption or the forum was going to be abandond. I switched it from Invisionboard to vBulletin and started to work with the team so the passionate members could manage it themselves.
The same ower of LesTribunesRoyales.com also owned another forum called TheFashionSpot.com. A few weeks later, he was wanting to buy a boat and we made a deal for him to sell me that site as well. That let put him in a situation where he had some cash and more importantly time to enjoy that boat. Forums take an aweful lot of time to foster. Our team here is amazing and their management of the community is evident in the amazing place we have here. Thanks guys!
At that point I had 3 forums and now I really found myself on vBulletin.org and spending most of my evenings at home working on forums. I happened to break my collar bone that fall ('04) and that also helped keep me home working on forums instead of out being social and enjoying my early 30s at the pubs. Things moved forward and I started to get less and less job satisfaction from my day job. In spring of 2005 I ran across DiscussCooking.com and ended up buying that little site (it's grown a ton). At that point I had 4 forums and decided I wanted to spend full time working on forums. I could not afford to do this in Dallas because the cost of living in the States was too high for the income that was being created. Forced to look for a solution I started to research the places with the lowest cost of living in the world. I found Buenos Aires, Argentina and packed up my apartment into storage got on a flight and moved across the world with two suitcases. With a cable modem and no distractions I had all my time free to work on forums, the idea was working and I was able to live on the limited income that was generated.
One ironic thing that happened along the way was an agreement with Airstream. They did not want to sign an agreement with an individual so I had to incorporate. That is actually when Social Knowledge, LLC was born.
I went on a backpacking trip to Sao Paulo / Rio De Janiero in Brazil and on that trip visited what is called the Costa Verde, an area along the coast between Ilha Bella and Rio. I was on an island called Ilha Grande (one of my favorite spots in the world) and really wanted to go sailing but could not afford to. Being crafty, I thought I would see if I could post on a forum about some type of crew positions or other ways to get onboard without having to pay charter prices. After a discussion with a friend I came across CruisersForum.com which was really stagnant and contacted the owner. He did not have time to keep the site going and I acquired it from him.
The story continues over the next couple years. More living abroad (mostly Buenos Aires and Brazil) but also a 1 month trip to Australia to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, a month in SE Asia (Thailand and Singapore) and 2 months in Europe (Brittany, France, Spain and Scandinavia). Right now I am writing this mesage from Cape Town where I have been for the last month. Tomorrow my girlfriend and I are leaving for a road trip up the eastern Cape all the way to Kruger Park and hopefully a quick visit to Mozambique. I love to travel and learn about new cultures. I am really learning a lot, it's very rewarding. Yesterday we were taken to a local shanty town where we got to meet the people living there, see their 2 bed room apartment where 4 families (16 people live), to go to their pub (isnide a shanty shack) and drink their version of beer, play with the kids, see how they cook and it was really an amazing experience. You definately get a tear in your eye when there thinking about how fortunate we are having so much in our lives. The people seem very happy, there were lots of smiles and they don't know any other type of life. I'll never forget my day yesterday and that is why I have choosen the lifestyle I have.
So back to my Bambi. She is currently at North Dallas RV having some sheet metal work done and the floor replaced. Then she is going to get silver zolatone on the interior and I will have my empty space where I will design it's use around my needs. I am hoping to do some CAD modeling to study the space and how I can make it fit what I want to do. Imagine a lazy boy with a flat panel TV positioned where I have a great view out the windows. (It's not going to be that, but my idea is comfort to kick back and work from a big plush couch/chair). I bought her to be a mobile office and weekend get-a-way trailer. I will probably not have a shower or toilet in her (just small white and grey tanks for the tiny kitchen). The plan is that I can shower or use the restroom at the campground if out for the weekend. I have indeed been looking at buying another Airstream to pull my Bambi, a classic motorhome. I review every new ad listing and keep my eyes on eBay. Nothing perfect has come up for sale but when it does, I will likely jump on the deal. Seeing as I don't even have a home in the States, storage is an issue, so I might not pull the trigger on that until I get back.
My job in Dallas was leading the IT team for a fee only financial advisory firm. When I left, I started looking for forums on that topic because I was very familiar with it. That's when I contacted the owner of Early-Retirement.org. They are an amazing group of people from whom I have learned so much. Many of them believe in many of the same principle of living as I do. Live below your means, plan, and save. I made the first step towards saving when a motivated buyer contact me about buying TheFashionSpot.com this past fall. The deal took about 3 months to close but ultimately the site was sold to them. They are very passionate about making the site better and I was able to diversify my assets a little which were 100% in forums.
There are various entreprenuers in the Airstream market including the people who own dealerships (for profit), publications such as Airstream Life (for profit), and stores like Vintage Trailer Supply and Inland RV (for profit).
Originally Posted by Melody Ranch
Then I get a notice about the upcoming push for "sustaining membership..." (read dollars) here.....but after the previous mentioned info I feel like I am being screwed. I love this Forum and the info provided but now I wonder about the 'Social Knowledge" tie in.
I had always hoped it was set up and run by an Airstream Fanatic and not by some Web Site Administrator in it just for the $$$$$. At least someone that owned, and was involved with, an Airstream.
If you want an AIR sticker and virtually unlimited server resources (space for uploads, PMs, etc) then you can opt to upgrade. Upgrading your account is optional, everyone get's free access to the resources of our community.
If possible would you mind going into more details about why you feel you are getting screwed?