The world of new media freelancing can be lonely, but RefreshAugusta is working to bring designers, programmers and developers out of their offices.
RefreshAugusta started in 2008 by a group of freelancers who wanted to learn from one another’s expertise and connect with professionals in the Augusta area.
“There are a lot of freelancers and telecommuters in the Augusta area, and this is giving them an excuse to come out and meet people who are doing the same thing,” said Chris Harrison, a Web designer and one of the group founders.
Interacting with fellow Web professionals monthly helps him to keep up with the latest in the industry.
“It’s ever-changing, and it’s hard to stay on top of it all,” he said. “You may not know what you need to learn, but your friends might.”
Eric Parker is a native Augustan who works as an architect and moved to Silicon Valley in 2000. He moved back recently and has been working to bring ideas and collaboration to the Augusta area. Through the Augusta Hackathon earlier this summer, about 35 developers and designers spent 24 hours building a Web-based business, SinglesEmail.com.
Parker said making connections in person is important because it’s how humans are wired to work.
“At the end of the day, the reason social media exists is because we’re social creatures,” he said.
RefreshAugusta and other similar programs are helpful, he believes, because it connects people who wouldn’t otherwise know about one another. The Augusta technology community is growing, and Parker said plans are in the works for coworking space for freelancers, another Hackathon, and collaborative efforts among local government, schools and businesses. With this growth, the demand for designers, programmers and developers will increase and organizations such as RefreshAugusta will grow, too, he said.
“There’s a tremendous future for it,” Parker said.
Harrison said the average attendance for the monthly meetings is 20 people.