We have closed our last two Steampunk Explorer offices, in Babbage and Caledon. Okay,  so no more bricks and mortar for SE, information by courier only now.

I wrote here recently that we had pretty much decided a few months back to close all of our offices but we kept putting it off mostly because our Executive Director Boston Steampunk and me, as Chairman, just liked having them around. I said in that journal entry that once I had written about my procrastination over the matter, I would probably get around to the task. I guess I know me pretty well.

By chance I was talking with a prominent gentleman of the Steamlannds over the weekend as he passed my Ambassador’s Office in Winterfell Absinthe. The conversation came around to available land in Caledon and I mentioned I had a spot that
might interest him in Tamrannoch. He went down there for a look and soon a deal was struck. This inspired me to sell off the Babbage property in Academy of Industry as well and that was accomplished a couple of hours later.

It was done.

When we started Steampunk Explorer it was a group of five friends who wanted to share information with each other as we explored the Steamlands. (Two more friends joined within a month. We took to calling ourselves, “The Caledon Seven.”)
Only one of us had extensive experience in the Steamlands. That was Boston Steampunk so he became the owner of the group. The group was not opened to the public at the time.

I had met Mr. Steampunk a few months earlier when he walked into The Evergreen Pub in Pine Tree Square where I was Mayor. The Square was then located in the Deitide region on the Mainland. There was a steampunk store in the town and Mr. Steampunk had been shopping and then came in for a pint. I had visited Caledon a few times and Winterfell and New Babbage once each so we had a nice conversation. We stayed in touch and one day he came back into the pub while I was there. He offered to take me on a tour of some of the places he liked best and I took him up on it. It was fun and we ended up in a Caledon pub at the end of the day.

By January of last year I had used the information Mr. Steampunk forwarded to me several times and met two of his other friends. When he invited me to be a founding member of his new group, I jumped at the chance. It seemed a nice diversion from the operation of my two Mainland towns and the building of a third. I had no idea where it would lead. Shortly after the group was up and running, the Steamlands Information Center in Caledon announced it was closing its doors. Our group members chatted about this and someone came up with the idea of Steampunk Explorer opening to the public and eventually having offices to fill the void. It seemed like a lot of work to me and there were costs to consider. I had no interest in it as I was too busy running my towns. Little did I know I would be the one who volunteered to do a good chunk of the work and come up with the cash.

In March of last year I bought a place in Winterfell, thinking it was just a getaway spot. But, as I have chronicled here earlier, it quickly became my new home and I left the Mainland behind. By April I was hosting two offices on my land, one in Winterfell Laudanum and the other in Caledon Tamrannoch on a parcel I purchased specifically for the group. In recognition of this contribution I was named Chairman with Mr. Steampunk taking the title Executive Director. We made plans for offices throughout the Steamlands. Eventually we had six offices and were trying to find a spot in Steeltopia as well.

We offered free information about – and guides to – the major Steamland nations and hoped to expand to cover others. (One person who should not go without mention here is Finn Steamer who took the lead on projects that Mr. Steampunk and I could not get to as we had our hands full.) Traffic was good, we received nice compliments and donations were coming in…not enough to defray my costs but enough to show we were doing something worthwhile. That was all that mattered to me. We had heard we had come to the attention of some heads of state and they liked what we were doing and saw the benefits to their nations. We were thrilled with it all. When one estate owner approached us and invited us to open an office in her nation, we knew we had arrived (but we couldn’t oblige as I was at my budget limit and only one other member had come forward to fund an office).

It continued that way until early this year when we came to the conclusion that the offices had really served their purpose. They got the group name out there and built up the membership faster than we expected. But the work involved became overhelming and it had only started as a private group for a few friends. We never expected it to take off like it did. Mr. Steampunk and I began to discuss whether to close some or all of the offices and return to the days when information was delivered by group notice only. It was about this time that Mr. Steamer and another of the original members, Artemus Rembrandt, found they did not have the time to continue at the pace they had worked at. Mr. Steampunk and I could relate. That pretty much settled it.

So now the group – 300 members strong – will continue to provide information but by notice only. There aren’t as many notices as there used to be (with fewer active contributors) but with group limits up to forty now everyone’s total number of notices is higher anyway. As I said to Mr. Steampunk, “When we send out new information we will make people happy. Every day that we don’t send out a notice will make them happy too.”

And you still get the cool group tag.