Greater Kansas City 2600 is no longer being held in the food court at Oak Park Mall. The next meeting (December 3rd) and all future meetings until further notice will take place in the Barnes & Noble Bookstore cafe. It's ostensibly part of Oak Park Mall, but it doesn't feel like a mall. It feels like a coffee shop inside a book store, and it's a much better environment for casual discussion and collaboration.
Long version:I initially found out about 2600 magazine and the meetings through a few local bulletin board systems. I went to my first 2600 meeting in May of 1993, more than half my life ago. I attended infrequently until 1996, when I got my own car and finally started going regularly. As long as I can remember, there has been a 2600 meeting at Oak Park Mall food court.
Most of us were teenagers. People came. People went. Some of them even died. Many who are gone are still missed today for the friendship, inspiration and guidance they provided. Mall security chased us away once or twice. The mall got remodeled. The payphones we used to meet near went away. Memories. Lots of them.
The food court is usually a noisy and distracting place. It's easy for people to marginalize and stereotype the usual teenage food court denizens, but when this whole thing started, I was basically one of them.
At yesterday's meeting, one thing prominently stood out. The food court was different. More distracting. Louder. Taking a look around revealed the cause. Eight high-definition television sets had been strategically placed. They were playing music videos, and using the sound system in the food court to leverage a pop-music aural assault on everyone there. That was the last straw for our group. We picked our stuff up and walked to Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
Leading up to that, however, was a number of discussions I'd had with other information security folks in town. They basically refuse to show up because "Dude. It's The Mall. Come on." and I'm hoping the slight change in venue might get some more attendees as well. It doesn't fix the fact that traffic sucks in the Oak Park Mall parking lot, but it is right off I-35 and I-435 and easy to get to from most parts of town.
On top of the more relaxed venue, we have immediate access to all kinds of reading material including 2600 Magazine itself, and free Wireless Internet, you know, for FireSheeping people.
If you have thought about coming out but never have, or it's been a long time since you visited a 2600 meeting, I encourage you to give the new location a shot with us.