It might be useful to create a section in the Forum where user can create and/or join a local group and connect with other users in their area (or time zone). This might be similar to the partner area but allow for more selective interaction either in person, online, email, etc. as established by the local group. Another analogy would be a Meetup like section based on geographical area(s). It might be nice to know who is doing what (voluntarily of course) in your area.