Silver Lining of COVID-19

I wanted to take a moment to take note of some of the positive lessons learned from the COVID-19 that may be worth continuing when the virus is under control. I have experienced many of these personally, please add to the list in the comments section at the end of this blog post:

  • Time with Family: I lead with this item as it is perhaps the most important lesson. My new coworkers are my family members, we’re learning to work with and around each other. For those who don’t know, I have two daughters (at the time that I write this, one is a teenager, the other is less than two days away… gulp) and a seven year-old son. As my wife so eloquently put it, we should look at this as an opportunity to build stronger relationships at home. Everyone has been running at one hundred miles per hour on high octane fuel. This can and should be looked at as a time to slow down. Next week, I’ll be teaching a P.E. Class at home, which I am excited for… I even have a whistle! I believe that the lesson is in scheduling time for those that we actually work for – our families.
  • Phone calls to Loved Ones: I have spoken to both of my parents more in the last three weeks than I did for the rest of the year. I’ve even had conversations with my brother, which honestly has not happened a whole lot as we’re both always on the run. Similar to the item before, this is important and we take it for granted with all of the technology and decrease in time.
  • Family Dinners: We have had many more “family dinners” – that is dinners with my immediate family of five. Sometimes we’re cooking, sometimes it’s take out, but the point is that we’re enjoying our food together. My daughter made us cookies one day even… that was an awesome day where I probably gained ten pounds (pssst, Erika, it was me that ate all the cookies).
  • Efficiency of Time: Unless your company or workplace have been requiring more time to “babysit” you or micromanage from afar, you have probably found yourself to be more efficient these past couple weeks. Sure, your time may have been otherwise occupied with homeschooling your children or taking a dog on a walk, but I hope that you agree with me that those are better uses of everyone’s time. Even meetings have been more productive due to the 40-minute cap on Zoom and the time saved from travel.
  • Paper and Time Saving: This one is not as relatable to other disciplines, but for the design and development world, submittals have been 100% digital saving paper and time. If you’re like me, you miss the in-person discussions with colleagues and friends working for jurisdictions, but it certainly results in time saving.
  • Walk More, Drive Less: You could have predicted that this would be on my list, for those who know me. Not only is this beneficial to our mental health, but also for our physical health. Driving has been in our Country’s top causes of death for several years now, unnecessarily killing far too many people directly and many others indirectly related to heart disease and obesity.

I’m sure that I am missing others, so please jump in and comment below. While I do greatly miss my fast-paced life, there are aspects of the changed world that I want to keep.

I’d love to hear from you, be well and take care of yourselves!

Success Requires Agility

We have all learned a lot these past few weeks. New terms, new phrases and for some, new ways to adapt to the rapidly changing world.

COVID-19 has wrecked havoc across most communities across the country – across the world. While it is increasingly important to heed the warnings, wash your hands, remain 6-feet apart, etc., etc., we also need to learn to adapt and do so in a nimble manner.

The devastation to local businesses, in particular third places (see A Third Place in Colorado Springs) such as coffee shops and bars has been great. The product isn’t necessarily what is consumed or purchased, it is the  conversations and connections that are made. That is not a product easily sold six-feet apart.

Good Neighbors Market, adapted to include a market component. Yes, you can still buy a coffee (or shake like I just did) while visiting.

To that end, I’m incredibly proud of my friend, Russ Ware, the owner of Good Neighbors, a beloved third place for coffee, drinks and delicious assorted food.

Note that somewhat coincidentally, Good Neighbors Meeting House was referenced in the aforementioned article about Third Places, though it was under prior ownership and called “Dogtooth Coffee.

Russ and Good Neighbors took the cards dealt, understood the duration of time that this could be before it is all sorted out, AND knew what was really needed. In a matter of days, Good Neighbors became a place to serve their neighbors with local food and goods. The infrastructure was effectively in place to become a local market, and at a scale that works for the neighborhood.

Bravo Good Neighbors! I hope that their lessons in adaptability can be repeated not only in Colorado, but across the country. If you’re aware of others adapting to the current Corona Virus realities, let me know. I would love to hear from you and spread some good news!

Roll up your sleeves and make some lemonade, friends!

Introducing the Civic Design Partnership!

CDP FoundersI swear that I have the best timing for my career ventures. All sarcasm aside, I have been meaning to make an announcement for the past three weeks and it just has not yet happened. The past few months have been filled with great new clients and building upon the Urbanist and Sustainability Principles that I have preached in the Pikes Peak Region for past 15 years. From affordable housing, to tactical urbanism all the way to writing a 130+ page Form-based Code for a new town, it’s shaping up to the life I want to live.

If that wasn’t enough, I have taken my nimble, flexible and efficient company of one and merged with two fellow individuals (and their companies) in the landscape architecture and planning business to add capacity. Together, we are stronger!

Former ALC colleagues, Ryan Bowman, and his company Bowman Studios LLC alongside with Jeff Webb and his company Populus Planning & Design LLC have joined Urban Landscapes LLC to create the Civic Design Partnership (CDP). []

We specialize in community planning, public engagement and design informed by a Strong Towns Approach. We pride ourselves on working with our clients to create a dynamic and innovative public process – often resulting in an enhanced community and Government relationship.

Studio Founders of CDP have more than thirty years of combined planning and design experience on projects in Colorado and across the United States. From community—led planning projects in small mountain town communities to the creation of new town standards and guidelines for developing neighborhoods, we are the complementary team for you.

Our wealth of experience stradles the Public and Private Sectors through numerous rezoning successes in several jurisdictions and a plethora of development projects. Our Team has the perspective and experience to effectively advance projects from vision to implementation. We bring a passion, dedication and knowledge that will make your project a success.

Of course, we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which I certainly believe that we should all take very seriously, so I won’t be offering to buy you lunch or a beer to discuss anytime too soon. However, this too, shall pass and I look forward to future in-person conversations.

Please remember that when you’re looking for a skilled team to help you with your urban planning, parks and trail design along with your general landscape architecture needs, give us a call to discuss the potential of working together.

In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, be kind and continue to be awesome!