Friday, October 17, 2014

The 2014 Class Project: Bonton Urban Farm

Just ten minutes from our work place is one of the most underserved and isolated neighborhoods in Dallas.  Its infant mortality rate and crime rate are among the highest in the state. Bonton, with its physical isolation and concentration of poverty is literally dying from being undernourished. Malnutrition is virtually unavoidable as there is no grocery store or basic health services in the neighborhood.

The ELP Class of 2014 met with Bonton Farm-Works leadership starting in April to assist building sustainable food systems in this impoverished community.

The mission of Bonton Farm-Works is to create a replicable model to foster food sustainability through access to healthy, local organic foods, and education. Various innovative urban gardening methods will be used to create a micro-farm where the local community can come to learn to build one and to have access to food that can be harvested there.

Partnered with Manhattan Construction and Kimley-Horn, the Class is designing the plan layout for Bonton Farms which includes greenhouses, a water collection system, animal husbandry facilities, and a training center/caretakers quarter. The Class has also put together a marketing brochure that will be used to raise money.

Seeing the Bonton Farm-Works in operation and learning about the community has been inspiring experience for the Class. Here’s how you can find more about the Works.
www.facebook.com/bontonfarms

Be a part of impacting change!








Cha-Hyung Hunt, FKP Architects

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ELP September 2014 Class



This past week, the Emerging Leaders Program welcomed guest speaker John Crawford of Downtown Dallas Inc.  Our session met downtown, at the newly remodeled One Dallas Center [ODC] - headquarters building for HKS Architects.  This aging skyscraper, originally designed by I.M. Pei, was until recently nearly abandoned, and had fallen into disrepair  However, since the remodeling effort, ODC has become an impressive example of the revitalization of the Central Business District as downtown’s commercial and residential growth continues to explode.  Considering the surroundings of this month’s session, there was no more fitting speaker to present than John Crawford, one of the key individuals responsible for the resurgence of Downtown Dallas.
John is the president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. [DDI], which is a non-profit firm championing the transformation of downtown Dallas into a vibrant, urban center.  During his tenure as the CEO of DDI, the downtown residential population has grown by over 50%.  This has been accompanied by corresponding increases in retail absorption, construction of new parks, and new multi-modal thoroughfares. 

John spoke with the ELP group at length about what it takes to become an influential leader within the community, and the characteristics he viewed as vital.  Most importantly, he stressed the necessity of building a network of relationships with every engagement or endeavor along the way.  He also emphasized the importance of selecting organizational involvement based first and foremost on personal interests and satisfaction.  He also gave an interesting perspective on volunteering ones ‘sweat equity’ and not merely one’s wallet. Immediately following his talk, a lively discussion ensued.  John entertained our questions about the future of Dallas’ growth, including his stance on several controversial topics such as the parking/transit situation for new Downtown developments, and the proposed tear-down of I-345.
After Mr. Crawford’s lecture, we filled ourselves with fried pies from Bakers Ribs, and were treated to another excellent leadership counseling session by Pete DeLisle. This month Pete covered: reactions and solutions to threat perception, and tips on how to flourish in high-pressure situations.  After the session the leaders and a few sponsors gathered for happy hour at The Library in the Woolworth.  If you have not been here yet – I strongly recommend you go…it’s how I imagine Ron Burgundy’s apartment from Anchorman to be: Leather-bound books and rich mahogany abound.  Needless to say it’s a great venue for a cocktail! 

Last week’s session was characteristic of the level of quality we have enjoyed at each of our monthly sessions.  Informative and engaging guest speakers paired with fantastic leadership insight from Pete has made ELP a highly successful platform for crafting the future leadership of our profession.  As this year’s ELP class begins to wind I would like to extend thanks from all of 2014’s class to AIA Dallas, as well as the sponsorship from our respective firms that have allowed us to participate.

-Paul Ferrer | HKS Inc





Friday, September 19, 2014

Class of 2013 - Promise House - Construction Update

Ten months ago the 2013 class held its final class session and graduation ceremony. At that point, we had raised over ten thousand dollars, and were still diligently working to finish construction documents for the new shelter space at Promise House. Through hard work, dedication, and help from some great partners in the industry (Beck and Balfour Beatty), the end is in sight!
 
September 8, 2014 marked a major milestone stone for Promise House, as interior construction officially began on the build out of additional shelter space for their teen center.
 
In just 5 short days, the 1,600 sf space had stud walls in place, and electrical work started. Day 9, electrical and plumbing was moving ahead full speed. Inspections for framing are next on the list, and should happen next week. This means drywall can start being installed next.
 
All duct work, air handlers, furnaces, and heat pumps are all in place - I hear the AC will be turned on today if all goes well! Plumbing is in and tied to the risers, and sprinkler heads are being relocated as this is written.
 
Next week, we should have rooms that actually start to look like rooms - equipped with drywall and lighting! After that, the space should be on the home stretch. Add some finishes, a little paint, furniture, and Promise House will have the additional space they need to house more teens.
 
The shelter will house 10 new beds for teens between the ages of 18-22, who have had a hard time getting on their feet and need a little help, support, and guidance in order to lead successful lives. If you would like to contribute to a great cause, please visit http://promisehouse.org/how-to-help/ 
 
Please check back for updated pictures of the space.
 








 
contributed by Shannon Carpenter, AIA
Thanks to Lee Ellis at Promise House for providing pictures and updates

Monday, August 4, 2014

Class of 2013-2014 Project Update


It was about 6 months ago when we said the group was close to having construction documents complete. At that time, our goal was to have the newly built shelter space completed by the end of summer. Well, it's still summer and we are so very close to our goal. We might be a couple months off from that original goal, but we sure are close to providing the much needed additional shelter space for Promise House.

As of right now, this is where we stand:
1. We have a signed and sealed drawing set - which is in the process of getting permitted
2. The project is FULLY funded. Thank you to the 2013 Emerging Leaders Class, Promise House and their donors, Community Beer Company, and all the wonderful in-kind donations/labor we have received.
3. Thank you to Balfour Beatty for joining as our General Contractor, and for lining up sub contractors, materials, and much more.
4. Construction is READY to start..... soon!

The end is in sight! Special thanks to the following people for going the extra mile to make this project a reality.
- Lee Ellis and the Promise House Crew
- Rick Walker and Beck
- Katie Humphries and Balfour Beatty

We cannot wait to complete this project and share images of the final product! More importantly, we are excited to help Promise House expand their facilities in order to have continued success helping local children in need.







Sunday, July 20, 2014

ELP June 2014 Class



Some days after our June ELP class I was driving across the DFW to a client meeting and was listening to Think on KERA. That episode was titled “Failing Up” and was a discussion with Ryan Holiday on his new book "The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs." The discussion covered failure, growth, and resilience through the lens of one’s life.

Numerous class discussion have focused on the positives of failure and how failure can foster leadership within a person. However, if our conversations have focused on the micro (two steps forward one step back), the conversation on with Holiday revolved around the macro. Success and leadership are not the result of a single event or reaction to an event. One who is branded a hero or leader resulting from a courageous action or an event developed the traits required to succeed and lead over their lifetime. Hesitation or action is not a result of the situation but the person.

The events which lead to the creation of a leader are not fate but choice. The person who hesitated failed to react because of years of decisions which did not prepare them for action. And though not much at the beginning, years and decades of planning for failure gave the person who acted a lifelong catalog of possibilities through which he/she is able to sort and splice for decisions and actions. During several classes, Pete has mentioned that when a systemic failure occurs the one ultimately responsible is the one who should have foreseen the failure. A successful leader will be constantly preparing for failure and constantly preparing to respond.

Let us all learn to fail with style.







Thursday, May 22, 2014

ELP MAY 2014 CLASS


I gave myself a trip to Seattle as a graduation gift in year 2007. The weather was gloomy and temperature was cold; just the way I liked.

On one fantastically gloomy day, I met my Seattleite friend, Alex, for coffee. Alex was in his late 20s, and he was an expert coder working at one of the most recognizable software companies in the U.S.

I remember meeting him at Starbucks on Pike Street. He was hunched over his screen, like Gollum staring at his precious ring. His nose was almost touching the screen.

I looked over his shoulder to see what was so interesting. It looked like very small, black ants all over his screen. There were well over a hundred lines of code, in a tiny, tiny font; all made to fit the small 15” screen.

I told him “You geeky coder guys should at least style up with a larger screen.” Alex smiled with pride. “Yeah, I know”. He was pretty proud of being able to work on such a small screen with such a large amount of data.

He later told me that this laptop with the tiny, 15” screen was actually his work laptop.  He was using it on a Saturday because he had traded his personal 22” screen with his work laptop. There were a lot of people at work whose seniority put them ahead of him to receive a wider screen. It would have taken months for him to get one of the new ones and he just couldn’t accept it. So he brought his personal monitor to work. As he walked down the corridor at work, carrying a 22”, he felt like he had to keep explaining that it was from home. He didn’t want anyone to think he had cheated his way up to the 22”.

He didn’t go by the rules. He made up his own rules. Nobody got hurt and he created a better work environment for himself and it helped him do better work.

“Be your own anthropologist, seek out radical thinkers, challenge your belief, and develop your perspective” were notes from the May guest speaker, Rich Farris.

Creativity requires working outside your comfort zone in order to find new ideas. If you choose only the familiar ones, you are working completely within the realm of the known, which means you are more likely to simply repeat old ideas.

Creativity is part of our job as an architect; whether we are “adaptors”, “bridgers”, or “innovators”. Innovators generating new ideas, adaptors incorporating new data into existing structures to make them more efficient, and bridgers, playing a range of roles.

As leaders, we need just a little more courage to break, and remake, the small rules that govern our technical lives. 

Be radical.


by Cha-Hyung Hunt, FKP Architects

Monday, January 20, 2014

ELP Class of 2014
Chairs: Amy Holzle, Lauren Boepple, Jared Eder, Shannon Carpenter

This year's Emerging Leaders Class met for the first time Friday evening at the DCFA for a small orientation and introduction to the program. This would be the first time they would meet the one and only Dr. Pete DeLisle  "The Man". The man who would take them on a journey for the next 9 months, teaching them how to use their voice, have a voice, and be a leader.  I would imagine after the ELP class left orientation, they had questions, and thoughts of what the heck they would be doing the next morning. Would they be gathering early the next morning for the Kick-Off Retreat, only to encounter 6 hours of lecturing and note taking? Would it be like college classes, sitting and listening for hours upon hours? Little did they know, they were in for a treat! A day of learning, filled with activities and discussions most of them had never had the privilege of experiencing. Because, let's face it, not often do learning and fun end up in the same sentence.

The class arrived at the Pump House bright and early on a Saturday morning, expecting breakfast and hot coffee to help wake them up and focus on a day of learning. Surprise, in typical architect fashion… the coffee and food was running a bit late. Fast forward 4.3 minutes and the coffee and hot breakfast burritos arrived. As the group stuffed their faces, they went around the room sharing interesting facts about themselves. Some were about dogs, babies, babies on the way, how they needed more sleep, how beautiful it was outside, how excited they were to be sharing their Saturday with a group of strangers etc.
For most of these individuals, it was the second time they had been in a room with these people, one would still call them strangers. Try and imagine yourself in their shoes and hold on to that feeling of uneasiness. Now imagine you are given your first task, the goal is to convey a sentence  you just wrote down to the person beside you. There's only one problem, you are not allowed to speak to the person beside you. Now add another variable, the person you are trying to communicate with cannot see you. You can’t speak, and they can’t see. How do you communicate effectively? How does this relate to work? How does this relate to relationships? Why does this matter? My personal favorite sentence one classmate wrote "This exercise makes me uncomfortable". Now imagine how the heck you are going to convey that message without speaking to your partner. Without giving it away, I'll let you view some images to see how our talented new class reacted. This was just one of the many lessons discussed on Saturday, January 18th, at the Emerging Leaders Class of 2014 Kick-off Retreat.
 



 

The day went on with discussions about oneself. What’s known, hidden, blind, and unknown. Each topic grandly defined with stories and situations that would help each class member understand what makes an effective leader, co-worker, and teammate. Each discussion led to a group activity, even something as simple as group juggling and hot potato, if you will. The tasks were, for the most part, straightforward, allowing each individual to observe their surroundings and uncover the reasons why people work together the way they do. It allowed them to understand how leadership develops naturally within a team.
Everything in life can be examined. Sometimes we tend to over think the simple answers and try to produce complicated judgments that only cause more worry and anxiety. Pete has a way of allowing the group to work together without distractions, by carefully controlling the internal and external circumstances, which in turn allows each person to take a step back and observe/study the resulting behaviors. Juggling those tennis balls and developing a communication style, led everyone to realize it’s much like juggling work. if you have an effective team, and team leader, everything will flow as it should. The team will be effective and the company will be effective and efficient.



 

Halfway through the day, the group gathered as a large family would, and had lunch. Lunch was catered by Street Fooder (one of our favorites). The group was treated to the PHAT sandwich, aka Pretty Hot And Tasty – Texas toast piled high with chicken and slaw. Yum! By lunchtime you could tell the group was comfortable with one another and was ready to open up. The room was filled with chatter, stories about family, work, the previous class discussion, and so on.
As is routine, lunch ended and the group gathered to continue the conversation. Situational conversations began amongst the group. Feedback was given, and ideas and stories pinged back and forth from one person to the next. You could see and feel the camaraderie within the room. The class learned there is no such thing as constructive criticism, as this is an oxymoron. Instead we should learn to call it constructive feedback, and learn how to promote positive remarks and useful feedback.  
As the day game to an end, the group discussed what they had learned that day and what they had hoped to gain from the class. By the time it was ready to depart for the day, it became to clear to all in the room, that the activities and discussions had served many purposes beyond leadership and leadership skills. The entire day had transformed the group of strangers into a group of partners, who were all beginning to trust one another and make friendships. It will definitely be an amazing adventure for this group over the next 9 months, with many great stories to come!


 
Article: Shannon Carpenter, AIA NCARB (2014 ELP Co-Chair)