The holidays are coming and today, I reflect back on the past two years of Urban Landscapes. Urban Landscapes, LLC was technically created as a business December 1, 2019. The idea and even somewhat of the name of the company has been in place since March, 2010. In the height of the great recession, I left the company Thomas & Thomas.

Thomas & Thomas

I have very fond memories of working at Thomas & Thomas and worked with great people along the way. At Thomas & Thomas, I learned the land development entitlement process and got the thirst for community meetings. I enjoyed advocating for projects at community meetings, Planning Commission and City Council. This was my second job out of college and in many ways, it became the basis for Urban Landscapes.

Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes

I left Thomas & Thomas in 2010 to start my own company, Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes. With this company, I began to get a foot hold on the market. I made the decision to narrow my focus of projects that were infill oriented and would have a net positive impact in my community – Colorado Springs. Not all projects at Olson Planning were however ones that I loved. I created this blog to help me focus on what I really wanted for myself and my community. This blog has been built up since 2010.

Sustainable Fort Carson

Olson Planning (or I) was a contractor for the Sustainable Fort Carson Team from 2010 to 2013. My good friend, Frank Kinder, thought of me for this position while I was starting out my own business. I needed some more guaranteed money each month as I got the foundation for Olson Planning established. This was an excellent experience where I worked with some of the most intelligent and community-minded people that I have met to date, such a great group!

Sustainable Fort Carson
Left to Right, the Sustainable Fort Carson team included, Christopher Juniper, Alicia Archibald, Anneliesa Barta, Mary Barber, Sarah White, and Frank Kinder. (Nate Searing and John Olson not in photo.)

EV Studio Planning

I also had the good fortune to be an affiliate to EVstudio from 2010 to 2012, where one of my fellow co-founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism-Colorado Chapter, Sean O’Hara, happened to have a need to fill their multi-discipline company. Being an affiliate of EVstudio meant that when working on EVstudio projects, I worked under their brand and provided a financial cut to the EVstudio company. It was a worthwhile proposition while starting out and I began to see their marketing engines at work to a point that in 2012, Olson Planning became a one-third partner in a separate company with the two owners of EVstudio, Dean Dalvit and Sean O’Hara as EVstudio Planning.

Altitude Land Consultants

Financially, this was of great benefit to all, however I still wasn’t satisfied. I grew tired of the grind of being a business owner and was naïve of the tax laws, and I had enough work that I needed to bring on an employee to help out. This made me very nervous. I was actually tempted to just break completely away from grind of it all and find a government 8-5 job. That, by the way, would not have been a good move for me.

Instead, I dissolved Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes as well as EVstudio Planning after discussing my frustrations and concerns with the owners of Altitude Engineering, who were also a part of the EVstudio family, operating as EVstudio Civil Engineering. They suggested a salary position with their company where I could operate it as I had been without the accounting, marketing, etc. It sounded great, and it actually worked great for quite some time, until I realized that I was still doing the same amount of work, but now also had a staff to manage and keep bringing in work – work that I didn’t necessarily want to do – work that I wasn’t passionate about. I also felt the slip of some of the control and project focus that I desired.

Urban Landscapes

And so, Urban Landscapes, LLC was born and has been evolving through a global pandemic. We have had about thirty (30) projects over the last two years in varying scales ranging from the scale of a new town in Northern Colorado – Hylandtown – to the small neighborhood grocery store in Downtown Colorado Springs – Bread & Butter. It has been a lot of work, but it has all been meaningful. There isn’t a single client or project that we’re doing that I don’t enjoy – which is incredibly important for the long-term viability of the company. Yes that does unfortunately mean that I don’t take on every project that comes my way anymore. I feel bad when I have to turn down a project, but I know that I and my staff (staff of one at the moment) will be best when it is high-quality meaningful work.

I hope to have the opportunity to host a ping pong tournament or a social visit with many of you in this coming year at our new-ish office located in Gold Hill Mesa. Gold Hill Mesa being one of our larger clients at this time has been a wonderful place for an office, in part because it’s a five-block walk from my house. My first office was in the same building, but a very small windowless room through 2020 until July of 2021. It was July when I opened up the current suite that we’re in today, Suite 175. Additional space was needed for growth. As was my desire for a proper office with good light and a place for a conference (ping pong) table.

If you look closely, you can see the “conference table” through the window of our new office at 142 S. Raven Mine, Suite 175. Many more improvements will be coming to the space in the coming year.

There you have my ramblings for the week. I wish for you all to have a wonderful and safe upcoming Holiday Season. I hope to see and hear from you all soon!