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  • Writer's pictureNeal Heidt

8 Things that Wouldn’t be Possible 🤝 (Pt. 1)


The Offgrid Tech building at Ethnos360 Training Center in Camden County, Missouri
The Offgrid Tech building at Ethnos360 Training Center in Camden County, Missouri

Hello,


Long time, no newsletter… In January, I sent out a newsletter briefly discussing projects I was working on bringing to Heidt and Depth. To be honest, we didn’t have a single active contract at that time. It can be stressful when you run a business and don’t have any work. However, something shifted no long afterwards. Starting in the spring, so much work has been put in front of us that it’s been difficult to find the silence and headspace to sit down and write an update like this. So, for my catchy intro on this newsletter, I will save myself the brainpower and quote my new favorite TV show:


Mother, speaking with preschool-aged daughter: “If there’s no trust, none of this is possible.” (Camera zooms out to show a neighborhood.) Daughter: What, none of the whole world? Mother: None of it. No libraries, no roads, no power lines.

Such a fascinating thought. Placemaking happens because of trust. Trust between people. And as I’ll note later in this newsletter, I personally am starting to see areas where I would like to trust God with this placemaking business more as well.


Here are 8 examples of trust we’ve observed so far in 2023:


Example #1: A playground (6 months removed)


In June, my daughter and I got the opportunity to visit the K-8 playground we designed and oversaw the renovation of (yes, my daughter was involved in the construction management 🫡). We visited during recess, so I got the inside scoop on all the new equipment from the kids. It appears that this playground is already loved and loved well! During this visit I noticed that there were a few aspects of my landscape design that were less durable than they could have been – lessons learned – but the play equipment is well-built and the kids are obsessed with their new playground.


Students playing on the new playground at Zion Lutheran School in Brighton, Colorado
Students playing on the new playground at Zion Lutheran School in Brighton, Colorado

This school recognized their need for playground renovations and trusted Heidt and Depth to help make them possible. By trusting us, we became the medium by which they could provide their students with a space the students love hanging out in as well as a marketing tool for prospective students.


Example #2: A courtyard (9 months removed)


Last winter, I got the opportunity to work with a landscape contractor on multiple projects, one of them being a townhouse courtyard they were remodeling. From a horticulture standpoint, this was a unique project. The courtyard is mostly shaded, and the paths are salted and shoveled when it snows. Thus, the plants must be able to survive on limited sunlight and piles of frozen saltwater as their food sources.


Last week I got the chance to visit this project, and it is more beautiful than I could have anticipated! While I have not yet had an in-depth conversation with the contractor about how the plants performed last winter and spring, most of them look very healthy despite the heat of summer. Without any construction management services being provided by Heidt and Depth, the project looks almost exactly like how I imagined, something I unfortunately cannot say is true of every project I’ve worked on.


Here are my takeaways from this project:

  • The HOA of this community trusted the contractor to provide them with a quality design for the front patios in their community.

  • The contractor trusted Heidt and Depth to design this space on their behalf.

  • The contractor proved trustworthy to execute the design according to what was drawn.


The new courtyard at Jasmine Place Townhomes in Denver, Colorado
The new courtyard at Jasmine Place Townhomes in Denver, Colorado

Example #3: A vocational school


In 2022, we volunteered for EMI to help improve the design of a vocational school for Christian missionaries in Missouri. In February, this school hired us to return to their backwoods campus (1) to begin casting a vision for navigating the campus and (2) to design signs and landmarks that aid in this vision. The school has visitors from around the world, and it is not an easy campus to navigate. Their intent is that anyone who visits campus can feel a sense of belonging by finding their way to their destination intuitively. This is a heart of hearts they heartily trust Heidt and Depth to help them fulfill wholeheartedly.


This project is currently in progress.



A mockup of one idea for a building sign at the Ethnos360 Training Center in Camden County, Missouri
A mockup of one idea for a building sign at the Ethnos360 Training Center in Camden County, Missouri

Example #4: A support group for small business owners


Since I founded Heidt and Depth, it has been a dream of mine to connect community planners, architects, and engineers with businesses like mine through the context of a recurring professional development seminar. Thanks to networking help from Graham Frank – EMI’s business development manager – and logistical help from Derek Hanson – a structural engineer based in Phoenix – this dream became a reality in February! We now have a monthly video call with 12 invitees! If you would like to learn more about this group or attend, please shoot me an email.


Although I barely knew Graham and had not met Derek before these conversations started, this effort was born out of the default trust we had in one another through each of our work over the years with EMI.


To be continued... Click here for Part 2.


Neal Heidt

Placemaking Strategist | Heidt and Depth

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