September 24, 2019

How to Deal with Being A Car-Dependent Urbanist

You work with cities, so you know. Cars (and trucks, and SUVs) are a serious problem. From pedestrian fatalities to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, our primary mode of transportation in the US continues to cause challenges we face day-in and day-out. For some of us, a challenge is also how to get away from these dangerous vehicles. The more we learn, the more we become hyper-aware of our impact. Yet breaking habits and stepping outside of our comfort zone can be so hard to do. Today, we're exploring some steps you can take to be part of the solution! If you can't live car-free, try taking some of these actions to better support your community and be a better driver (when you are one.)

Eliminate Small Trips

Did you know that car trips under 1 mile add up to about 10 billion miles of driving each year in the US? That's huge, and we can do better. If you often find yourself driving small trips under 2 miles, re-think your routine.

  • Even if you're not an avid bike rider, a 2-mile ride is incredibly easy. Dig that old bike out of your garage, borrow one from a friend, or hit up your local bike share to go for a 2-mile ride on a day off from work. You'll see how quick it goes by, and realize how capable you really are!
  • Once you've gotten in the swing of a 2-mile ride, make a mental note of grocery stores, convenience stores, favorite restaurants, post offices, and other places you often go for errands that are within 2 miles of your house or work. When you visit by car, make it a point to identify the closest bike rack. Next time you need to visit that location, challenge yourself to go by bike or walk (if you've got a few extra minutes) instead of driving!


Get Yourself Excited about Transit

In dense cities, transit can often be faster than driving. On a day when you have some extra time, download the Transit app to see your options and try taking lightrail, a train, or a bus to your destination instead of your own vehicle.  Once you get in a routine, challenge yourself to take transit one day each week, then two, and so on until it becomes a regular part of your routine!

Once you find your transit flow, enjoy the ride! Make a great playlist that gets you hyped for work, download recent episodes from your favorite podcasts, make a list of books you've dreamed of reading and work your way through them one-by-one, etc. Riding transit instead of driving doesn't just help the environment, you'll find that it also gives you back valuable time you would have otherwise spent sitting in traffic.


Reduce Elsewhere

If you simply can't avoid driving much of the time, make yourself accountable to reduce your impact in other ways.

  • Cut down your meat consumption (or eliminate it from your diet altogether.) The agriculture industry is one of the largest sources of pollution worldwide, and it's the single-largest cause of wildlife extinction. Some say that "without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75%."
  • Follow the classic trio: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (in that order!) Reduce your consumption as much as possible. Try to avoid buying material goods you don't need, and driving places you don't need to drive. Reuse things you already have, or repair things that are broken rather than replacing them whenever possible. Recycle as a last resort! Although recycling is helpful, the energy used to recycle is often harmful in itself.
  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics. Bring glass containers for leftovers, carry an extra reusable bag with you (they always come in handy!) and even pick up a biodegradable toothbrush.


Drive Smaller, and Drive Safely

When you must drive, consider the nature of your vehicle. Trucks and SUVs are more popular than ever, leading to a substantial increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities and fatal crashes involving smaller vehicles. Not long ago, scientists in Montreal studied over 3 million crashes and found that those driving an SUV instead of a sedan were 224% more likely to cause a fatal crash. Driving a big car makes you less likely to see smaller vehicles and pedestrians, and more likely to cause serious harm on impact. If you have an option, choose to drive a smaller vehicle as a part of keeping your community safe. If driving a larger vehicle, make it a point to eliminate distractions, always avoid using your phone while driving, and remain aware of your impact on the livelihood of others if acting irresponsibly.


Give Back

If you've got money to give and you'd like to offset a bit of your impact as a driver, consider giving it to an organization that champions alternative modes of transportation or fights for pedestrian and child safety in our cities. If you don't have financial resources, you can still make a difference! Follow these organizations on social media, like their posts, and share/re-post their posts in your feed! These small (and free) actions go a long way to helping their message reach more supporters, and raise awareness about an important issue.

September 3, 2019

Get Your Conference Game Face On!

Conferences can be grueling! Two or more days of networking, showcasing your work (which feels like selling a part of you if you’re self employed), sitting in potentially uncomfortable chairs, and hoping the conference can accommodate your dietary restrictions… can feel like a lot.

It’s only the first week of September, and I have attended seven conferences in 2019 with three more + the fall Ticco retreat on my calendar! As a regular conference attendee and frequent speaker, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to being conference ready.

1. Pack clothes you feel confident in.
There is a big difference between wearing something that you look nice in and something you feel confident in! Every conference has a different vibe, which can impact what type of attire you should pack (casual vs business). If this is your first time attending a specific conference, ask the internet to help you pack (use the conference hashtag on Twitter, ask in a professional group on Facebook, DM someone on Ticco)! You may learn that the conference venue runs cold or that people bring multiple outfits and change depending on the event. Once you have narrowed down the type of vibe you are going for, look through your closet and determine what you feel most confident in. If you feel better in a jean jacket instead of a blazer, rock it! Confidence is also tied to comfort. Pack shoes that you can walk around in. No, seriously - conferences inevitably lead to a lot of walking as you explore the city with new/ old friends.

2. It’s 2019, dietary restrictions are real.
People are becoming more in tune with their allergens or are selecting diets that they ethically align with. Nothing is worse than going to a conference and not knowing if you’ll be able to eat the lunch that is included or the appetizers at the evening event… you get the idea. If the conference registration does not ask about dietary restrictions, you should email the conference point of contact on the website and clearly explain your dietary restrictions. Most event planners will accommodate your restrictions, but just to be safe research local dining options and have back-up plans ready to go.

Organizer Tip: If you are an event organizer, please consider having all food labeled (ex: contains nuts) and having ingredient sheets readily available for caterers and/or staff to refer to if asked about food. 

3. Schedule “me time” throughout the conference.
Maybe this is waking up and stretching before the day starts, budgeting an hour alone before the evening networking mixer to watch some mindless tv, or skipping a session to visit the local letterpress, whatever it is make sure to take some time for yourself. Chances are you are not a 24*7 energizer extrovert robot (or are you…), so be okay with recharging. If you are feeling drained it will come across in your interactions.

4. Are you presenting?
Sick of the awkward silence that occurs before the presentation starts? I have started adopting the practice of playing music before I present. Instead of sitting as people trickle into the room, I have upbeat music playing to make the room feel a bit more casual and relaxed.*

While you present, stand with your legs shoulder width apart, speak into the microphone, and don't feel tied to the podium (unless you like the podium). This is your presentation and your opportunity to represent your work however you see fit. You worked hard to be standing there. Be proud of your work and showcase it well through visuals, limited text, and a confident stance/good verbal communication.

*If you use this suggestion, please tell me what songs are on your playlist! A few of mine are: 

  • Brenton Wood “The Oogum Boogum Song”
  • Chromatics “I’m On Fire”
  • Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place” 

5. It may seem like a no brainer, but do not forget your business cards!
Have plenty of business cards that clearly communicate how to stay in touch. I’d also encourage you to take some time to make sure your website and your social media is also up to date. Have you posted a new blog post recently? Is your bio and resume looking the way you want? People are most likely to look you up during or after a conference, so let’s make sure you are looking your best self on the internet in addition to in person.

What else can make your conference experience less stressful?

  • Bring an external battery. It is not always convenient to charge your phone at the conference venue and you do not want your phone dying while you are exploring.
  • Reusable water bottle. Hydrate! Treat yourself like a plant and give yourself water and sunshine throughout the conference.
  • Reusable thermos. It’s a heck of a lot easier to refill your thermos with tea or coffee throughout the week than searching for and throwing away those disposable cups.

You went to the conference and you made a lot of connections, great! What’s next?!?! Budget time the week after the conference to email your new friends, connect with them on the proper social media channels, and add them to your newsletter. Relationships should extend beyond a conference. Let’s make sure you are building meaningful connections through thoughtful follow-up.

Looking for more conference tips? Check out my blog post on Buying Down Conference Costs.


Sarah Marsom is a Heritage Resource Consultant based in Columbus, Ohio. Beyond her consulting work, Sarah is the creator of the Tiny Activist project, and sews Jane Jacobs dolls which contribute proceeds to scholarships for emerging professionals. Additionally, Sarah is a founding member of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists. She is currently a Ticco Ambassador and Advisor for Ticco's upcoming "Place Shapers - Detroit" Retreat!

August 15, 2019

6 Steps to Becoming a Community Leader

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Jane Jacobs


We desperately need change agents at the local level. Here, Democracy means for the people, by the people. Who is better suited to be part of the process than yourself? I find there are many who blame others for the government’s shortcomings, but don’t look inward to see what they can do to change the situation. To help you find a path forward, I put together a step-by-step guide to becoming an active member of your community!

If you’re interested in getting involved, there’s never been a better time. City staff and elected officials need a hand - they know that they need new perspectives, and they want to hear from a diverse set of stakeholders. As a local resident-turned-change agent, you can offer sweat equity and insight that enables your city to do more with less.

Here are 6 steps that you can take to participate, and help your city or community make much-needed incremental change:


1. Start by talking to your neighbors

As a society, it seems we’ve lost the art of conversation. Connecting with your neighbors while they’re on their front porch, walking the dog, or watering their plants can make a real difference! Share your love and knowledge of city building, and ask them what they would like to see change at the local level. Face-to-face conversations may not be as easy as a comment thread online, but they certainly tend to skew sharper towards civility.

2. Share the good stuff

Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land, begin establishing yourself as a voice within your community. Leverage your online network to repost and share positive news and happenings that excite you, and encourage your peers to do the same! Make an effort to stay informed by following social media accounts maintained by your local government, Chamber of Commerce, and community organizations. When appropriate, post supportive comments, and help to stop the spread of misinformation on topics within your wheelhouse when others unknowingly or knowingly share it. Just be careful not to start online arguments or be overly-negative about public initiatives on social media, as this kind of behavior can cause local actors to be dismissive of your ability to do good work and play nicely with others.


3. Know what’s happening in your City

Get informed! Make an effort to understand your city’s past, and where it’s headed into the future. As you learn more, you'll be able to tell the difference between community champions, uncaptured resident audiences, and the CAVE men (Citizens Against Virtually Everything)! Do your best to keep tabs on your municipal budget, upcoming infrastructure and development projects, community challenges, and your region’s vulnerable natural landscapes that could use an advocate. Beyond following along online, you can do this by regularly walking or biking throughout your community.


4. Understand the public process

Get the full local government experience! Attend a City Council meeting (virtually and in-person.) Find and review the minutes or agenda from a recent Planning, Zoning, or Landmark Commission meeting to get a sense of their process. As you attend meetings in-person, make an effort to introduce yourself to city staff and commissioners afterwards. If you’re worried about going alone, bring a friend!


5. Build relationships

Once you’re informed on the goings-on of your community and the perspective of local players, begin building relationships with stakeholders.

  • Make an appearance on community clean-up days or volunteer at a local festival
  • Ask a local organization that hosts a big annual event if they need volunteers or have space on the planning committee
  • Thank public employees for their service and tell commissioners often that you appreciate the work they do!
  • Make an effort to shop locally and befriend small business owners so they know that you’re a source of support.


6. Make it official

After it’s clear to the community that you’re invested, take your passion to the next level by getting involved in an official capacity. There are so many paths you can take, starting with one of these:

  • Seek a role on a local commission, board, or task force. Many local governments list openings, and you can simply submit your name online or send an email to the listed address to indicate your interest in serving!
  • Join the board of a community organization. If there’s a nonprofit you admire serving your region, contact them directly to see if they are seeking new board members. Nonprofit organizations are always in need of those with government relationships, finance experience, legal backgrounds, and a good grasp on technology. If you’ve got one of these, you could be a shoe-in!


In closing, I’ll leave you with a handful of quotes I think of to find motivation in my civic work:

“I may be only one person, but I can be one person who makes a difference.”

- Vadena Grace, Age 10, Bowling Green, KY

“The more a man knows, the more willing he is to learn. The less a man knows, the more positive he is that he knows everything.”

- Robert G. Ingersoll

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

- Coretta Scott King



Sarah O'Brien is a Change Agent for Collaborative Development Collective. She is a cross sector community leader who calls herself an expert generalist. She is known for building consensus and practices nonstop collaboration. She has a strong track record of enhancing the people, places, and organizations she serves. After almost 15 years in various local government and NGO positions in the public sector, Sarah committed herself to affecting greater change from the outside. Collaborative Development Collective, her LLC launched this Spring and provides a variety of tourism, engagement, placemaking, storytelling, commercial district revitalization, local government, and community development consulting and interim staffing services achieved through collective impact.

August 15, 2019

Finding a Rhythm When you Work From Home

Working from home comes with an adjustment period. You have the ability to set your own schedule, create a work space (or not), and enjoy the joys of no coworkers (sorry Mark, but I can only chat college football so many times). Here are a few tips I’ve found since transitioning from being a nonprofit employee in a lively workspace to working for myself in my 1920s bungalow.

  • One of the perks to working from home is the ability to flexible with your schedule. You can go to gym in the middle of the day or take an impulsive day off. While I encourage you to take advantage of this flexibility, I also suggest creating some semblance of a work routine. This could be only checking your emails M-F or always taking Sunday off of work. Maintaining a routine will encourage a healthy work/life balance and help you not feel like you are working 24/7.
  • Create a workspace conducive to the work you are accomplishing. Whether you need to invest in a desk that can fit multiple monitors or a space that can be flexible with each project you do, you need to figure out what type of work space will maximize your productivity. Figure out what you need to be successful! I prefer to work in natural light at a large table that enables me to spread out documents or set up a work flow for sewing Tiny Janes. Some days I work on the couch (but I know those work days will move at a slower pace.)

  • Just because you "work from home" doesn't mean you have to work at home! Find WiFi without breaking the bank by spending time at your local library. Many offer rooms of all sizes that can be reserved with a library card. Whether you're looking for a private space to help you focus, new resources (librarians can help you search for grants, find business books, and more!), or an excuse to get out of the house - your local library can be a great destination.
  • Try to preplan your meals! While it is nice to have the ability to rummage through your cabinets and create a meal from scratch, it can also interrupt your work flow. Plan your lunches in advance to ensure something that can be quickly made or pre-made.
  • Many people I know are worried that working from home will make them not look professional. Trust me, nobody is googling your address when they mail you a check and nobody minds meetings at a coffee shop. Heck, the person you are meeting is probably excited to have left their office!

  • Talking to other people is a great way to get new ideas and build connections. This is a bit tougher when you are working from home, but that's part of the reason why communities like Ticco can be such an asset! Ticco's platform allows you to connect with your peers around the country. If you can't make it to one of their in-person events, consider finding a fellow professional near you through the platform and inviting them to meet over coffee or attend a mixer for a local professionals group!

The most important tip is to have fun and experiment with how you work from home! You are not going to know immediately what you need for success, so try working in different rooms or on different days of the week.


Sarah Marsom is a Heritage Resource Consultant based in Columbus, Ohio. Beyond her consulting work, Sarah is the creator of the Tiny Activist project, and sews Jane Jacobs dolls which contribute proceeds to scholarships for emerging professionals. Additionally, Sarah is a founding member of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists. She is currently a Ticco Ambassador and Advisor for Ticco's upcoming "Place Shapers - Detroit" Retreat!

August 5, 2019

7 Roles of Marketing Professionals in Architecture

Marketing has become key to businesses in every industry. The rise of social media allows companies to reach new audiences and clients. Although marketing doesn’t immediately come to mind when we think of architecture, it plays a large role in developing reputability and generating work for a firm.

Whether you’re part of a large firm, or just starting your own, here are the 7 actions you can bet your in-house marketing guru should be on top of!

What the Marketing Team does for Architecture Firms

An Online Presence
The AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) industry is generally business-to-business, which means social media doesn’t work for us the way it does for business that sell directly to consumers. Even though we’re a special case, it does still play an important role. A strong online presence builds rapport with clients when you post about the work you do for them, and can help in recruiting talent. Posting about your workplace culture gives job-seekers a glimpse into what their future could hold! When it comes to the firm’s website, the marketing team maintains content, pages, and project updates to ensure that it clearly conveys the firm’s story.


While PR (Public Relations) and Marketing are quite different, they go hand-in-hand. PR is the practice of managing awareness and perception of your firm. It is not paid media (which is essentially advertising.) Through PR efforts, someone at your firm might be interviewed by or write a piece for a trade publication, you may receive an award, or a leader may be asked to speak at a conference. All of these generate publicity in a somewhat-organic fashion. However, PR doesn’t just ‘happen.’ PR agents work with marketing teams to develop press releases along with portfolio samples and submit those to publications for their consideration. PR is also about managing public perception. If not done well, it can have serious consequences for a firm’s reputation, and therefore its ability to attract clients.


When we wrap up projects, the marketing team is responsible for getting those photo ops! We coordinate with the client, the project team, our photographer, and models (if necessary) to set up a photoshoot. We ask the project team what story they want to tell about their experience on the job, and then we look to get shots that tell the story. Occasionally this requires staging (and those models I mentioned!) to get the right look. To be sure we can get everything in a tight time frame, we sometimes plan photoshoots months in advance. Once we have high-quality photos of our finished work, we make sure to highlight them on the firm’s website, in proposals, in award submissions, and through our PR efforts.

A post-completion photo of RDC-S111 offices in Long Beach, CA


Award Nominations
Every firm wants to be “award-winning,” right? Well, to make that a reality we have to submit for consideration! Design award juries don’t just pick random projects – marketing teams and PR agents actively submit their work and clients to award committees for a chance to be recognized. There are project awards based on category, size and location, as well as awards for the firm itself. The marketing team is responsible for writing project submissions and gathering images to accompany them as we submit ourselves and our work for consideration.


RFPs (Requests for Proposals) are one of the more direct ways that marketing teams bring in clients and revenue for a firm. Potential clients issue an RFP that outlines what kinds of services they need and what they’re looking for from a firm. Once we see that RFP, it’s on us to respond and showcase our best work in hopes of being selected. Marketing professionals create and send out a branded document that outlines the background of the firm, highlights relevant projects, and showcases the staff who will work with the client if the project is awarded to them. Producing this response to the RFP requires our marketing team to communicate and coordinate with other staff within the firm to ensure that the submission is accurate.


Brand Standards
The best brands are easily recognizable because of rigid enforcement of their brand standards. By using consistent logos, fonts, colors, and language in online content, office design, and media coverage, a firm can communicate its culture and core values to prospective clients and talent. Marketing professionals within firms use guidelines to create content that aligns within the firm’s brand standards. While a designer either works on-contract or in-house to create these standards and the accompanying guidelines, the marketing team is responsible for enforcing them.


A Familiar Face
Marketing professionals within architecture firms attend events and serve as the ‘face’ of the firm. Whether at a trade show or a project ribbon cutting, the marketing team is there (along with firm leadership) to be a presence on behalf of the firm and leverage these events to generate content for posts and build connections with potential clients.


Marketing teams do a lot within the architectural community. So if you’re in the office with a marketing team, stop by for a minute to say ‘thanks’ for the work they’re doing! And if your firm doesn’t have one yet, now is a great time to explore making an addition. Marketing professionals work behind-the-scenes, but their impact is clear. Invest in a marketing team, whether in-house or with an agency, and you’ll see results!


Kriselle Mendoza is a Marketing Coordinator for RDC-S111, Inc. In her role, she works in a collaborative environment servicing RDC, a firm providing architectural services for large and small companies including Whole Foods, Equinox, and Wal-Mart. In addition, Kriselle carries out marketing for the firm’s partner studio, Studio One Eleven, which works throughout the Los Angeles Region to provide Urban Design, architectural, planning, and landscape architecture work as part of projects which contribute to the well-being of local communities.

July 18, 2019

Member Spotlight: Blake Rhinehart

For our July 2019 member feature, we interviewed Blake Rhinehart, Ticco member and Founder of blocs design group. Blake is a Landscape Architect who is passionate about connecting people with different skillsets. He lives and works in the Bay Area of Northern California.


You recently started a new studio, blocs design group! Tell us a little bit about it, and why you decided to go out on your own.

blocs design group is a newly founded digital studio of thinkers, designers and landscape architects who work together to create impactful projects to change communities. While building out roots locally for now, our goal is to become a fully remote studio that brings together the talents, knowledge and expertise of builders, dreamers, designers and doers across multiple disciplines and across the country to deliver a full service design studio centered on a shared passion and desire to influence the built world. Currently, blocs is collaborating with designers working on projects across the state of California and we’re looking forward to expanding our impact outside our locality and current projects in the coming months. We’re focused on finding design solutions to problems in our cities and would love to join forces on all types of projects.

Since college I've dreamed of starting my own firm and my post-college experience has given me the tools, drive, and know-how to do so.  I decided to open blocs because I wanted to work on projects that would allow me to impact the world in a new way and design solutions for more localized communities.  My experience to-date has been in commercial housing—mostly big, mastered-planned, greenfield single family and townhome developments. While these were a great way to learn the industry, it wasn’t how I wanted to use my skills or what I wanted to spend my life doing. blocs gives me the opportunity to work on projects that I feel can truly make a difference. 


What have you learned about yourself over the course of starting blocs design group?

The process of creating something completely new from scratch is intrinsically motivating for me. Whether it is this business or starting a new project, taking an idea to reality is something I enjoy. 


How do you make an effort to collaborate with your peers in other professions through your work?

Through our remote model, we’re able to tap into a trusted group of team members and partners to deliver on various needs along the entire design process—from architects, to builders, to experiential marketers, to graphic designers, and planners. Depending on the project, we craft a unique team made up of the right associates with the necessary skills. 


Hayward Project by blocs design group


In what ways do you hope to challenge the expectations others place on you as a landscape architect?

Our hope is that blocs design group can help push the industry forward by rethinking and challenging the old-school model of landscape architecture firms (and other designers). Our fully-remote model allows us to harness the best talent from across the country while providing a flexible and collaborative studio through the use of technology. Tech and many other industries have adopted this fluid work model - it provides flexibility and the structure to scale quickly and attract top talent. This is an area where we feel the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry has fallen behind, since the old school of thought is that creativity can only come from designers being in one room together. We'd like to change this perception. 


What tips and tactics have worked for you when it comes to managing your time as a self-employed professional?

Spend the upfront time to build out your systems.

Starting a business or being self-employed is very time consuming and can be stressful, so it is crucial to spend the time upfront to create systems that will ultimately allow you to work faster and more efficiently. Having a system for things like invoicing, filing, and task tracking will make your day-to-day run way smoother.

Be flexible as your business grows. 

If you are like me, you thought you knew what your business was going to look like. In reality, that ideal business doesn’t always fall into place. Expect to take on some non-dream projects to get started, stay flexible, keep taking small steps, and adapt as work comes in. 

Drink coffee, lots of it.

As you would imagine, working a full time job and starting a business takes a lot of hours and a late nights. Make sure you are prepared to put in the time (especially at the start) to get up and running. There is an ever-growing list of things to do, and trust me when I say you’ll need all the coffee you can drink to get it all done!


Rendering by blocs design group


What parts of running a business did you not expect to encounter? How have you navigated them?

While I knew it would be tricky, I didn’t expect the amount of complexity and nuance that comes with the business and tax code. There are so many small differences between the types of business entities, and they affect both your business liability and personal taxes. Make sure to research as you can online in order to understand the different structures, and then find a professional you trust to walk you through the process and explain your options. It’s a difficult task, but will pay off in the long run.  


Do you have a professional mentor or a friend you turn to when you need guidance? How did you build that relationship?

While working at Urban Arena, I developed a close working relationship and friendship with Bryce Sigourney of Sigourney Architecture. He recently started his own architecture practice and has been a great resource to bounce ideas off of, share knowledge on firm structure and collaborate on projects. When starting a practice (especially solo) it's crucial to leverage your relationships. There is no way you can know everything, so find those who can share best practices with you!


What’s a favorite motto or words to live by that you frequently find yourself coming back to?

Why, How, What.

In Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk (If you haven't seen it, check it out!) he outlines how great leaders inspire those around them in a professional setting. He believes that the “why” should be at the forefront of a company’s ethos - it's the motivating factor for everything we do, so less focus should go to “what” we actually create. When working on blocs design group, this phrase helps us bring our mission to the table on each project. 


Where can our members find you on social?

You can find blocs design group on InstagramLinkedIn or at our website. You can find me on LinkedIn or drop me an email.


Interested in being featured or sharing your work with the Ticco community? Get in touch with our team at!

July 2, 2019

Messaging + Notifications are Coming to Ticco!

Since we opened Ticco two months ago, we've cultivated a community of professionals around the country who are working to improve their cities and communities. While we've been laying a foundation for this community, we've also been hard at work building out more features - messaging and notifications!

Messaging on Ticco is coming soon!

On July 22nd, messaging and notifications will roll out to all Ticco members. Here's a bit of what you need to know:

For Messaging

  • All members will have access to messaging beginning on the 22nd
  • Members will have the ability to message other members in a 1-on-1 setting
  • In messages, members will be able to share text and links
  • A message bubble at the bottom right of the screen will allow members to see the number of unread messages (if applicable) when logged in to Ticco

For Notifications

  • Members will gain access to easy-to-use notifications. With this approach, a bell icon will appear at the top of the screen when logged in to Ticco which displays the number of unread notifications
  • When a member clicks a notification, it will take them to the exact location of the item at-hand. For instance, if a member comments on your response in a Discussions, the notification will take you to the thread where that comment is located
  • If you have unread messages or notifications, you'll receive a once daily summary of these unread items. If you have no unread messages or notifications, you will not receive an email

Important Notice

As we roll out messaging, we'd like to remind everyone about our community guidelines. These guidelines lay some groundwork for what is and is not appropriate to message to another user. Please keep these guidelines in mind as you begin to direct message fellow Ticco members.


Ticco Message Center Preview

Coming Later!

In addition to these exciting updates, we are continuing to build additional features! Down the line, expect to see emojis, GIFs, and group messaging! In addition, we will soon offer customized notification preferences so you may choose if and how you are notified about unread messages and notifications.


If you're excited about messaging and love using Ticco, please tell a friend! You can find your unique referral code under 'Account' within your account settings. For every friend or colleague who joins using this code, you'll receive a $5 credit on your account. Note that we recently changed our process to join Ticco, and new members can now create their account in just 5 minutes on our website!

June 7, 2019

Engaging Community Stakeholders with Erin Guido of So Fun Studio

This week we're diving into the ways we can successfully engage community stakeholders through our work. Erin Guido, a Ticco member and Co-Founder of So Fun Studio, is doing just that in the Cleveland community and beyond. We interviewed Erin to get a look into her projects to-date and her perspective on why this work is important.


Ticco: How have you leveraged your design talent to create experiences that captivate local residents and the online community?

Erin Guido: I think my love of urban places, more than design talent, has led me to create artworks that engage with the community. I love exploring urban neighborhoods and coming across tiny surprises that make a place special. I like good architecture, well-designed public space, and active-feeling streets, but smaller things, like nice hand-painted signs, pretty gardens, detailed masonry work on bridges and buildings, kids’ sidewalk chalk scribbles, and street art and murals, are the things that make me feel more connected to other human beings.

urban surprises

Example of a little urban surprise that made me happy 🙂


I enjoy finding these types of tiny surprises so much that I began creating my own. I started by wheat-pasting (pasting paper on walls using a glue made of flour and water) nice notes, drawings, and simple shapes and patterns on the exterior walls of buildings. Wheat paste isn’t permanent, so it is fun and feels low-stakes. My small wheat-pasted artworks helped me find my artistic voice and start to share my artwork more publicly.

Examples of wheat-paste street art

Example of wheat-paste street art


Eventually, wheat-pasting around town and sharing my artwork on social media connected me to the community, and I was asked to paint permanent murals for friends and local businesses. Instagram has been an amazing platform that allows me to connect to a broader audience and get commissions for additional projects.

Example of a painted mural. This was my first painted mural at my favorite neighborhood ice cream shop, Mason’s Creamery (totally worth checking out if you ever are in Cleveland!)


T: What inspired you to start So Fun Studio and begin creating interactive experiences for residents?

EG: In the past, I mostly worked in a two-dimensional way, making prints, collages, paintings, and wheat-pasting or painting street art. Then I met John Paul Costello, a Cleveland-based artist, designer, and fabricator, and a whole world of artistic possibilities opened up! JP specializes in wood, metal, and fiberglass and has a modern design aesthetic that complements my not-very-exact, usually way-too-colorful style. He is really good at figuring out how to build large-scale functional sculpture with movable, kinetic pieces. Together, we founded So Fun Studio, an interactive design collaborative that aims to create joyful and lighthearted public art and products.

One of my favorite pieces, Dancing Machine, a teeter totter with attached characters that dance as you teet and tott! The piece was commissioned by Ohio City Inc. for the 2017 Ohio City Street Festival. Photo by Paige Moag.


JP and I first collaborated when we participated in Please Touch, a show at the Akron Art Museum that “shook off all of the traditional museum-goer behavior” and asked visitors to use their sense of touch to experience the exhibition. We created artworks that were interactive in a physical wayvisitors could actually move and change the art. It made us so happy to watch museum-goers have fun touching and playing with the artwork. After the show, we decided to start So Fun Studio to keep creating art that brings more wonder and imagination to everyday life.

Today I Feel is a free-standing kinetic installation. Its wheels spin independently of each other and give users complete freedom to display their "feelings." The sculpture is roughly 6'x6'x6' and is made of 15 wheels, each with 30 sections of hand-painted letters and punctuation. Today I Feel was originally produced for Please Touch, a show at the Akron Art Museum. It has traveled to outdoor festivals and is now on display at the main campus of the Cleveland Public Library. Photo credit: Paige Moag


It’s Going To Be is a 5'x5'x12" hanging box that houses cylinders linked by bicycle chains. By turning colorful knobs on the sides of the box, users can create different combinations of sentences such as "It's going to be the most fun ever because we are together!" or "It's going to be a little scary but only for a little bit." The two text cylinders with five sides of hand-painted text are each connected to the top cylinders of painted patterns that rotate continuously as the sentences are changed. It’s Going To Be was originally produced for Please Touch, a show at the Akron Art Museum. Photo credit: Paige Moag


Shapes and Pegs is a “make-your-own mural” with a 5'x10' pegboard that invites users to add, subtract, and arrange colorful shapes to create their own art. Shapes and Pegs was originally produced for Please Touch, a show at the Akron Art Museum. Photo credit: Paige Moag


I also work as a project manager at LAND studio, a nonprofit that creates public art and public spaces in Cleveland. I get a lot of inspiration from the local, national, and international artists that I am able to work with on all kinds of public art projects. When my job is to think about public art all day, I can’t help but take home some inspiration for my personal creative pursuits!

I love this LAND studio project, Protest!, by Olalekan Jeyifous. The four steel silhouettes were inspired by the desire to acknowledge and celebrate Cleveland Public Square’s history as a city-sanctioned speaker’s platform and site of protest, peace rallies, and civic gatherings. The artwork gained new meaning during literal protests that were held on Public Square.



T: What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?

EG: I’m most proud of I Have Many, a 4’x35′ interactive billboard installed on a building rooftop at 78th Street Studios in Cleveland for the 2018 CAN Triennial, a curated contemporary art festival featuring artists from Northeast Ohio. From the ground, people could pull cords that were connected to one of four indexing gears to change the displayed words. There were 256 different versions of the artwork depending which combination of words in the sentence the user selects. While we had a lot of challenges (creating something that big is more complicated and takes a lot longer than you’d think, plus wooden gears behave differently outside with all the elements than when you build them in studio, haha) but I am really proud of our ambition and what we created. I want to pursue more projects like this that are site-specific but aren’t static. In general, I love street art and murals, but sometimes once you’ve seen something out in the public realm enough, you can almost forget it is there. I liked that I Have Many was always changing so there was always something new to look at.

I Have Many was an interactive public artwork that draws on So Fun Studio’s feelings of being overwhelmed (or not) by having so many things going on at the same time—plants, emotions, ideas, projects, emails, and on and on. Sometimes it makes us feel better when we tell others about whatever it is we’re having trouble with (or not having trouble with) by posting it on a rooftop billboard. The specific word selections in this artwork were chosen from So Fun Studio’s own experiences and stories we’ve heard about some of our friend’s experiences.


T: What’s something you’ve come to learn about yourself by doing your work?

EG: With all the heavy things going on in the world, sometimes I think a lot of us can forget to allow ourselves to be creative or silly. My art has become an outlet to try out ideas for the fun of it, rather than always having to have an important or serious reason. I’ve learned that making things because I enjoy it greatly decreases the stress in my life. I think all of us need more creativity and making. The world needs more moments of friendliness and joy!


T: What is a project or initiative you’re working on, or hope to kickstart in the near future?

EG: So Fun Studio is working on a series of mini wooden automata pieces that I’m really excited about! Automata is the art of creating kinetic wooden toys that usually work with the simple turn of a handle. If you are interested in some examples, check out one of our favorite automata artists, Kazuaki Harada. His work makes me laugh!


T: Where can our members find you on social?

EG: I’m @egweeds on instagram, So Fun Studio is @sofunstudio, Jp is @jpcfom, and LAND studio is @landstudio! Please say hi...I love collaborating  and I’m looking forward to connecting with more Ticco members! 🙂


Interested in being featured or sharing your work with the Ticco community? Get in touch with our team at!

May 20, 2019

Member Interview: Sarah Marsom

As we build the Ticco community, we're excited to be highlighting members along the way. Sarah Marsom is a Heritage Resource Consultant based in Columbus, OH who has become a strong advocate for young people in historic preservation. Over the past few years Sarah has gone beyond her own role as a consultant to speak out against unpaid internships, all-white panels, and general disrepect/exploitation of the next generation of practitioners in the architectural and preservation space. We interviewed Sarah to gain some additional insight into her work and perspective!


Ticco: What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?

Sarah Marsom: When working for the German Village Society in Columbus, OH, I led the creation of educational programs (tours, lecturers, etc.) and assisted property owners with the architectural review process. I also worked to find solutions to challenges the neighborhood was facing, one of which was the deteriorated condition of its historic brick sidewalks - a constant concern for pedestrian safety, an obstacle in the path of tourism, and a harm to German Village’s historic integrity.

As I researched and identified strategies for educational outreach and sidewalk repair, I looked to the neighborhood’s recent past for a solution. In the 1980s, its brick streets were in very poor condition. The city planned to pave over the bricks after a practical joker planted a tree in one of the potholes. Neighborhood residents rallied together and started relaying the brick streets themselves in an effort to let the city know how important they were to the community. Their actions ultimately resulted in the preservation of the brick streets.

To repair the brick sidewalks, I developed a program where homeowners could sign-up to volunteer and repair a sidewalk. Participants would obtain required permits and purchase needed replacement bricks. Volunteers, led by a professional landscape company, could then relay a sidewalk in a single day. This strategy not only made sidewalk repair affordable - it built camaraderie.

Bricklaying with the German Village Society

Volunteers participated, and they were everyone from neighborhood residents, to local corporations who encouraged employees to participate on their behalf, to students who earned community service hours.

My passion is to create educational programs that connect people to the past through hands-on experiences, but the icing on the cake is when a project like this one is able to result in a larger community benefit.


T: What is a project or initiative you’re working on, or hope to kickstart in the near future?

SM: Students in our public schools are taught national history from a limited perspective, and I believe that historic preservationists must participate in the creation of dynamic programming that teaches the full story of America.

Though traditional trades and crafts (such as sewing, printmaking, or basket weaving) aren’t regularly discussed in preservation, the stories associated with them are powerful, and they can and should be told in creative ways. As cultural histories expressed through hands-on mediums, the stories associated with these traditions resonate with a broad spectrum of people. In researching them, I have been discovering lesser-known histories and the ways that these crafts are intertwined (for example, quilting as a way of queer community healing during the 1980s AIDS epidemic.) What I’ve learned has allowed me to develop site specific educational programs.

In partnership with Spoonflower and Modern Phoenix, I implemented “Sew Modern,” an interactive workshop that paid homage to the impact of women on Mid-Century Modern textile design, at this year’s Modern Phoenix Week. The workshop officially launched my, “Storytelling Through Crafts” initiative. As I move forward with this initiative, I’m actively seeking collaborators to create programs in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women's' right to vote, LGBTQIA+ history, resiliency during the Great Depression, and more. Send me a message on Ticco if you or your organization are interested in collaborating, or else sign up for my newsletter to learn about upcoming workshops!

Sew Modern_Sarah Marsom and Modern Phoenix


T: What’s a favorite motto or words to live by that you frequently find yourself coming back to?


“If historic preservation it is not accessible, it is neither relevant nor revolutionary.”

Advocating for and producing work that ensures people learn about the past through self-exploration and/or facilitated opportunities is critical. The above-referenced accessibility refers both to the access of information and the ability of anyone to protect the historic places and stories that matter to them.

My work focuses specifically on education and outreach within historic preservation because I feel my role is to prevent research from sitting on collecting dust. Whether I’m thinking of accessibility as a way to mitigate gentrification, or as a way to share the full story of America, this phrase pushes me not to settle for the status quo.

Youth in Preservation


T: Where can we find you when you’re not working?

SM: If it is warm outside, you can find me riding along Ohio’s bike trails. I love to explore nature and architecture, and visit small cities along the way. Otherwise, you can find me tending to my vegetable garden or doing some kind of home-improvement project on the 1925 bungalow I share with my partner and our cat, Raja. You also might not be too surprised to hear that my passion for craft extends beyond the workshops I coordinate - I love to spend a weekend expanding my sewing skills by crafting a new outfit to wear.


T: Where can our members find you on social?

@sarahmarsom on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin

@tinyactivistproject on Instagram and @tinyactivists on Twitter


Interested in being featured in next month’s Member Spotlight? Get in touch with our team at!


May 13, 2019

Easily Access Ticco on Mobile

You can get the full Ticco experience conveniently from your phone! Our online platform was designed for both mobile and desktop - make sure to use both to get the most of your membership! Below you’ll find a guide to pin Ticco to your phone’s home screen so you can access all of the features of Ticco on a mobile-adapted platform anytime.


On iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, you can take the following steps to pin Ticco to your phone’s home screen:


How To Pin Ticco


How To Pin Ticco


How To Pin Ticco


How To Pin Ticco


How To Pin Ticco


How To Pin Ticco


On an Android Device

The steps to pin Ticco to your home screen on an Android Device are more or less similar to those on iPhone. To pin Ticco on Android:

  1. Open Chrome or your browser of choice and navigate to
  2. Enter your log in information and select the box that says 'remember me.'
  3. Tap the '...' icon to expand the menu. Find and select "Add to Home Screen" or its equivalent within the menu options.
  4. A Ticco icon should automatically appear in the suggested image box and should be sized appropriately. Select "Add Automatically" in the bottom right hand corner of the icon.
  5. You can now close and re-open Ticco by selecting the pinned icon on your home screen! From your mobile device, you will be able to access a mobile-adapted version of the platform which offers the same features available on desktop.


Need Help?

If you are having technical troubles or just generally need help/have questions about using Ticco, get in touch with our team! Submit a support request or contact Erik Felix, our Director of Community Engagement, by email at