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 community@go-ticco.co!

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 community@go-ticco.co!

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 community@go-ticco.co!


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 app.go-ticco.co.
  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 erik@go-ticco.co.

May 6, 2019

Networking with Discussions

As we design and plan for our communities’ needs, it’s helpful for us to be informed about trends and challenges in our practices. It’s also important that we understand the many viewpoints that our fellow professionals bring to the table. Enter Ticco Discussions, a place where you can share your thoughts on issues facing your city and your profession with people who get it.



Within Discussions, we’ve created nine categories that offer a chance to explore current events and issues from an interdisciplinary angle. Our team created these categories with input from Ticco members, and while a category might relate to any profession, the Discussions you’ll find within them range from broad to specialized in order to provide a unique opportunity for Ticco members to connect with their peers.

Over the next several weeks, you’ll see new Discussions added in each category. You can view recently-added and active Discussions in all categories as a default by selecting ‘Discussions’ at the top of any page on Ticco. To switch between categories, select the category you’d like to view from below the Discussions header once you’ve accessed this main Discussions page.

Ticco Discussion Categories


As we build the Ticco community, we plan to introduce 1-2 new Discussions each week on Monday. Keep an eye on the Discussions main page for an update, or make sure to catch your bi-weekly member recap sent by email to see what’s new in Discussions so you don’t miss out!


Keeping Track of Discussions

Did a Discussion pique your interest? Great! Keep up with its current activity and find fellow members who share your interests by bookmarking it. From the ‘All’ or category view in Discussion, click the green bookmark in the bottom right of the Discussion icon. Alternatively, you can click the bookmark link on the left-hand menu from within the Discussion itself.

By bookmarking a Discussion, you’ll see updates on all activity from within that Discussion on your Dashboard upon login. Discussions you follow are featured within a module in your Dashboard, accompanied by comment preview cards that you can click to jump directly to new comments.

Bookmark a Discussion


Networking from Within Discussions

Once you’ve found a Discussion that interests you, share your perspective! Below the prompt, you can respond with your own take on the topic, or (within the response box) select ‘Ask for Advice’ to seek insight from fellow members. Make sure to bookmark the Discussion to see when someone responds to your comment or another member’s comment on your Dashboard.

If a member’s response to you or another comment reveals a perspective you find interesting, click their photo to visit their profile. From their profile you can follow them, learn more about their work, or find them on social media. By following a member, you’ll see a summary of their recent activity on Ticco within your Dashboard.

If you’d like to send a member a message, you may do so by connecting with them on external social media or by looking them up in our members-only Slack channel. Later this summer you’ll be able to message members within the platform itself - we’re hard at work building out new features which will include integrated messaging!

Ticco Discussions


What do you want to see in Discussions?

Over the course of the past several months, we’ve been collecting suggestions from professionals as to what they’d like to discuss on Ticco. As we go forward, we’d love to hear your ideas! You can submit a suggestion anytime to let us know what you’d like to talk about with fellow Ticco members. You can also access the link to this form on the right hand side of the screen on the main Discussions page. We regularly review suggestions and use them to prepare prompts for you and your peers!


We hope you’re enjoying Ticco and its integrated Discussions so far! If you have ideas on how we can improve Discussions or any other aspects of the Ticco experience, please share your feedback with us. Have questions about how Ticco works, or just want to check in with us? Contact Erik Felix, our Director of Community Engagement, here on Ticco or send him an email at erik@go-ticco.co

April 25, 2019

Professional Networking – Simplified

We break down Ticco’s simple, low-pressure approach to professional networking.


A Straightforward Platform

Aren’t you tired of online platforms that are bogged down with excessive amounts of buttons and advertisements? We are, too. That’s why we went in a different direction with Ticco. Your Ticco Dashboard contains all of the links you need, and none that you don’t. Every button or link you see (including Discover People and Discussions) has meaning and will help you complete an action or access important information. Our simple interface also reduces lag and keeps your experience moving!


Professional Networking Without the Competitive Atmosphere

You may have noticed that in the Ticco community, there are no likes or follower counts. For some of us, it feels a little like uncharted territory after years of obsessive attention to these numbers. However, research has revealed that this type of activity tracking can be damaging to mental health (especially among younger individuals.)

Comments with a large number of likes are more likely to be liked by future viewers solely based on herd mentality, regardless of the content. The same goes for accounts with large numbers of followers. At Ticco however, we believe all our members carry their own merit and have ideas worth hearing, we didn’t want to create yet another system that rewards ideas based on popularity alone.

So when using Discussions, you’ll notice that you can “heart” comments, but no numbers appear. That’s because our system anonymously counts the number of hearts and pushes the community’s favorite comments through to the Discussion’s Community Picks section. This ensures that ideas are shared based on merit and members’ appreciation of an idea or point made, and not based on the popularity of a member or herd mentality.

We’ve taken a similar approach with followers. When conducting market research, early-career professionals told us that they felt pressured to share ideas and comment when they were hyper aware of who and how many people would receive notifications of their activity. As a Ticco member, you can follow other members and see a list of those you’re following in your profile. However, there is no follower count that shows you how many people are following your activity. We hope this will encourage members to share and participate more often and more authentically.


Because You Have Other Things To Do

Unlike popular social networks, we don’t track the number of seconds you spend on Ticco and use that data to make more money off of advertisers. Instead, we hope you’ll turn to Ticco when you feel compelled to explore a new idea, find a collaborator, access professional resources, or simply see what your peers in your area or other regions are working on.

In the meantime, we don’t plan to bombard you with notifications alerting you to every bit of activity on the platform. Though we are developing more complex notifications which will roll out with our official launch this fall, for now Ticco members will receive a simple bi-weekly e-newsletter with a recap of recent activity on the platform. Since we know you don’t have time to live on Ticco, we hope these insights will keep you up-to-speed and remind you to explore recently added Discussions and new activity every so often.


Have questions about how Ticco works, or just want to check in with us? Contact Erik Felix, our Director of Community Engagement, here on Ticco or send him an email at erik@go-ticco.co.

April 22, 2019

Why Are We Here?

The story of my work to-date, how Ticco came to be, and why this isn’t just any social network. Written by Katie Rispoli Keaotamai, Founder & CEO of Ticco.


My Work Prior to Ticco

In 2012 I was graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Long Beach, California and went to work for a local construction company. I was tasked with checking in on job sites, assisting with bookkeeping, and obtaining permits for most of our projects. While some were smaller, I often obtained permits for multi-million dollar developments and adaptive reuse projects. After a year I was asked to begin managing projects myself, starting with the renovation of an Mid-Century Modern high rise in 2013.

Around this time I began working towards my Master of Heritage Conservation degree in the USC School of Architecture. As I became familiar with historic preservation and continued my work in construction, I was very aware of the lack of young people around me. It seemed so counter intuitive that we were building places for future generations, but not engaging them in the process.

While in my first year of grad school, I was assigned the relocation of a historic building at my job. I loved the project, but wanted to allocate my energy to engaging young people with our work. At 23 I left to start a nonprofit organization that used vacant and dilapidated buildings to teach youth about the built environment. I was lucky enough to receive a lot of help - first, my former boss encouraged me to transition the building relocation project to the nonprofit, and second, I was awarded a grant to help cover two years of organizational expenses.

Katie Rispoli Keaotamai at Numero Uno

In 2015 I received a phone call from Taco Bell corporate. The first Taco Bell, located in Downey, faced demolition and needed to be relocated. Since I had experience in relocations, they asked if I could help. I ended up landing the opportunity of a lifetime, and was hired by Taco Bell to document the building, plan its relocation, and oversee the saving of “Numero Uno,” the world’s first Taco Bell. Moving Numero Uno gave me a national platform to advocate for “unconventional” preservation efforts. I began to travel around the country and ask preservation groups of all sizes to step outside of their comfort zone by implementing youth programs, letting go of red tape, and saving cultural sites.

I knew my work in preservation did little good if it didn’t tie in with intersecting professions. To many who work with the built environment, preservationists are known as gate-keepers are who are against progress. Especially after I worked in the development world, I felt obligated to connect the profession with others so we could work together and grow beyond our differences.


Promoting Collaboration with Ticco

Collaboration is the backbone of Ticco. The idea came from a conversation I had in 2017 with Each + Every, a design studio in Kent, Ohio. They heard about a project of mine and asked if I could replicate it in their community. I knew that I would need a planner, a preservationist, and a construction crew who knew the community well and were up for a forward-thinking project.. but when I tried searching, I ended up with hundreds of results and no way to know if their perspective was a fit.

I started dreaming up a network where people were connected by philosophy as well as profession, and where we could bridge the gap between our fields by focusing on our common goals. After sharing the idea and listening to feedback from about 200 practitioners nationwide, I realized that it was feasible to pursue. Last May I dropped most everything else to begin working on Ticco full-time.. and here we are!


How We Do Things Differently

Ticco is a self-funded tech startup. Rather than seek Venture Capital or other investors, I started this company with my personal savings and loans. It wasn’t easy to do, but I felt it would be unethical to give ownership to outside groups who aren’t familiar with our work and don’t understand its impact on all residents’ quality of life.

Not accepting outside capital gives us the ability to take risk and pursue a vision that prioritizes our members over a financial return. Because Ticco is driven by social impact, I’ve often been asked, “Why isn’t it a nonprofit?”

My experience running a nonprofit taught me that philanthropy prioritizes the distribution of resources to white, well-connected, and wealthy nonprofit leaders. Although progress is being made, I’ve experienced this dynamic before and couldn’t risk it squandering the potential of Ticco. Additionally, I believe that successful businesses should be accountable to humankind by empowering others and practicing sustainability. We need more businesses showing that profitability and doing good are not mutually exclusive. Since Ticco does not need grant funds or donations to operate, there really isn’t a reason for us to be a nonprofit. Rather, we can illustrate how social innovation can and should creep into the for-profit sector in order to improve the lives of people everywhere.

To start, we’ve pledged to donate $25 for every member, every year to support educational initiatives and programs that diversify our members’ professions. I hope that by increasing the number of professionals who share experiences with those they serve, we can further embed equity, accessibility, and compassion into the way that we shape cities. We’re also taking steps to become a certified B-Corporation and join 1% for the Planet by the end of 2019.


As Ticco members, I hope that you’ll use this platform to expand your horizons, grow your understanding of other fields, and gain confidence in your perspective. As you do these things on Ticco, we promise to advocate for you as professionals, provide you with new tools that enhance your ability to do good work, and push our professional institutions away from the status quo.

Lindseying Photography Ticco Retreat

As we begin, we want our platform to evolve in order to meet your needs. I encourage you to share your feedback, suggestions, and thoughts on how we can improve Ticco. You, as members, are our primary stakeholders. Our team at Ticco works for you, and is here to accommodate your needs above anyone else’s.

I am so grateful and excited to have you here with us, and I encourage you to reach out anytime directly. Thank you for your passion, your work, and for becoming a Ticco member!

Katie Rispoli Keaotamai