The Life of a Road Warrior


What do you think when you hear September and October? For us, the first thing that comes to mind is conference season. And for a firm like ours, whose primary service area encompasses over 500 miles in each direction, that is a lot of dashboard time. We traveled over 3,840 miles this conference season to connect with you and to hear the real problems that you’re facing.

You see, when we attend a conference, there are usually educational sessions that our staff attend with you, and we apply that knowledge to be better designers, engineers and planners. This year, we had the pleasure of attending all four states’ parks and recreation conferences. By listening closely, we learned about the current needs of parks and recreation departments and districts, many topics included post-design issues, such as operations and maintenance.

By fully understanding a client’s every day needs, we become more holistic in our approach to design.

Some days, don’t you just wish that the public knew how much time and money was spent on upgrading chip readers, so you can process their credit cards more efficiently and securely? Or the rationale behind requiring parents to sign the release form, so that their kid can come to your recreation center after school? What about the latest legislative updates in land use law, and how that may affect your ability to acquire and develop property? Most importantly, would it be nice for the public to understand the months of preparation of preparing a budget and the workforce implications of retirement, attrition and reorganization?

While the details of all those topics are far more complex than most people want to know, wouldn’t it be nice if your consultant was cognizant and empathetic to these issues? At Peaks to Plains Design, we think so, and we invest time learning about them so that we are better at understanding you.

About the Author

Jolene Rieck is the Principal Landscape Architect and owner of Peaks to Plains Design. The firm provides landscape architecture, civil engineering and planning services for clients in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Jolene has an extensive portfolio of award-winning, collaborative projects that result in “connecting people to their environment” as well as improving economic vitality, place making and public health.