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Helping Puppy Mill Dog Survivors

*Shared post from my blog at Private School Pups

10,000 and 2 million…

…the former is the number of puppy mills that exist today, and the later is the number of dogs born in their cages in the United States each year. Puppy mill dogs are often sold at retail pet stores, and unfortunately, are kept in wire cages their entire lives. This means no exposure to fresh air, food, earth, or even solid ground their entire lives.

Recently, rescues are starting to see an increase in dog surrenders from puppy mills once the mill owners are done using the dogs for breeding. Dogs surrendered range anywhere in age but are typically 6-9 years old. It is heartwarming to see this change, as in the past, these unneeded dogs were often killed by mill owners.

Sadly, these dogs come in to rescues typically scared, skinny, under socialized, and with expensive medical needs. Because of this, rescues try to place these unique dogs in understanding foster homes. Despite its challenges, anyone who is up to the challenge of fostering or even adopting a mill dog will surely be in for a treat, as these dogs will reward you an amazing, caring, and sweet companionship. It will take work, but it will be worth the reward!

Having fostered several puppy mill dogs now myself, I wanted to share some of my best tips on things I’ve discovered during my journey. And if you are reading this and also have tips to share from fostering or adopting mill dogs, PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. This type of information is invaluable for those starting their journey with these very special pups.

 GIVE THEM TIME AND UNDERSTANDING

Above all else, when you first get a puppy mill dog, they will need some time to adjust. These dogs have spent YEARS in cages with little to no positive human interaction. It will take time for them to adjust to you, your family, being inside, and even potty training. They may hide in corners and run away from you. That’s OK. All they need is time to adjust to learning and getting comfortable with their new home. It’s always important to give them the space they need and not force them into anything too fast. They will come around, I promise. 

Brandi, a mill dog I had for more than a year, spend most of her time for the first few months in my bathroom, even when I left the door open. It was her safe space that was easy to clean and was far away from activity to keep things quiet. But over time, I started to notice this sweet girl sitting in the same room with me. After that, sleeping with me. It was a great feeling to watch her personality bloom!

Brandi, a puppy mill survivor, loves sleeping and hanging out in my bathroom. It was her safe place when she was learning to be comfortable inside a home.
Brandi, a puppy mill survivor, loves sleeping and hanging out in my bathroom. It was her safe place when she was learning to be comfortable inside a home.

DELICIOUS TREATS

Like any dog, mill dogs generally love to eat. Helping to calm them and train them, super delicious treats will be the key to your success. Just remember, most of these dogs will not take food from your hands, at least initially, so you may have to throw them on the floor near them and let them take the treats from there. In addition, many mill dogs have very poor teeth, so make sure not pick anything that is too hard to chew.

My favorite picks:

·       Peanut butter (just make sure no sugar or artificial sweeteners ever added!)

·       Cream cheese

·       Hot dogs

·       Any flavor Bark Pouch. I’ve had some picking eaters and have had NO ONE refuse these treats. You can add it to food, in a toy, or even just put a little bit on the floor for your friend to enjoy. Bonus, the company is woman-owned and she donates to charity often (include Private School Pups!)

GET A GOOD HARNESS AND SLING/STROLLER

Puppy mill dogs can spook easily, so if you are taking them outside, or have them inside during training, a harness goes a long way. For one, a harnesses prevents them running away, as it’s harder to slip out of when compared with a traditional collar. This means that if your mill dog gets scared and tries to run away, they will be much less likely to get away from you. When worn in the house, this can help you be able to pick up your mill dog without the fear of potentially getting bitten or having to grab the dog in a way they are not yet comfortable with. My favorites harnesses are ones with handles on the back, like this one from Kurgo. This is particular helpful in picking up and guiding puppy mill dogs.

I have found that some mill dogs just never get used to walking on a leash, but even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean that they do not enjoy walking outside. Once settled in and used to me and my house, I start to “walk” my mill dogs in a sling (if they are not too scared and do not try to escape). The sling allows them to get used to walks and to being outside while giving me the free hands to walk my other pups at the same time. You can find a variety of dog slings through Amazon or other retailers.

If a sling is not for you, they also make a great variety of pet walkers that are fully secure and breathable.  

Always walking multiple dogs, a pet sling for puppy mills dogs is my go-to item to help them adjust to outside settings, get some fresh air, all while letting them feel like part of the pack.
Always walking multiple dogs, a pet sling for puppy mills dogs is my go-to item to help them adjust to outside settings, get some fresh air, all while letting them feel like part of the pack.

THEY OFTEN FIND COMFORT IN OTHER DOGS

Spending most of their lives around other dogs and not humans, mill dogs often love to have other furry friends. If you have a mill dog in your care and other pets, consider arranging play dates to see if they enjoy spending time with their furry counterparts. It’s a great way to help them learn doggy manners and standards in the house, too!

HELP END PUPPY MILLS – WHAT YOU CAN DO

And of course, the practice of puppy mills needs to be banned. So make sure to never adopt a puppy or dog from any store or owner in which you have not visited the breeding facility. In addition, visit Best Friends here to learn about 15 other simple things you can do to help.

-Monica Mosure

Work From Home Favorites: Making the Critters Happy and Dealing with Proper Ergonomics

rescue dog sleeping in pet bed

I have always been a huge fan of working from home, and was accustomed to always working a few days a month away from the office. But as many of us have had to adjust to a full-time work from home situation, I quickly learned it was an entirely different beast. Adjusting a fast as I could to the new work environment, I’ve now mostly settled into my new working space and mojo. To potentially help others, I thought I would share a few of my new work from home “essentials.”

For Those With Critters – A Great Pet Bed

As many know, I’ve fosters for more than a decade, and with that comes testing a ton of different pet products. I have pet beds all throughout my house, as I find some days I work better in one room than another. I recommend having a pet bed in any room you are working in consistently. You will find that rather than bug you, your furry friends will gravitate to a good bed.

And one bed has stood out as the house favorite. I find the cats and dogs cuddled up together in this bed often, and the dogs will “steal” it from each other if another gets up.

The cushion is removable and washable (this bed has been through things). It doesn’t pill or show aging as some well-use beds do.

Tyson – a cute adoptable Silkie Terrier with Ohio Fuzzy Pawz – steals away the favorite bed in the house from Gizmo.
Bailey and Bella Comfortable Couture beds are pet approved!

Headphone/Headset

I have found the best, most practical way to work from home if you need to be on calls or virtual conferences is to use a headset/headphones. My stand our favorite is Aftershokz. I admit, I was WAY skeptical at first. I assumed because it wasn’t in my ear I wouldn’t be able to hear correctly, and others would not be able to hear me either. It’s the absolute opposite. I can hear great for video and phone calls, it syncs effortlessly with my phone and laptop, and others report I’m crystal clear on their end.

And the biggest thing that makes these different is that you can hear ambient noise around you. This is HUGE if you are keeping these on all day while taking calls. I can easily have an impromptu conversation with a delivery person coming to the door with no problem. In fact, I forget they are even there. But once my phone rings, the headphones turn on and I’m ready to remote work again.  

There are many options of types and colors for Aftershokz headphones. Find your favorite on their website or through Smile.Amazon.

A Great Ergonomic Chair

I didn’t realize HOW GOOD my office chair was until I started full-time work from home. Without my standard office chair, my back has turned into a mess. I am currently working at getting a better office chair at home, but I’ll definitely be soon investing in a solid home office chair that is height adjustable and has the proper lumbar support. This is Ergonomictrends’ best of 2019 chair list: http://ergonomictrends.com/best-ergonomic-office-chairs-reviews-buyers-guide/ if you need some help.

Bad office ergonomics leads me to my next item…

Portable and Compact Massager

If you are like me adjusting to a new desk with a not-yet-perfect ergonomic fit, your back may hurt and your muscles may be tight. This Zyllion massager has been my go-to. It’s small, compact, and has a heat function. You can take it wherever you need it. In fact, I often turn this on while sitting at my desk during longer phone calls – killing two birds with one stone!

Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager is sure to get all your all of your muscle knots out!

What are your favorite things since working from home? If you have anything, please share your feedback in comments!

Pet Fostering: It’s Not Always Easy, But That Just Means It’s Worth It

Silkie Terrier adoptable dog

*pictured: My current foster, Tyson. Cute as a button, this little guy is sometimes very shy and scared. It’s taken a little extra time and effort to get him to warm up to me, but watching him learn to trust humans again makes it all worth it! As you can see from the food on his nose, he really gets excepted for dinner time, too.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”  I could not agree more, and it is particularly true when talking about fostering animals.

I have fostered dogs and cats now for more than a decade. Online I share stories, cute adoption pictures, and of course my fair share of posts asking for help with an animal.

To some, it seems like I’m a “natural” at helping these animals. Perhaps they think their fostering journey will or should look exactly like mine. Although I will admit I have some innate instincts that help, overall, it’s because I’ve made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of help, and a significant amount of trial and error.

At this point, I know so much because I have TRIED so much. I have seen so many different types of animals from different backgrounds come through my door. I have slept on my bathroom floor with scared dogs who couldn’t fall asleep on a bed or without me. I have also purchased and tested almost any dog and cat product on the market. I’m a master cleaner of #1 and #2s.

I’m constantly seeking knowledge from others who have more experience and expertise. Wherever I can, I try to share my knowledge with others when they need help. But I know a first-time foster will not have the same experience I now have after 30+ foster animals, and first time foster SHOULD NOT expect their first experience to be a breeze. After all, we would not expect to be able to play the piano like a concert pianist in our first year of learning. It’s not a realistic expectation. Same goes fostering  – or really to anything we at new to.

I’m telling you all this because I want to end the perception from so many that fostering will be easy and perfect. Many think a dog will come in perfectly potty trained and well adjusted. It will have no fears and walk on the leash perfectly. There will be no acclimation period with no squabbles with others.

I will tell you right now, this will never happen. There is ALWAYS something. After all, there is ALWAYS something that is not perfect about each one of us, too.

When signing up to foster a dog, we should anticipate problems. With your help, these foster animals have the chance to overcome some of the challenges and training issues they face. It won’t always be easy. But I promise you, it will always be worth it.

That is not to say you should be entering the journey alone and without support. The rescue you are working with should have point people to help you with specific questions, online groups to ask questions, trainer recommendations, and online resources. You should have family, friends and/or significant others that you can call on for help – sometimes two sets of hands are better than one! A terrific support network will be an essential part of any foster journey.

The first day and even weeks of having a foster dog in your home can have a tremendous impact on the entire outcome of the fostering process. I wanted to share a tool that was shared with me from a rescue group IHADRO. Many new fosters are either not provided this detailed information by their respective foster groups or choose not to follow the instructions.

PLEASE use this document as a starting point on your fostering adventure and resist skipping any steps. Think of the process like baking bread – miss one step, ingredient, kneed, or rise time, and you’ll be left without anything to enjoy.

Dog Foster Decompression General Guide provided by IHADRO.

Columbus’​ Growth: With Car Dependency, We Will Not Meet Projections

Public transit

Time for some bad news: Ohio’s population is not growing as fast as in other states. Even worse – its population is shrinking. People are heading to other states with better economies and better weather. Still, there is hope. Ohio cities – in particular, Columbus – are booming. But can that growth be realized without some major changes in our walkability and transit system?

Columbus Growth

Columbus has seen consistent job growth. This has been driven by the trend of young new professionals preferring to live downtown versus in the suburbs. Young people move somewhere they think is cool, jobs follow them, and the population booms. Columbus is the only part of Ohio to see substantial job growth and, consequently, the only part of the state to see population growth.

The Columbus region hit the 2 million mark in 2016 — and the latest estimated data indicates that we’re already at 2.4 million. If we follow that trend, we’re talking about a nearly 50 percent population increase over the next three decades. That is 3 million residents by 2050. Cities that aren’t growing are shrinking – growth is good.

Traffic and Resources

But, imagine adding another million people to the city tomorrow. How does that affect traffic, housing, water, and wastewater resources? If you think traffic in Ohio is bad today, just think about adding that many more people onto the road. Columbus needs to keep up with key infrastructure projects to support the growing population. The young crowd needs to continue to view Columbus as a desirable place to live. If they don’t, Columbus could see itself joining the rest of Ohio in a population decline.

City officials have started to plan for population growth with projects like upground reservoirs – a series of three reservoirs to provide enough water for the future population. The first, John R. Doutt Upground Reservoir, was built in 2014 and provides enough water for 1.5 million residents. It’s a good start, but city planners need to keep up to prevent a mad scramble in the future.

Make Dense Populations Enjoyable

Most people seem to view increased density as a negative. There have already been fights in Columbus over measures that would increase the density. Jeff Speck (an expert on urban planning and walkable cities) argues that it’s not an increased number of people that causes issues in an area, but an increased number of cars. He thinks the best way to make denser populations pleasant for residents is to cut the number of cars in the neighborhood.

Columbus ranks as the 32nd most walkable large city in the U.S., classified as a car-dependent city by walkscore.com . Now, compare that to two of the most densely inhabited and popular cities in our nation: New York and San Francisco. Walk Score ranks both in the top five as the most walkable cities in the nation. Why does walkability matter? Studies are starting to show what many people flocking to these cities already knew – walkable cities are more enjoyable and socially equitable, sustainable, and more profitable. More concerning for Columbus, the Foot Traffic Ahead report notes that the “U.S. metros where the public and private sectors work together to adapt and deliver increased supply of walkable urban places will be the economic and social justice winners of the next generation.” Do we all feel that Columbus – really all of Ohio –is making the adjustment needed now to deliver on that change?

How to Make Columbus More Walkable?

A highly walkable town makes pedestrians the priority. It makes them feel safe while walking. Measures to decrease speeding, like making lanes no wider than 10 feet, or eliminating turn lanes, are key to making pedestrians feel safe.

A robust public transportation system is key to a successful walkable city plan. With a good system, fewer people will need to drive. It takes a long time to build a well-functioning public transportation system that citizens want to use. It needs funding and support immediately for this to happen in time. This is the area where Columbus most greatly falls short. Experts agree that Columbus must quickly begin to diversify its options in mobility and move away from cars. If not, our population growth will be sure to fall short, as well as our economic vitality. In fact, large companies may already be passing on expanding in Columbus because of its lack of mobility and transit options. Most notably, Amazon listed access to mass transit as one of its top priorities for its future headquarters partner city, an aspect in which Columbus greatly fell short.

There is numerous ways to encourage and build more walkable cities. This graphic shows just a few ways in which stakeholders from all levels can be involved in making lasting, meaninful changes.

Working to Attract Outside of Ohio Talent

Right now, most of Columbus’s population growth is from people moving from other parts of Ohio – not from out of state. Realistically, it needs to attract out of state people to meet growth projections. City officials need to take a hard look at the shifting demands and needs of what people want from their home cities. How can Columbus be better at servicing their needs and attracting them into the city? According to the National Association of Realtors, 62 percent of millennials want to live in a city that is highly walkable, so improving on this aspect of the city would be a big step in right direction.

My First Foster: Letting Go Can Cause a Powerful Ripple Effect

There are SO many things I wish I knew before first becoming a dog foster. Today, I want to address the most COMMON concern I hear about fostering. It’s the #1 reason people give for why they can’t foster – they imagine it would be too hard to give up a foster. I hope my story on giving up my first foster can convince even ONE person to foster.

Maddie

When I first met Maddie, I had a BAD habit of spending hours cruising Facebook at night – like so many others. I have always wanted to help animals in some way, so I found several local dog rescue Facebook pages to follow.  One rescue, then named New Beginnings, posted pictures of dogs in need of rescue and foster care.

And there she was one day – Maddie.

She was a BEAUTIFUL Australian Shepard, who also happened to be deaf and blind. Unfortunately, that’s not all that uncommon (can we make breeding merle to merle illegal yet?!)

A SPEAK! rescue dog, Willow. Willow was born blind and deaf due to poor breeding practices.

I couldn’t stop checking the picture of her. Reading the post responses, it seemed that everyone was afraid to foster her – wondering how in the world a blind and deaf dog could possibly function. Some even questioned her quality of life. I was also curious, but it seemed like New Beginnings believed she could live a next to normal life, so why shouldn’t I believe that as well?  

I’m a  – I’ll figure it out – person, so this was the perfect time to use that mindset! I applied with New Beginnings for my first foster, was accepted, and expressed my desire to open my home to Maddie. Thank goodness they also believed I could give her a good home, despite knowing nothing about special needs dogs.

From the moment Maddie was in my house, she was an angel. An expert navigator, potty trained, good on a leash, and polite – this was one special dog.

I was continually amazed that she simply adapted to using touch and smell to almost mimic her other senses – often tricking people into thinking she had all her senses. The only thing that made it obvious she was different was that she had no eyes and would lead with her nose everywhere she went. She taught me so much, including using touch and smell to help train special needs dogs.

My older Husky, Solomon, took it upon himself to be her protector at the park – blocking her from running into people and things as she would roam around. They LOVED each other.

Solomon letting Maddie cuddle with him. He NEVER let any dog sit with him until he met her 🙂

I thought about adopting her, even put in the official paperwork. But after I submitted the documents, the rescue called me – someone else has also applied to adopt her! It was something I never thought would happen. I just figured, despite her being so good, that I was the only one willing to “figure it out”. It was a shock and a delight to know there were more people like me. 

I struggled with the decision. I had met her potential adopter – and I knew she would provide a good, caring home. She lived relatively close to me, so I knew I could potentially see Maddie again. I spent time checking my own gut feelings and figuring out where I wanted, and needed, to be in this dog foster world.

Did I want to adopt Maddie and call my journey in fostering over, or let her go and help another dog in desperate need of a temporary place to stay? After all, those who don’t get foster homes are left to languish in a shelter, or are often euthanized.

I decided my role was to help more dogs like Maddie find fur-ever homes. I let the rescue know they should approve the other applicant.

One of The Best Decision of My Life

Looking back, this decision was one of the most important decisions of my life. Not only did this adopter give Maddie a perfect home (and renamed her Dhalia), she FOUNDED the rescue Speak! for the Unspoken. Speak! rescues special needs dogs throughout the United States and, to this day, helps so many dogs. I cannot say enough about the hard work and dedication of everyone at this rescue, as well as the other rescues throughout Ohio.

Because of Maddie and, ultimately, my decision to let go (and a TON of hard work from countless volunteers and supporters), hundreds – heck maybe thousands – of dogs now have a second chance at life.

So, if you thought about fostering and think you won’t want to give your foster up – remember this story. If you had a chance to help a hundred dogs by letting go of one, would you do it?  Because chances are, that is what your fostering will do.

Side note: social media can be wonderful as you can often see update pictures of all your past fosters in loving homes.

Public Infrastructure – The Investment We Need to Make

Photo by Lex Photography from Pexels

Does saving $2,000 a year overall sounds good to you? If so, read on!

Public infrastructure is a bipartisan issue no one should ignore in the upcoming 2020 elections. It should be considered not just when comparing presidential candidates, but for all levels of state and federal government. Why? Because proper public infrastructure, or a lack thereof, impacts us all whether we like it or not. From the health and safety of our communities to the ability to efficiently and safely get home, infrastructure plays a part.

The scariest part about this entire conversation is that American’s infrastructure was given a D+. If our infrastructure was a student, it would be held back. The situation has not been improving over the last four years, if anything, it has stayed the same or even gotten worse. So, where do we go from here?

Public Infrastructure Definition

Public infrastructure is broadly defined as all facilities, institutions, structures, and systems that are considered essential to society, its economy, and its overall quality of life. In America, for example, we are blessed to have water treatment facilities that provide us clean and safe water at the turn of a knob – a luxury many countries do not have.

Public infrastructure is divided into these seven categories:

  1. Transportation
  2. Wet/Water
  3. Energy
  4. Information
  5. Government
  6. Institutions
  7. Public Space

The American Society of Civil Engineers ranks various public infrastructures in the US and analyzes the funding that needs to be given and the work that needs to be completed to improve our current state. The image below shows America’s current grades, and it does not look pretty. The single category with a B, our rail system, is little used in our country compared to the other categories. Perhaps that lack of heavy use accounts for the good grade? Of the rest, only THREE categories were given a C.

ASCE 2017 American Infrastructure Report Card

The Future

So, why does it matter if we continue to keep our infrastructure at an overall D+ level? For one, the economic impact is robust. With direct ties to GDP, employment, and even personal income, a failure to fix America’s infrastructure is a failure to support our overall financial well-being.

The video above explains how our underfunded infrastructure cost YOU an estimated $3,400 year. And that’s just the cost to families directly.

Overall, poor infrastructure will add up to a $3.9 trillion loss in the US economy (roughly $433 billion a year from when the report was calculated in 2017), $7 trillion in lost business sales, and 2.5 million jobs lost – all by 2025.

Not funding infrastructure also means a serious loss of health for Americans. Dirty and potentially contaminated drinking and swimming water, increased air pollution and potentially unsafe dams and bridges are all serious risks, and this is only naming a few. Are you willing to risk you and your family’s health by failing to demand a change and elect officials who will help correct this system?

Would You Pay $3 Per Day to Save $3,400 a Year?

Just like anything in life, fixing our infrastructure won’t come free. Funding American’s infrastructure is an INVESTMENT. Investments are defined as “the action or process of investing money for profit or material results.” So, let me ask you – would you be willing to spend an extra $3 a day, or $1,095 a year, if it meant saving you $3,400 by the end of that year? That a net gain of more than $2,000 in your pocket A YEAR!

If you answered yes, the solution is right at our fingertips. Through various proposed taxes, user fees, and increased corporate income tax, elected officials and candidates for office are willing to come up with funding solutions to help improve our overall quality life and ultimately put money back in our pockets.

These initiatives will need community support. Government officials need to know that you – the American public – wants to help fund these solutions so that you may reap the benefits in the long run. And if you like their proposed ideas to fund solutions, it’s important to reach out to your elected officials and tell them your thoughts!

Don’t know where to find your elected officials?  Check out this site that gives you links to federal, state, and local directories.

America – we’ve got this. Let’s show ourselves and the rest of the world that we can achieve better than a failing grade in infrastructure.

Survey: Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Inclusion and Diversity

Kari Mackenbach, CFM, BCES, ENV SP and I will be speaking about “More Diversity, More Profit” on Tuesday, April 28 at 10:45 a.m. at the ACEC National Convention.

But we need your help! We are looking to gather as much data as possible from AEC professionals regarding diversity and inclusion. So if you work in ANY role within the engineering , architecture,  and construction industries, please take 5 minutes and fill out our survey – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/aec-id-survey.

All responses due by March 13, 2020.

Interested in the results?

Join ms “More Diversity, More Profit” on Tuesday, April 28 at 10:45 a.m. at the ACEC National Convention. Following the conference, it will also be shared on the ms consultants Thought Leadership page.

 

Say “Goodbye” to the Professional Services Loss Leader

A caged dollar

It’s time we talked about a common industry term: a loss leader. A loss leader is a marketing strategy where an AEC consultant – or other businesses –  will take on a project or sell a product KNOWING it will lose money, with the hope to win a bigger project with the same client in the future, or to sell another product at a higher price in the future.

Looking specifically at professional AEC services, service providers taking a loss on offerings in any other aspect of life would be unacceptable – so why do we think this is OK in the engineering and architecture world? For example, do you expect a qualified contractor to renovate a bathroom in your house, taking a loss –meaning they are NOT able to pay their own bills or feed their family – on the off chance that you MAY ask that same contractor to do your kitchen renovation within the next few years? How about expecting your tax accountant to do your taxes for free, in the chance they will win your business for the next three years?

No.

And why not? The answer is simple.

  1. No qualified provider would EVER do work for free. Why would they? After all, just like us, they are providing services in exchange for payment with the plan to be able to stay in business and earn a living.
  2. There is no guarantee for them later down the road that you will even do a kitchen renovation (using the example above) and that you will, contractually, award them the job.
  3. It is not a fair business transaction. It is not reasonable to ask someone to work for free. Earning $0 an hour is not something that you personally would accept – outside of charitable giving. Why do you expect others to accept this rate?

Wouldn’t we all be better off if we offered our services at fair rates and paid providers fair rates for their services?

Fair Price for Offering Protects Everyone

Paying fair prices for services also protects the individuals purchasing services. After all, the adage, “you get what you pay for” is around for a reason. Quite possibly, getting something for free can cost you more in the long run thanks to the lower quality of building materials, workmanship, and even design related services.

From a provider standpoint, I ask you to forever resist the urge to provide any services for free. After all, you have worked hard to develop your skills, perfect your trade, and provide meaningful and important insight to every project you touch. You deserve to be paid for that. Do you need to charge for every little thing you do or say? – no. Just be cautious when toeing the line between simple due diligence and informational conversations and full-blown work deliverables and project solutions.

And this isn’t to say that AEC companies should not be thankful for the opportunity to provide services to a new client willing to give them a chance. But instead of providing services at a loss, I ask that perhaps clients give – and consultants accept – smaller work contracts first as a “test”, rather than expecting service providers to prove themselves by taking a financial loss.

Let’s work together to help keep our professional work experience respected and our communities safe from “free for a reason” work.

Columbus’​ Growth: With Car Dependency, We Will Not Meet Projections

Columbus Ohio syline

Time for some bad news: Ohio’s population is not growing as fast as in other states. Even worse – its population is shrinking. People are heading to other states with better economies and better weather. Still, there is hope. Ohio cities – in particular, Columbus – are booming. But can that growth be realized without some major changes in our walkability and transit system?

Columbus Growth

Columbus has seen consistent job growth. This has been driven by the trend of young new professionals preferring to live downtown versus in the suburbs. Young people move somewhere they think is cool, jobs follow them, and the population booms. Columbus is the only part of Ohio to see substantial job growth and, consequently, the only part of the state to see population growth.

The Columbus region hit the 2 million mark in 2016 — and the latest estimated data indicates that we’re already at 2.4 million. If we follow that trend, we’re talking about a nearly 50 percent population increase over the next three decades. That is 3 million residents by 2050. Cities that aren’t growing are shrinking – growth is good.

Traffic and Resources

But, imagine adding another million people to the city tomorrow. How does that affect traffic, housing, water, and wastewater resources? If you think traffic in Ohio is bad today, just think about adding that many more people onto the road. Columbus needs to keep up with key infrastructure projects to support the growing population. The young crowd needs to continue to view Columbus as a desirable place to live. If they don’t, Columbus could see itself joining the rest of Ohio in a population decline.

City officials have started to plan for population growth with projects like upground reservoirs – a series of three reservoirs to provide enough water for the future population. The first, John R. Doutt Upground Reservoir, was built in 2014 and provides enough water for 1.5 million residents. It’s a good start, but city planners need to keep up to prevent a mad scramble in the future.

Make Dense Populations Enjoyable

Most people seem to view increased density as a negative. There have already been fights in Columbus over measures that would increase the density. Jeff Speck (an expert on urban planning and walkable cities) argues that it’s not an increased number of people that causes issues in an area, but an increased number of cars. He thinks the best way to make denser populations pleasant for residents is to cut the number of cars in the neighborhood.

Columbus ranks as the 32nd most walkable large city in the U.S., classified as a car-dependent city by walkscore.com . Now, compare that to two of the most densely inhabited and popular cities in our nation: New York and San Francisco. Walk Score ranks both in the top five as the most walkable cities in the nation. Why does walkability matter? Studies are starting to show what many people flocking to these cities already knew – walkable cities are more enjoyable and socially equitable, sustainable, and more profitable. More concerning for Columbus, the Foot Traffic Ahead report notes that the “U.S. metros where the public and private sectors work together to adapt and deliver increased supply of walkable urban places will be the economic and social justice winners of the next generation.” Do we all feel that Columbus – really all of Ohio –is making the adjustment needed now to deliver on that change?

How to Make Columbus More Walkable?

A highly walkable town makes pedestrians the priority. It makes them feel safe while walking. Measures to decrease speeding, like making lanes no wider than 10 feet, or eliminating turn lanes, are key to making pedestrians feel safe.

A robust public transportation system is key to a successful walkable city plan. With a good system, fewer people will need to drive. It takes a long time to build a well-functioning public transportation system that citizens want to use. It needs funding and support immediately for this to happen in time. This is the area where Columbus most greatly falls short. Experts agree that Columbus must quickly begin to diversify its options in mobility and move away from cars. If not, our population growth will be sure to fall short, as well as our economic vitality. In fact, large companies may already be passing on expanding in Columbus because of its lack of mobility and transit options. Most notably, Amazon listed access to mass transit as one of its top priorities for its future headquarters partner city, an aspect in which Columbus greatly fell short.

There is numerous ways to encourage and build more walkable cities. This graphic shows just a few ways in which stakeholders from all levels can be involved in making lasting, meaninful changes.

Working to Attract Outside of Ohio Talent

Right now, most of Columbus’s population growth is from people moving from other parts of Ohio – not from out of state. Realistically, it needs to attract out of state people to meet growth projections. City officials need to take a hard look at the shifting demands and needs of what people want from their home cities. How can Columbus be better at servicing their needs and attracting them into the city? According to the National Association of Realtors, 62 percent of millennials want to live in a city that is highly walkable, so improving on this aspect of the city would be a big step in right direction.

Six Degrees of Separation – Why Not Make It Four?

speed networking

I was never a social butterfly in high school. In fact, I did whatever I could to get my work done as quickly as possible and not talk with classmates. I liked to be around people but was happiest listening to and observing what was going on around me.

In college that all changed. I still enjoyed listening to and being around people but started to find myself more comfortable openly interacting with individuals – close friends and complete strangers. This comfort level would become invaluable in my career.

That said, talking with people – especially complete strangers – is not something that comes naturally to most. This is particularly true within the engineering and architecture professions – haven’t we all heard the jokes about anti-social engineers? Many young professionals feel unwilling, or unable, to speak up and network when they are so junior in their careers. However, the single most important thing for anyone to do – and master – early in their career is networking.

The Value of Networking

Networking often gets overlook as an important skill because it’s soft, hard to measure, and hard to quantify the benefit. Additionally, it can take YEARS for your networking to really pay off, meaning don’t expect to see overnight results. Just like working out, it takes time, dedication, and consistency. I promise, if you put in the time, you will reap the benefits.

Say early in your career you make it a goal to meet two new people a month that you can reasonably stay in touch with. One year later you will have met 24 people. Two years later, 120. Now think if each of those those 120 people introduced you to two of their friends, expanding your network of people to a total of 360!

As you can see, if you network and stay active in keeping up with relationships, your range of contacts can become quite wide and diverse. This helps when you are looking later to connect with people who have certain work backgrounds, an expertise in which you need advice, or can help you get an introduction to someone you are trying to meet.

Six Degrees of Separation

This brings us to the six degrees of separation law. The law states that we are six people away from meeting anyone on the earth. If there is someone you would like to meet, you just have to work through a maximum of six contacts to get to that person. Person 1 introduces you to person 2, person 2 introduces you to person 3, and so on, until you reach your goal contact.

What does this mean for networking? The wider and larger your pool of contacts, the easier it will be to reach that person you are hoping to meet. The six degrees of separation law tells us that it’s possible for us to be introduced to anyone, so create a big contact list to make it easier on yourself. Who knows, maybe you will find you only need four degrees of separation to reach that person!

Be Authentic and Interested

It’s important to keep in mind that you have to be authentic while you are networking. If you are networking solely for self-gain, people can smell that a mile away. You need to be interested in people, with no interest in really gaining anything. Ask more questions and talk less. Let the person tell you their thoughts.

You need to cast your networking net wide. You never know who will have an important contact. Everyone is worth the effort. Everyone has value. You also need to cast your net deep. Meaning, don’t just flit around and have a superficial chat with lots of people. Find something you have in common with or find interesting about a person and dig into that. This will solidify you in that person’s mind, will make them feel good, and might teach you something new or give you a new perspective on something you already know.

If you have been actively working on networking, keep up the good work! If not, time to start talking!