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what we do

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

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sustainable

We seek innovative design solutions which provide a balance of environmental sensitivity, social equity, and economic viability. We are committed to creating sustainable places that meet today’s needs, while being conscious of how we will live tomorrow . We don’t give lip service to sustainability – we live this in our office, in our homes, and in our practice.

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creative

We believe everyone has something to offer. Our firm is based on a flat organizational structure, providing opportunity for all of our staff to be involved in decision-making processes. We find this enhances the design process and results in a superior final product.

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design

EnSite, Inc. is a leading Florida based design firm. Our services include Planning, Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Urban Design, Sustainability, and Graphic Design. Our team is committed to the long-term success of the communities in which we live, work, learn, and play.

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"The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river." - Ross Perot

 Join the Million Mile Movement for a healthy Lee County

 Join the Million Mile Movement for a healthy Lee County

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 Join the Million Mile Movement for a healthy Lee County

The journey of a million miles begins with a single step. Well, that's not the actual quote, but you get the gist. Maybe resolutions don't seem meant to stick, but with thousands of people to keep you accountable, how could you fail? If you're thinking no one has that kind of support system, just join the Million Mile Movement!

EnSite is proud to sponsor this fun community-wide challenge to get us all up, moving and healthy for the long run. Register at this link and you can then log in at anytime to log your miles accumulated running, walking or biking. If those activities just aren't up your alley, don't sweat it - there are a dozen types of movement that count toward your goal. And your progress inspires others.

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To kick things off personally, our Jon Romine recently completed the Disney World Marathon. He's on the steering committee for Healthy Lee. Weather you're working up to 26 miles or a half a mile, every bit of progress helps and is worth celebrating! Jon has his own personal cheerleaders in his wife and daughter. When you join the Million Mile Movement, you'll get an amazing amount of support and the vitality you cultivate will make you want to set farther and farther goals. It all starts with the first step. Go!

 Old buildings and the creative pressures of constraint

 Old buildings and the creative pressures of constraint

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 Old buildings and the creative pressures of constraint

Sometimes, a famous quote says something so sensible, so obvious, that it becomes absorbed into common consciousness to the point that the original speaker gets lost in the mix. "The Greenest Building is...One That Is Already Built" was the title of architect Carl Elefante's article for the summer 2007 issue of the journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was a "Well, duh" moment for those of us engaged in sustainability-minded design and architecture, and it became an often repeated phrase within those circles.

Although it represented the most common of common sense, humans are still very human, and the results of our endeavors haven't always matched our aspirations. Elefante has certainly seen a greater emphasis on historic preservation, which increases community character and pride, while offering opportunities to model future development after the personality of existing buildings and build sustainability into the resulting cityscape. Yet, thought leaders like him continue to observe a discouraging reticence to tackle the most vexing sustainability challenges in a forward-thinking manner.

Let's reaffirm Elefant's "Greenest Building" assertion and apply it in terms of economy. It's naive to think money isn't the way to policymakers' hearts. It's a beautiful economy that comes with preserving historic buildings. The building's already built - that's number one (duh). Then there is the tourism and community pride that comes with it.

Then there's the economy that comes with constraint, which is one of our greatest tools as designers. Isn't it interesting how having less to work with generates the biggest ideas? Take a look at this article to see how one company is making the most of old buildings that still have good bones. The constraints of an old building generate creative pressures for adapting the inside of that building. More for our purposes, old buildings in an urban environment exert constraints that encourage economy-building applications of multi-use and infill development. That's the kind of green that can bring in a lot of green.

 Resolve to live artfully in 2017

 Resolve to live artfully in 2017

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 Resolve to live artfully in 2017

It's time to hang a new calendar on the wall and stand before the promise of a brand new year. We're a little tired of the same ol' resolutions and got to thinking about the kinds of changes that can really "stick." There's so much going on around Lee County in terms of the arts that we considered what it would mean to live more artfully in 2017.

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The city of Fort Myers requested another extension on the public art display consisting of the whimsical, large-format sculptures placed throughout downtown. The Gardner's Park arts district plan has been approved by the city. And the Alliance for the Arts campus enrichment project is getting closer to realization. It just seems like the stage is pretty well set to enjoy more art this coming year. That's a good thing!

What's even better is when you can find ways to nurture your own inner artist. Do you have an old guitar collecting dust? Have you ever wanted to learn how to sing or dance? Was there a time in your life when you were able to dedicate some energy to painting or drawing? Do you have a half-finished novel or book of poems in a drawer somewhere?

Our friends at the Alliance offer classes for kids and adults in dozens of art forms, and will happily direct you to other area arts centers to help you find your spark. What stands in the way between you and your easel, pottery wheel, camera, pen, typewriter, accordion or dancing shoes? Just some limiting beliefs that, along with your 2016 calendar, can now be discarded?

We at EnSite wish you a very happy, healthy, prosperous new year. And we believe that once you make space for a little art in your life, that resolution will pretty much keep itself.

 Eating the future - FGCU's food forest

 Eating the future - FGCU's food forest

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 Eating the future - FGCU's food forest

Money doesn't grow on trees, the saying goes - at least not directly. But when sustainability, food security and good environmental stewardship does, the economic benefits can't be far behind. While the kids are out of school, it's a great time to plan a visit to Florida Gulf Coast University's Food Forest. It's a good chance to show them that produce doesn't grow on the shelves of your grocery store, and they may even be inspired to pursue an education in environmental science or agriculture and join up with the FGCU Food Foresters.

A food forest is a self-sustaining large-scale edible garden designed using the principles of permaculture. In the 1970s, permaculture movement pioneers Bill Mollison and David Holmgren described an “integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man.” That's pretty abstract. A visit to the FGCU Food Forest will demonstrate a productive ethic that mimics the patterns and cycles found in nature to provide for the needs of people for years to come.

The students working on the food forest now are leaving a living legacy. Future generations of students will continually reap the rewards of working with a mature food forest. Returning alumni will experience a whole little world seeded by their design and labor, and can tell the story of where it all began. The future is tasty, and can teach us all a lot about the wisdom of nature and how to improve our lives in harmony with it. Then, there's the whole gratification of seeing young people take control of the future. Dig in!

 Gardner's Park gets an early Christmas present

 Gardner's Park gets an early Christmas present

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 Gardner's Park gets an early Christmas present

"Good things come to those who wait" goes the saying, and the business owners and residents of Gardner's Park are soon to be rewarded for their patience. Located just east of the Downtown River District of Fort Myers, Gardner’s Park is bordered by Fowler Street to the west, Evans Street to the east, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the south and the Caloosahatchee River to the north. When the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency initiated a planning effort to redevelop this older, established neighborhood in the fall of 2014, Ensite took its lead from the community. Now, the city has given the go-ahead, as the Fort Myers News Press recently announced.

EnSite looks forward to continuing to work with the community to honor the historic character of Gardner's Park while instituting greater connectivity, walkability and smart development. This neighborhood is bound to become a destination for arts and events, fostering a livelier, safer, more prosperous future.

EnSite is helping Gardner’s Park become a destination for art, shopping, dining and recreation

 Saving darkness like an endangered species

 Saving darkness like an endangered species

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 Saving darkness like an endangered species

How far do you have to go to see just a few stars? If you can step onto your front porch and see the same constellations that the Greeks and Babylonians named, you're in a minority of modern humans. Have you ever seen the contour of the Milky Way with your naked eye? It's an awe-inspiring experience that, sadly, fewer and fewer of us get to enjoy.

The good news is that the problem of light pollution is now getting publicity. The better news is we're not helpless to stop its worsening or reverse it by many degrees. Recently, the south Florida treasure that is Big Cypress has just become the first National Preserve in the U.S. to earn its official Dark Sky Park accreditation. The International Dark-Sky Association is the outfit in charge of handing out that designation. Big Cypress is now the:

"...first of the 19 National Preserves to achieve Dark Sky Park status. It is the first National Park Service (NPS) unit east of Colorado to earn this designation and only the sixteenth NPS unit in the country to do so. The national preserve joins Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in central Florida, which was designated earlier in 2016 as the first International Dark Sky Place in Florida."

It's a big deal! The park had pretty dark night skies already, compared to neighboring regions. (Just check out this light pollution map and search for Florida to see us lit up like a Christmas tree on fire.) The preserve has had to work to get into compliance with guidelines governing outdoor light fixtures, for instance. Now it is a premiere place to view the heavens either on your own on a backpacking trek or at one of the upcoming public astronomy events.

If you haven't been beyond the reach of light pollution in a while, plan a trip into the dark. It just might inspire you to ask, why can't my city do better at reducing light pollution? Good question! And good night.

 When music becomes place

 When music becomes place

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 When music becomes place

"My music is going inexorably from being about place to becoming place,” John Luther Adams told The New Yorker back in 2008. He's not suffering delusions of grandeur. This contemporary American composer is widely regarded as a master of textural sonic sculptures whose genesis can be found in the birdsong, cracking glaciers, prairie thunder and crashing ocean waves of Earth's various landscapes.

We can easily identify the naturalistic elements that wend themselves through Stravinsky's "Rites of Spring." Copland's treatment of an Appalachian experience of that same season is beloved for its joyful celebration of the mountain, and more especially the people of the mountain, but it attain a vibrant degree of "mountainness," it doesn't threaten to "become" the mountain.

Put on some good headphones and listen to Adams' "Earth and the Great Weather," and you'd be hard pressed not to appreciate an actual sonic landscape - a place - that you inhabit from the ears inward, and back out to your skin. Those goosebumps would arise if were you transported to the composer's beloved Alaska. And who's to say you aren't in fact transported?

A good place to start is the below episode of the excellent WQXR podcast series "Meet the Composer." Adams brings us along on his journey to modern composers like Frank Zappa, a rock and roller named Dennis, California, an avant garde mentor named James Tenney, and eventually, Alaska.

Adams' friend, author Barry Lopez, has said, "Landscape is the culture that contains all human cultures." Adams is perhaps not as well known as other sonic pioneers like John Cage, Philip Glass or Steve Reich. Conductors, musicians and academics have singled out Adams as a master of landscape - music that edges toward "becoming place." Have a listen, and see if the outer landscape gives way to a more expansive, inner landscape, if the room around you doesn't shrink from consciousness, if the world "out there" doesn't become more real yet inscrutable, unforgiving and beautiful.

Enjoy the experience of entering a "natural geographical cathedral in sound," as composer JoAnn Felletta has called it. It just might forever alter your idea of landscape and place.

 A road to gratitude

 A road to gratitude

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 A road to gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming up, we at EnSite have turned our thoughts to gratitude. It gets a lot of lip service during this time of year; the trick is to cultivate it in daily life. It's worth it - we all know that when we concentrate on that which gives us joy, we navigate the world in a more mindful, grounded manner. But just because it's simple doesn't make it easy.

We came upon an excellent blog post today by an urban planner named Kristen Jeffers, who calls herself The Black Urbanist. We used the word "navigate" just a moment ago, and the thing she gives thanks for is her special means of navigating between different parts of identity and domestic life - a country road. We'll let you read her post on the subject of that road, which is much more than a means of getting from point a to point b.

Ever sing "Over the River and Through the Woods" on a holiday visit to grandmother's house? A road is cause for reflection on the connections between our relatives, the stories that hold those connections together and our place within a story greater than ourselves. As Ms. Jeffers reminds us, it's also a chance to give thanks for the diversity of our American terrain and our experience of the urban transect.

Which roads will you travel during the upcoming holidays?

 Strides for Education 5k 2017

 Strides for Education 5k 2017

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 Strides for Education 5k 2017

header-2kwWhat are you looking forward to in the Florida "winter" months ahead? For us, it's the 6th Annual Strides for Education. It's always a great event, a chance to compete, run for fun or stroll and enjoy some fresh air and good neighbors. Even better, all the proceeds benefit the Take Stock in Children program through Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. That mentorship and scholarship program is a particular EnSite passion.

We hope you'll take our lead, and consider sponsoring this important fundraising event. We'll also have a team and multiple runners from EnSite. This year it takes place on the beautiful Fort Myers campus of Florida Southwestern University starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. The Kids Dash is one of the highlights. It's all about our young people, after all. But there are so many great features at this race that make it a "must" for SWFL  race enthusiasts.

Click here for more info and to register!

Here's Jon from a previous race, pictured with the Foundation Director Marshall Bower and another serious runner. Just don't tell him we used his photo. He is so shy.

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 Stay or go - a smoldering city

 Stay or go - a smoldering city

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 Stay or go - a smoldering city

EnSite is all about placemaking. And of course we have a passion for cities. We love Cape Coral and Fort Myers, where our teammembers live and work. We can't imagine having to leave our city. So what happens when the choice to do so is presented to us by circumstances beyond our control?

We came across this episode of that great podcast Radiolab the other day, and just can't stop thinking about it. Anybody remember about Centralia?

A fire has been burning under that Pennsylvania city since 1962 (or maybe even earlier)! From a population of 1,000 in 1981, it has dwindled to only 10. The only place there that keeps growing is the cemetery because even those who chose to leave, still love it enough to come back to be buried.

That's sad, but the radio program addresses some really interesting themes and dilemmas. Plus the hopeful notion that cities just don't die. Except when they do. Stay or go - what would you choose? Have a listen.

 Soft skills are hard - FutureMakers will change that

 Soft skills are hard - FutureMakers will change that

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 Soft skills are hard - FutureMakers will change that

Kids these days! Well, it wasn't so long ago that some of us at EnSite would have rolled our eyes at that statement. The truth is, colleges are churning out graduates with top notch technical skills that have no experience writing a business letter, conducting themselves in a room full of business leaders or even answering the phone. As a recent article in the News-Press indicates, the lack of so called soft skills (i.e. the fundamentals for conducting one's self in life and business) in the workforce is a big problem for employers. Turns out you can't blame the kids - it's been a problem forever.

As it always does, the FutureMakers Coalition have identified that urgent need and are creating solutions. An intensive curriculum and a pilot program to roll out that curriculum to college kids is in the making.

The FutureMakers is accepting applications from businesses and nonprofits to be part of it all. The result is that they, and the Southwest Florida community, will have a more robust workforce that in addition to technical skills, also have a firm grasp on critical thinking and collaboration. Here's a link: futuremakerscoalition.com/proposals. This will have to be a weekend project for you, though, because applications are due Nov.1! Think fast, the future is now.

 Cleaning up a city - it's not rocket science

 Cleaning up a city - it's not rocket science

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 Cleaning up a city - it's not rocket science

We enjoy stories about individuals who identify a problem, and though they be but one, go all in to make a difference. Here's one of those. If one guy in a city as big as L.A. can look around and decide something needs to change - and make it happen - who's to say what any of us can do, no matter where we are and what the issues are? You'll see in a few minutes that "it's not rocket science."

Trash is a problem every city has to conquer. In some places, the solution is elaborate. In the case of the man who's been dubbed El Baserero (garbage collector), it just takes using the tools at your disposal - like a phone app.

We don't have 311 in Southwest Florida yet. However, we do have plenty of ways to own the solutions we encounter by communicating with city and county officials, voting in elections and getting our neighbors involved in making their community a better place to live. This film speaks for itself. Impressively, it was made in under 10 days as part of the Urbanism Filmmaking Challenge at this year's New Urbanism Film Festival. Director Joe Shapiro was inspired by Joel Epstein's presentation on the LA311 app, and we think you'll also be too.

 Sustainability is sexy

 Sustainability is sexy

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 Sustainability is sexy

That's...probably a word we haven't used before. And we mean to be a little provocative. Because as much as EnSite's clients are savvy about sustainability, as are our projects' stakeholders, sometimes it take a little extra sumthin' sumthin' to get people's attention.

That's why we latched onto this guy's sculptural solar-powered electric bike creations. Heads will turn, as ours did, when one of these beauties passes you by. His work also highlights an important concept - that form and function must operate in concert. We don't believe that sustainability should be built into a project at the expense of appealing design, nor should it ever have to. Likewise, an elegant design shouldn't be at odds with sustainability concepts. Further, we'd argue that as an appeal to the senses and to the heart, beauty in and of itself is a sustainability concept.

We also like what Josh says about having kids and how it shifts your priorities so you want to make the world a better place. Who can relate?

 STEM@Work brings careers to kids

 STEM@Work brings careers to kids

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 STEM@Work brings careers to kids

It's the most wonderful time of the year...sorry, no, we're not jumping on the early merchandising bandwagon for the winter holidays. That's not our line of work, anyway. But it is STEM@Work kickoff time! That means we get to talk to 9-12 graders about the opportunities available to them when they dig deep into science, technology, engineering and math. Here's Jon Romine at Cape Coral High School on Tuesday.

What he said! We want kids to find their passion, to develop their skills so they can have a fulfilling career and make our future workforce strong and diverse.

STEM@Work provides Lee County students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to not only learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), in the workplace, but to experience creative critical thinking and problem solving utilizing STEM in the real world.

Students selected to participate in STEM@Work will visit several area businesses during the 2016-17 school year to understand first-hand how valuable STEM skills are to local employers looking to hire new employees.

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools determined that students need more opportunities in STEM-related fields. The National Science Foundation estimates that 80% of the jobs created in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills. Besides, those skills are important for a well rounded education. It's so much fun to get into the classroom and see the next generation of our community leaders. It never gets old, and Jon thinks it keeps him young. Well, he is a kid at heart.

Making multi-modal transportation a priority

Making multi-modal transportation a priority

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Making multi-modal transportation a priority

Florida is known for a lot of good things - citrus, beaches, amusement parks, Dave Barry.... In the yearbook of states, however, it's also known by an unfortunate superlative: ("One of the) most likely to incur bicycle and pedestrian fatalities!" Ugh. It's a known problem that's not going to get any better without a good, hard look at the way our communities are organized around cars and not people. That was the idea behind a regional transportation summit held last week, brought to you in part by our friends at Streets Alive. A Realtors group was also behind the project. That makes sense. Those engaged in selling Southwest Florida as a wonderful place to live aren't limited by grapefruit trees and Gulf views. Dangerous streets can be a real deal breaker, though.

Walking and biking should be a healthy activity, not one in which you feel you're taking your life in your own hands every time you hit the pavement.

As our friend Tessa LeSage of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation said on Gulf Coast Live last week in advance of the summit, the freedom to choose from various modes of transportation means greater accessibility, economic development, social equity and sustainability. No one's advocating that we leave the automobile behind, which wouldn't be practical anyway. (LeSage used one of our favorite expressions when she said, "It's tough to get the toothpaste back in the tube.") Although wouldn't it be nice sometimes to choose to walk, bike or take public transit instead? Options=good.

Plus, great connectivity makes healthier, more vibrant communities that can take advantage of infill development strategies and begin to tackle sprawl.

What is it going to take? The post-World War 2 sprawl development model is often held up as an unsurmountable barrier. It isn't. As Streets Alive's Ann Pierce said during that same radio segment, if Colorado can do it, we can, too. It takes a community that's engaged in designing its future. It takes political will. We're encouraged that Mayor Henderson put together that Walkability Summit last year, and that multiple elected officials, plus the Lee Memorial wellness director, took part in the Transportation Summit.

We've got the conversation starting. Let's walk the walk.

 In Fort Myers, science is the future - and history

 In Fort Myers, science is the future - and history

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 In Fort Myers, science is the future - and history

The Imaginarium Science Center and the Southwest Florida Museum of History will soon be under one roof. To Lee County residents, that will make a lot of sense.

In much of popular culture, science and technology are framed in the future tense - think the Jetsons and Epcot's Tomorrowland, both of which ironically seem quite dated to modern audiences. The City of Palms, however, owes much of its future success to the scientific exploits of its past residents. Aside from its climate, beaches and other natural resources, Fort Myers deals in historical currency (excuse the pun).

What would the city's identity be without the legacy of the Uncommon Friends, and the lure of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates? Some of those men are challenging, complex figures, but inventor Thomas Edison; automobile magnate Henry Ford; tire manufacturer Harvey Firestone; surgeon Dr. Alexis Carrel; and aviator Charles Lindbergh owe much of their legacies to science. And Fort Myers owes much to their legacy.

Our Jon Romine is president of the Imaginarium Group, Inc., and has been involved in a two-year planning process to move the history museum from the former railroad depot to the Imaginarium facility. The history museum will enjoy more space, better lighting and the capability for vastly increased patronage. The city will enjoy cost savings, Southwest Florida residents and visitors will enjoy the side-by-side experience of science and history, as it should be.

As the two museums merge, a rebranding and new museum experience is planned to weave history, culture, science and technology together, to bring the story of Southwest Florida to life for many generations to enjoy together.

Photo credit: Sarah Morand

 Parklets let you

 Parklets let you "live" more where you live

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 Parklets let you "live" more where you live

Think about the city or town where you live. You sleep there. You shop there. You go to school or a job there. But how much living do you actually do in your city itself? Do you feel like you can hang out on the sidewalk, take in the sights, enjoy conversations with your neighbors, meet new people? In many cities in America, people travel and work in their cities, but do most of their living at home or at a community asset like a park. For some, a park is not always near enough to take advantage of with any regularity. That's why we love the parklet concept.

A parklet is an extension of a city sidewalk where people can relax and hang out. It might be sponsored by a nearby business, but it is truly public space - no pressure to purchase the sponsor's products. San Francisco is the leading model for the success of parklets. And a group called SF Pavement to Parks is advocating the concept with a lot of success.

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As an individual expression of a community's character, parklets enhance neighborhood pride and identity. They can help de-emphasize the role of the automobile while elevating the status of pedestrian and biking transportation. Businesses, artists and citizens can foster cooperation by sponsoring a parklet together. Parklets provide outdoor furniture and encourage interaction between neighbors. They highlight the creativity of their sponsors with an artistic design or theme. They provide trees and other greenery to improve personal serenity and public health, which is especially important when more mainstream parks are far away.

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Which sidewalk, street or alley where you live could use some sprucing up? Maybe you have a living room at your home. Wouldn't it be nice to have your choice of outdoor "living rooms" throughout your community? It sure would be nice to "live more" in one's own city, and parklets represent a democratic community builder to accomplish more...living. Check out this video:

Parklets Build Community from SF Pavement to Parks on Vimeo.

Photos by San Francisco Planning Department

 McCollum Hall - Restoring the future

 McCollum Hall - Restoring the future

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 McCollum Hall - Restoring the future

Fort Myers has made its name largely on the historical legacy of people like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. There's a lot more legacy here that deserves preservation, and that can further enhance the region's prestige and economic vibrancy.

The McCollum Hall restoration project is now underway, bringing the promise of renewed energy and excitement to the place that once was a significant hub of our nation's cultural heritage. Located in what was once considered the heart of the Dunbar community, the brick-faced building on the northeast corner of Cranford Dr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd had languished in a state of disrepair for many years, a fate entirely unbefitting a venue that proudly showcased such greats as Duke Ellington, B.B. King, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

Here at EnSite, we talk a lot about the future of a place. Mixed-use development, walkability and other "new urbanism" approaches often really amount to the application of smart, sustainable design principles to promote old-fashioned values like community engagement and pride. We are proud of the City of Fort Myers and the Community Redevelopment Agency for securing an important grant from the state to push the renovation past the starting gates.

With the Imaginarium Science Center occupying the opposite corner and McCollum Hall's prospects of again becoming an active civic center for the Dunbar community, the footprint of Fort Myers' cultural future grows. More than that, its cultural past paves the way. Some of the past needs to be left there, such as the policies and attitudes that had our jazz greats performing on a segregated "Chitlin Circuit." The thing about the future, though, is it can be designed intelligently based on the lessons we choose to learn from the past.

We hope the city can achieve designation of McCollum Hall on the National Register of Historic Places. It's going to take the will of the community and creativity on the part of our officials. And now that the exterior has gotten a facelift, another $2 million or so will be needed to bring the inside up to snuff. As the social media campaign asserts, #ThisPlaceMatters

Photo by Ebyabe

 Make like a tree, and breathe

 Make like a tree, and breathe

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 Make like a tree, and breathe

Never let anyone tell you 1% isn't a big number. Consider a 2014 study by the U.S. Forest Service. For the first time, an estimate was produced to illustrate the cumulative air pollution removal effect by trees all across the country. What an undertaking! The Northern Research Station, which performed the study, reported, "While trees’ pollution removal equated to an average air quality improvement of less than 1 percent, the impacts of that improvement are substantial." Let's bring this to a human scale:

Lives saved annually = 850

That's a lot of folks who matter to other folks. Aside from allowing those folks to remain among the living, the 1% effect also greatly enhances the quality of their lives:

Incidences of acute respiratory symptoms prevented annually = 670,000

The study was unprecedented in its scope to directly correlate tree's air pollution removal effect nationally with better outcomes for health. A couple years before, a study was performed by the same organization - another first - to find such a correlation on a city-scale level. The result: "urban trees and forests are saving an average of one life every year per city. In New York City, trees save an average of eight lives every year." Wow!

Take a deep breath. Now thank a tree. And how about doing something to increase the number of trees in your community? Plant a tree! The life you save could be your own.

 Care of Florida's environment begins at home

 Care of Florida's environment begins at home

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 Care of Florida's environment begins at home

Waterways woes continue to dominate the news in Southwest Florida. The problem is so big, what can any one of us do to make a difference? The good news is there is one thing we can do. And the more of us who do, the bigger the impact. So what is this one thing? Make your yard beautiful! Let's qualify that: Make your yard Florida-beautiful. That means applying some basic principles in your landscape that will improve the health of the environment while your outdoor space reflects your personality.

The best part is there's plenty of help to get you on your way toward Florida-beautiful landscaping. A great place to start is the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Homeowner Program. It's brought to you by the experts at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services. As they put it, "The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Homeowner program educates homeowners about how to design, install, and maintain healthy landscapes that use a minimum of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. The result? Low-cost, low-maintenance, attractive landscapes that add value to your community and reduce the chance of polluting the water supply."

At this link, you will find free resources to download, including the FY&N Handbook, which is arranged in informative chapters around the 9 core principles of Florida-friendly landscapes:

  1. Choose the right plant for the right place
  2. Water efficiently
  3. Fertilize appropriately
  4. Mulch
  5. Attract wildlife
  6. Manage yard pests responsibly
  7. Recycle yard waste
  8. Reduce stormwater runoff
  9. Protect the waterfront

It's really pretty simple, when you break it down to these basics. Wouldn't it be fun to be the envy of the neighborhood? You can even work toward earning gold or silver Florida-Friendly Landscaping status, with a sign to prove it. Be a trendsetter! This is one trend that's very sustainable indeed.

what inspires us

shellie johnson

shellie johnson

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shellie johnson

The Mother Hen The quality of life that a community has to offer is only as good as what its residents are willing to work for. The people at EnSite make Shellie Johnson excited to come to work everyday. “I work with a fantastic, energetic and creative group that is respectful of one another and most important, likes to have fun,” she said. Working with and taking care of the needs of a small firm is a natural extension of small-town home life for the LaBelle resident. Loose ends are a foreign concept to Shellie, as her focus on details runs deeper than even her credentials from the American Institute of Certified Planners can testify. Shellie is one of EnSite’s owners and in her role as Planning Director, she assists private clients in gaining development entitlements to property. She also assists government jurisdictions with daily planning tasks such as development reviews and regulatory amendments, and with long-range planning projects. When she’s not at work, Shellie volunteers as President of the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corp. The group’s efforts have not only made good on its name, but it has also caused a resurgence in residents’ pride in their community and instilled a sense of ownership in the beautiful historic downtown. She enjoys being part of a small town and contributing her time and energy in preserving its sense of community while creating opportunity to encourage younger generations to stay there and prosper. Shellie is a recent widow who enjoys being close to her three stepchildren. Her three dogs run her life. She likes spending time in the outdoors, hiking, and kayaking. She loves to eat great food.
brent gibson

brent gibson

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brent gibson

The Solutions Guy Work smarter, not harder. Brent Gibson enjoys the laid-back, open culture and family-like atmosphere of the EnSite office, which he thinks promotes creativity. “Also, everybody has a voice in what happens with the company. Whether you’re the newest employee or one of the owners, your ideas will be heard and considered.” That flat organizational structure also has a way of encouraging folks to reach beyond their job descriptions to do whatever it is that has to be done. As Lead Designer, Brent does most of the civil engineering design. He also oversees production management, and is responsible for scheduling and getting the designs and plans out the door to clients and municipalities. He also serves as the in-house IT guy. The McGregor Veterinarian Clinic is one of many projects that served as a proving ground for Brent’s creative problem-solving skills. While employing low-impact development techniques, the EnSite team met the challenges presented by Lee County’s newly drafted Compact Communities Planned Development zoning code. This code emphasizes mixed-use and compact development, rather than separate uses with the large setbacks often seen in sprawl development. Brent has been married to his wife Emily for 16 years, and the couple has three boys and a girl between eight and 15 years old. He enjoys playing golf and basketball, and coaches youth basketball at the local YMCA. He’s also on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is a mentor in the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools STAMP program. Twitter: @BGib4
brian smith

brian smith

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brian smith

The Design Doctor Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Golden Rule was frequently evoked by the single mom who raised Brian Smith and his older sister. Another favorite quote was “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Brian said, “Watching her struggle through life taught me the values of hard work and determination to make a better life for the family. She is certainly my early inspiration and drive to do better and to work hard and value what I have and to cherish family always.” Fortunately, coming to work at EnSite means much more than a paycheck to him. An EnSite owner, Brian values his co-workers, the atmosphere, and the variety of projects the team gets to work on. As Director of Land Design for the company, Brian is responsible for site planning and project management. It’s thrilling to prepare a plan that exceeds the client’s expectations, whether it is a 4,000-acre new community or a .75-acre commercial project requiring innovative design solutions. “Problems” is a word he banishes from his vocabulary. There exist, rather, solvable issues, and the team works with surgical precision to work out solutions to those issues. Few people are aware that Brian’s alternative career path would have led him to being an emergency room doctor. He maintains that laughter is the best medicine, and employs plenty of humor in his work and family life. He and his wife of 15 years, Christy, have two boys, aged 13 and 11. In keeping with his mom’s example, he says, “They are everything to me.” His family enjoys spending time outdoors.
jonathan romine

jonathan romine

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jonathan romine

The Big Picture Thinker There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. - John Wooden EnSite owner Jonathan Romine is obsessed with metrics. Aside from hard numbers, he has a major soft spot for people. Every day represents a new opportunity to help someone succeed or empower a whole community of “someones” to make a better future. Of course he pays close attention to the many details of running the business, from finance and investment to R&D and marketing strategy, but it’s the big picture that really matters. By maintaining everything in ship-shape condition, EnSite’s team can consistently deliver optimal results for its clients. His biggest consideration is the company’s culture, which is at the heart of everything EnSite does. On the practice side, Jonathan’s official title is Director of Landscape Architecture, but he describes himself as a “mentorholic.” All staff members are given room to grow their creative talents, develop their leadership skills, and pursue their dreams. Moreover, the organizational structure is horizontal, meaning no one holds a monopoly on good ideas. Jonathan’s passion is making a positive impact on the community in which he lives, works, learns, and plays. Therefore, he’s especially proud of EnSite’s public sector and non-profit projects, such as parks, community planning, redevelopment/infill plans, and arts and cultural institutions. Jonathan has a daughter, Ava, with wife Megan. He loves sports and travel, and supporting these community organizations: The Imaginarium Science Center (current President of the Board), The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools (Board Member and Mentor), Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce (Board Member), Rotary Club of Fort Myers South. Twitter: @rominejl
matt horton

matt horton

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matt horton

The Boundary Pusher It’s in the doing that the idea comes. Like every team member at EnSite, Matt Horton enjoys the horizontal structure, which affords him the opportunity to work in the trenches, where the best ideas come from. Top-down organizations often suffer some delusion when they think innovation can come from the ivory tower. As Director of Urban Design, Matt has been able to push boundaries and enjoy the freedom to develop innovative solutions. Every EnSite project is special, but a particularly gratifying one is Gardner’s Park in downtown Fort Myers. “This was probably the most fun of my career, because the owners and residents were very enthusiastic and helpful throughout the project,” he said. Starting out as a guava farm in the 1800s, Gardner’s Park is a lively district featuring community events, galleries, boutiques, cafés, theater, and attractions such as The Burroughs Home & Gardens, The Butterfly Estates, and the Langford-Kingston Historic Home. When he’s not leading EnSite’s urban design activities, Matt is doing the important work of being a dad to his two sons, ages eight and nine. Beyond those two jobs, he finds there are even more boundaries to push: having completed the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in Sarasota after losing a bet, he was hooked and has been training and competing ever since. He’s done three Ironmans, but not the big one in Hawaii…yet.

what makes us awesome

"There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit." - John Wooden

2012 Horizon Council General Business Award

2012 Horizon Council General Business Award

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2012 Gulfshore Business 40 under 40 Award - Jonathan Romine

2012 Gulfshore Business 40 under 40 Award - Jonathan Romine

2012 Florida Commissioner of Education Business Recognition Award

2012 Florida Commissioner of Education Business Recognition Award

2012 Chrysalis Award for Sustainability

2012 Chrysalis Award for Sustainability

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2012 Lee County School District Business Partner of the Year

2012 Lee County School District Business Partner of the Year

2010 Blue Chip Finalist

2010 Blue Chip Finalist

2010 Creating Better Places Design Competition - First Place Overall

2010 Creating Better Places Design Competition - First Place Overall

why ensite

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." - Winston Churchill

EnSite, Inc. has been passionate about improving the Southwest Florida community since it was founded in 2005. The firm is focused on sustainable design that engages and inspires. It achieves its award-winning results through a fanatical commitment to communication plus its unique combination of creativity, technical expertise, project management efficiency, and intelligent teamwork. We believe that any company’s ability to deliver results that exceed expectations is a necessary function of its organizational culture. EnSite’s culture, which is at the heart of everything we do, strongly emphasizes empowerment and accountability, collaboration, innovation, and a meaningful investment in the communities where we live, work, learn, and play. It’s a privilege to offer our services, which enhance the quality of life of the place we call home, including land planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and urban design. Every client receives focused personal attention by working directly with a principal of the firm, while EnSite’s collaborative team structure increases design efficiency and promotes creative problem-solving and creativity, leading to well managed projects and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. EnSite’s unique business model enables our clients to enjoy the talent, assets and results of a large firm, but with competitive fees and top-notch personalized service. Our principals possess great communication skills and are intimately involved in every project from start to finish—they personally plan, design, permit, inspect, and certify every single one. Our community engagement doesn’t end with our many projects. EnSite’s team members are engaged in many service organizations and projects outside of work. And as a team, we reach out to local schools, universities, municipalities, and organizations through our EnRichment program to educate students of all ages and establish relationships and civic engagement to further enhance the experience of living in Southwest Florida.

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EnSite, Inc.

2401 First Street
Suite 201
Fort Myers, FL 33901

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