Retaining Walls

ImageRecently, my neighborhood association embarked on a somewhat ambitious project (ambitious for our little community, anyway) to replace all of our treated-lumber retaining walls with a more long-term and maintenance-free option. In the end, the board chose a concrete block system with a stone appearance. This segmented retaining wall system not only is aesthetically pleasing, but the two-tone colors blend seamlessly with the facade of the homes in the neighborhood. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results, and I suspect my neighbors approve as well.

Until this project was underway, I never gave much thought to retaining walls, having never built one myself or requiring that one be designed and built for me. Of course, I have written about them in the past and published articles from industry experts, but then I moved on to other projects – other articles. Now, however, I have a newfound appreciation for retaining structures. I take notice every morning of the new wall outside my home as I leave for work. It always puts a smile on my face. That new wall isn’t just retaining soil; it has beautified my community, increased my pride in my locality, and undoubtedly improved property values.

When was the last time you thought about the retaining walls in your neighborhood, or in your own backyard? Are you missing out on an opportunity to improve the appearance of your home? Better still, have you completed a retaining wall project recently that you think deserves to be shared with the masonry design community? If so, please let me know. I would be happy to consider it for publication in the magazine.

What’s Your Creative Process?

Every creative person has his or her own process for developing and finishing projects, whether it is a job or a hobby. Call them quirks. Call them idiosyncrasies. Whatever you want to call them, creative individuals need this routine in order to complete the task at hand. For my own creative work – the writing part of my job – I have a series of steps I must go through for each article before the final step of sitting down at my computer to compose the first draft.

Of course, my work starts with research and interviews, but the quirk of my writing process is the composition. You see, once I have all of my notes together and I know generally what I want to say with a certain article, I will “write” it in my mind before a single word is typed at my keyboard. I will think about the article for days, working it out in my head exactly what I want to write. So, when I finally sit down to compose an article, I will know how it begins, what I want to say in the middle of the article, how the article will be structured, and how it should end. Most people probably do this with notes or an outline, but I’ve just always worked it out in my mind. It’s just the way I work.

This might not be the most efficient or practical way to work, but the process works for me. It is just my way of doing things, of getting the job done. In thinking about my own process recently, I started to wonder what your creative processes must be like. Surely, you each have specific, or perhaps peculiar, ways of getting the job done. How could you not? You work in a creative field and often are tasked with finding new ways to do your job. So do you have a unique creative process that others find quirky and idiosyncratic? Tell me what this process is, how it works for you, and why your coworkers raise their eyebrows. I’ll understand, and perhaps other readers will too. Who knows, you may inspire someone to adjust his or her own creative process.