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  • Tuesday, March 01, 2016 2:58 PM | Mitchell Elliott (Administrator)

    As we step into the month of March, the madness isn’t only associated with college basketball…unless of course, you live in Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Virginia.  Then brackets are everything! 

    For those of us in the northern climates, March Madness involves the anticipation of “getting out of the ground” with construction.  If your schedule has worked out perfectly, the drawings were finished around Thanksgiving, the bidding occurred over the winter, shop drawings have taken place over the past month, and you are ready to rock and roll with construction.  Chances are, your schedules haven’t been perfect.  That’s where some additional madness comes into play.

    In the Midwest, our March Madness stems from the question…”where have all the contractors and subcontractors gone?”  We are seeing large swings in bids and overages in costs that are having a significant impact on projects.  It seems that from 2008 until around 2013, only the strong survived, leaving less competition in almost all of the construction trades.  As I manage projects from the provider/owner perspective, it is demotivating to reduce scope after the fact.  As an architect, I completely understand the dilemma of cost estimating in this current environment, so I am not throwing stones at my fellow architects and contractors! 

    I believe one of the key strategies to confronting this March Madness is bracketing…the bracketing of the communication between architect, designer, owner and contractor.  Sorry…I just couldn’t resist a well plantedplay on words.  Our world is changing at a very fast pace and the more we communicate our challenges, our expectations and our solutions, the better.  Collaboration will also enhance our communication.  No one has all the answers…even in this volatile, political environment, it takes a huge effort in working together to survive the madness of this time of year.

    If collaboration and communication don’t relieve some of the madness of March, go ahead and fill out your bracket.  The Kansas Jayhawks have my vote!

  • Monday, February 01, 2016 2:42 PM | Mitchell Elliott (Administrator)

    During the last week in January, I had the opportunity to lead an eight-member team from the Vetter organization on an adventure.  We spent the week building a house for a homeless family in San Luis, Mexico.  A father, a mother, and four children ranging in ages from fifteen to three, were living in an 8x8 garden shed in the backyard of the in-laws…all sharing one bed.  With an average daily income of eight dollars, there was no way this family could get ahead to have their own home.

     We worked with Homes for Hope, based out of Yuma, Arizona, to make this dream a reality for this family.  We battled gusty winds in the Mexican desert, power failures, equipment failures and sand everywhere.  It was only by God’s grace that we were able to complete the 12x30 home in four days.  The Vetter team learned a lot about ourselves and each other.  Very few of the team had significant experience with construction.  Together, a nurse, an administrator, a social worker, an accountant, two receptionists, a CADD specialist, and I relied on each other’s strengths, compensated for our weakness, and rallied together to build this home.


    The mission's coordinator kept reminding us that we were really building relationships with the people of San Luis.  The house was a bonus.  I couldn’t help but apply this to what we do as a part of SAGE.  Yes, we provide and create environments for seniors…but in reality, we are building and nurturing relationships…relationships with our design community, with our clients, with our vendors…even with our regulators.  It’s not always about the house!


    On the last day of our week-long venture, we had a dedication ceremony where we presented the house to Carlos, the patriarch of the family.  He wouldn’t look at me as I handed him with the keys.  Part of his response related to their Mexican culture.  Part of his response came from a bit of humiliation that he wasn’t able to provide for his family…that people from far away came to build the home for his family…a home that he couldn’t provide.  He was grateful for the home and he humbly expressed that to us later. 


    I wonder if many of our residents in our senior living communities quietly respond in a similar way.  Many can no longer provide for, or care for, themselves.  We create wonderful communities with amazing care-giving teams and say, “no worries….we have provided for you”.  As I reflect on our trip, I challenge you, as well as myself.  How can we do what we do, while protecting the dignity and honor of those who live in our communities? 

  • Thursday, January 21, 2016 9:55 AM | Mitchell Elliott (Administrator)

    Welcome to the new SAGE website!  We hope that you will find this new and improved site more informative, more functional, and more engaging. 

    This website redesign honors the history and heritage of this twenty-one year old organization.  We are grateful to those pioneering visionaries who saw the need for this passionately collaborative organization.  It is our hope that we can build on the legacy upon which the organization was founded and built.

    While we honor our heritage, we are excited to look into the future.  As we announced earlier this year, SAGE has hired a new administrative assistant, Lori Bridgeman.  Lori brings to the organization, administrative depth and creativity like no other.  She will support the SAGE officers and board of directors in our efforts to build membership, and more importantly, member value. 

    Speaking of member value, please make sure and consider registering for this year’s Environments for Aging Conference (EFA16).  This is an amazing conference that attracts over 700 attendees, including architects, interior designers, senior living providers, regulators, researchers and industry representatives…basically the make-up of our membership!  Emerald Expositions is our new partner in this conference and based on our planning work with their team, this event will be bigger and better than ever.  As a SAGE member, you will receive a 10% discount on the conference registration.  This virtually pays for your membership!  Please go to for more information. 

    Finally, SAGE would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Anjum Alden with Anara Consulting for her amazing work on the website rebuild. It was a huge task to not only create an entirely new look, feel, and website navigation, but also to migrate our membership database over to this new platform. We couldn’t have done it without her, and I do not hesitate to recommend Anara Consulting for any website or blog needs to take your brand to the next level. I also would like to personally thank our former board member and secretary, Rob Pfauth, for the countless hours he dedicated to making this new site a reality. 

    If you have any comments, concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact either Lori Bridgeman ( or me.

    Mitchell S. Elliott, AIA

    SAGE President

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