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Not Your 9 to 5 with Kevin Sweetland

Posted by: Hannah Thomas
Posted: May 23, 2020
Categories: Not Your 9 to 5, Professional Development, Civic Engagement, IndyHub

Lifetime Hoosier resident and architect, Kevin Sweetland’s investment in Indianapolis goes beyond his 9-to-5, where he is literally shaping our city as a landscape architect at  ‎Rundell Ernstberger Associates, LLC. With his talents and passion for public spaces, Kevin has taken part in the Rethink 65/70 Coalition to help serve as a conduit for the broader public to understand the levels of bureaucracy that go into projects of this scale. 

So we know you’re a Hoosier through and through, but tell us more about how you made your way to Indy. 

I followed my passion and made my way north to attend Ball State, it’s like I never looked back. Ball State has an internship program that allows you to study a lot in Indianapolis’ during the summer. I liked the city and decided to plant roots.

Okay! Well – chirp,chirp- to all our Ball State grads reading this. We heard you might have a unique collection of something that totally makes sense for an urban planning to tinker with … care to share?

Oh, legos – yes, my son and I have a massive collection of legos. We’re spending a lot of time during the current stay-at-home orders building all kinds of things. 

Speaking of the current stay at home orders, how else are you spending your time during social distancing?

I am taking advantage of the extra time at home to work in my garden and complete several projects I started before the lock-down. Fortunately, I am way better at starting home projects than completing them, so I have a large backlog of unfinished projects to choose from.

I am also getting out to the park more often with the family and our dog, Rufus. For Rufus, quarantine has been great.

So from Rufus back to after you left Ball State, what compelled you to stay focused in the architecture field?

A big part of the draw was/is the chance to have a recognizable impact. As a person who is fascinated by the histories of cities, the chance to become a part of the record through design is incredibly exciting. The historic nature of the Rethink 65-70 project and the value it could add to Indianapolis is a big part of the reason why I have dedicated so much time to the effort over the past couple years. I feel like it’s my civic opportunity to give back and be a part of history. 

And we know nothing feels the same right now so how has this global pandemic changed the way you’ve stayed civically engaged?

It’s honestly not too much different than it was before. This year I’m spending more time committed to staying engaged with the Coalition – and we’re working with Arup, a world-renowned infrastructure consulting agency, to study the downtown inner loop interstate system. Their team is a collection of experts from around the world. To coordinate, we use various online tools. That obviously has not changed. That said, we had to cancel a site visit that was scheduled at the beginning of the lock-down, but we were able to successfully supplement that exercise with an online tour of the city and the interstates. I like being able to provide a younger voice, I want Indy to grow and feel like home to other young professionals. I think we have to think progressively to stay relevant. 

As we end our time together we have one more question and it’s become a favorite of ours during a time with things seem so uncertain – what is bringing you hope during the current global crisis? 

For me, the onset of spring has helped dampen the emotional strain that comes with all the uncertainty and self-isolation. As I look out my back window, I can see all the freshly blooming Red Buds that speckle the landscape in my neighborhood. Those trees and the season renewal comfort me.

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