The Cornerstone Group

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TCG 2010 Reflections

The TCG team reflects back on a successful year and looks ahead to 2011…

COLLEEN CAREY

What was the highlight of working at The Cornerstone Group in 2010?

The highlight of my year was working with an outstanding team of people who have an amazing, unrelenting commitment to doing great work. As a team, we’ve led the way to accomplish our goals for the Geo Eco Lab, our new sustainability initiatives, urban agriculture and more.

What new TCG program (urban gardening, rooftop farming, Geo Eco Lab) are you the most excited about?

I’m excited about all of the new programs on that list, so it’s hard for me to choose! If I had to pick one, I would have to say the Geo Eco Lab. I’ve already created new partnerships and changed the way we work based on our experiences there.

What personal accomplishment are you the most proud of this year?

I turned 50 and successfully finished my third marathon in October. (Colleen ran her first and second marathons at age 30 and 40, respectively.)

What was your favorite cultural discovery this year?

In one word – Italy! And all that comes with it: history, architecture, pizza, Chianti, gelato, cappuccino… 

What person has made the biggest impact on you this year?

My partner Pam, who continues to love and support me in the face of all of my shortcomings and many commitments.

What is your most significant professional goal for 2011?

I want to launch a new development project that showcases all we’ve been learning and includes all of the amazing people we’ve met.

Do you have any predictions for the real estate industry in 2011?

I predict that it will continue to be slow. There will be opportunities, but you have to be clever and open to new possibilities! This is a very interesting time to be alive – not just as real estate professionals, but as people. There are so many challenges, and yet those challenges create so much opportunity. It’s exciting to figure out how to navigate those opportunities – as individuals, as business people and as a country. 

 

BETH PFEIFER

What was the highlight of working at The Cornerstone Group in 2010?

The highlight of 2010 was watching us achieve a number of the goals we had established at the beginning of the year. We succeeded in completing construction and leasing the Lyric to 100% occupancy; harvested our first rooftop farm; and planted our first community garden at Rivertown Commons. 

What new TCG program are you the most excited about?

I am the most excited about all of them! It’s impossible to choose. Just having projects like this in our portfolio makes me excited. I’m thrilled to work somewhere that is leading the way in collaborative, innovative thinking.

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of this year?

Personally, I am most proud of the completion of the Lyric. It is a beautiful building, and everyone who participated in the project had an important role in making it so special. We had a great team. It’s a testament to the building’s design and amenities that it leased up so quickly. I can’t wait to see how the University-Raymond District continues to improve as the Central Corridor comes through.

What was your most important cultural discovery this year?

I did a lot of reading this year on health-related issues. I discovered something I have always known at an intuitive level – that the way we fuel our bodies with food has a huge impact on our physical, mental and social well-being. 

What person made the biggest impact on you this year?

My husband Wes. This was a tough year for us and brought more challenges than either of us ever hoped to handle, especially all at once. Wes was amazing and showed me that we could handle anything that came our way. In his calm and quiet way, he kept it all together, and for that I am immensely grateful!

What is your most significant professional goal for 2011?

In 2011, I would like to put into practice the holistic development approach that we have been working hard to learn in 2010. I would like us to get at least one development underway that incorporates the themes of sustainability, public health, art, transit, cycling and urban agriculture.

Do you have any predictions for the real estate industry in 2011?

I predict that 2011 will be a great year for getting the ball rolling. People will be ready to slowly start climbing back up from the bottom of the market and putting the pieces in place to start construction on new projects in late 2011 or early 2012.

 

ELAINE SWENSON

What was the highlight of working at The Cornerstone Group in 2010?

I’ve only been here three years, so everything still feels new. TCG is an ever-evolving and changing environment. Historically, property management has been my background, which is a business that requires a lot of repetition and isn’t particularly creative. Working at TCG has given me the opportunity to continuously explore new experiences. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work somewhere that inspires fun, creativity, innovation and collaboration.

What new TCG program are you the most excited about?

I love all of them, but the most exciting program for me has been the rooftop garden. It required us to build a new climate “off the ground” in what is traditionally a non-growing environment. It’s really an untapped space; there isn’t a volume of information out there that tells you how to do it, so we’ve needed to figure it out with our team. In general, all of our urban gardening initiatives have been great for getting people engaged and encouraging them to try gardening for themselves.

What personal accomplishment are you the most proud of this year?

I have always adored my dad. I feel like he walks on water; he has been a tremendous cornerstone in my life and in his community. I lost him this year, and my faith was really tested. I didn’t think I would get through it, but I did. My faith in the Lord sustained me through a very difficult time. I still miss my dad, but now I know I can get through anything.

What was your favorite cultural discovery this year?

I took a week off to go to Florida with a business associate. We visited Anna Maria Island and met with some of the local farmers. I’ve never seen a four-season gardening and farming operation up close. It’s very different from here. Meeting the people and having the opportunity to understand their business was very valuable.

What person made the biggest impact on you this year?

Again, I think this would have to be my dad. I learned who he really was in the community. I’m constantly reminded every time I go home that he was a humble, lowly farmer; however, he was also a man that had a profound impact on the people around him. It was very powerful to see him celebrated by so many of the people who knew and respected him.

What is your most significant professional goal for 2011?

I have two primary goals for next year. First, I want to finish my double degree in business administration and finance. I started the process when I was 20 and only have a few classes left. Second, I feel like I’ve really found my way here at TCG and want to start producing more income for the company. 

Do you have any predictions for the real estate industry in 2011?

I think it’s going to be the same as it is now. When we finally see progress, I think it will be slow.

Anything else you would like to share?

Working at The Cornerstone Group is a privilege. This year has been surprising in terms of all that I’ve learned. In particular, Colleen has coached me on how to work with people (like Ben) who are in their twenties. I think that has helped me with my interactions with my own kids, too.

 

BEN HERTZ

What was the highlight of working at The Cornerstone Group in 2010?

There were many highlights this year! The first that comes to mind was being able to work on our urban farming initiatives, including Kensington Park’s edible gardens and rooftop farm, and Rivertown Commons’ urban garden. Urban farming is something that is so innovative and progressive, and yet also has so much to do with what I’m passionate about – how our cities work and the impact they can have on people’s lives. It’s fun because it’s putting into practice exactly what I studied in school!

What new TCG program are you the most excited about?

I’m really excited about the growth of urban farming on the ground; specifically, the positive impact that urban farming can have on lower income communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access to sustainable agriculture. I’m also really excited about the promise of rooftop farms. It’s not often that Minneapolis is on the leading edge. To have been a part of something so progressive is really cool. 

What personal accomplishment are you the most proud of this year?

I realized my strong networking and sales skills. I’m proud that I was able to successfully market such innovative products and programs.

What was your favorite cultural discovery this year?

At the beginning of the year, I had honestly given up on the Internet. However, being tasked with developing TCG’s new Web site and social media communications allowed me to discover new blogs, Web tools and e-commerce opportunities that reignited my interest in the medium. 

What person made the biggest impact on you this year?

Probably my boss Colleen. She allowed me to create new opportunities and simultaneously created opportunities for me. Lucia Watson and her farmers also had a significant impact on me. They taught me the behind-the-scenes side of sustainable agriculture.

What is your most significant professional goal for 2011?

I always have a strong desire to change the world, but this year I’d like to figure out how to actually do that!  A lot of my work at The Cornerstone Group is finished. The foundation has been laid.  I would like to gain exposure to other people’s programs and practices, and then help them change and progress. I want to learn how I can make a bigger impact on communities.

Do you have any predictions for the real estate industry in 2011?

I think that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the “Innovation Revolution.” People and business are the factors that led to a pivotal change. There were a lot of global events that led up to the Industrial Revolution. We’ve seen the same thing recently. People who don’t jump on the Innovation Revolution will be left in the dust.

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