Meet Dijana Alickovic

Board Member Dijana Alickovic on the coast of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

As Epicenter has grown this year, we’ve continued to add new board members and we’re excited to announce the addition of Dijana Alickovic! Read our short Q & A below to learn more about Dijana, her work, and her passion for Epicenter.

Epicenter: What’s your background?
Dijana: I’d say it’s very colorful. I studied architecture and completed my master’s degree in architecture at the University of Utah. Before graduating, I spent some time with From Houses To Homes, a nonprofit organization in Guatemala constructing homes for families in need. This experience led me to develop a passion towards communities that have potential to improve their built environment and social activity. I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Utah County and NeighborWorks where I focused on designing residential single family homes. In 2009, I held an AmeriCorps Vista position, as a Housing Coordinator, with the International Rescue Committee and also co-founded Common Studio, a nonprofit with its vision to provide design architectural services to nonprofits and to individuals who could not afford otherwise. Between 2009 and 2014, I, collectively with other Common Studio members, provided schematic design for a small-scale school, orphanage, single family home, and interior office remodel. We worked with Haitian Roots to provide a design for the Children Village which consisted of classrooms, kitchen, caretaker house, visitor center, office, garden, and playground. We provided interior design services to Higher Ground Learning Center in Salt Lake City,​ sustainable concept design for a Habitat for Humanity home, and ​the Afghanistan Orphanage. In addition, we lead Debris Design competition​ that focused on removing materials from the waste stream in post-earthquake Haiti and using design to alter them for new daily-life uses. From 2011-2016, I worked as an architect with Prescott Muir Architects, focusing on retail, banks, high end residential, and a library. Wanting to focus more on architectural design for community service providers, outdoor industry, and national parks, led me to work as an architect at AJC Architects. Projects that I’ve been working on since include higher education and three new Homeless Resource Centers in Salt Lake County.

E: Where are you from and where do you now live?
D: I’m from away! My life stretches between Bosnia, where I was born, and the United States. Due to armed conflict in Bosnia, I resettled in the United States and I have been living in Salt Lake City since. The beautiful Wasatch Mountains tied me down and I’m happy to call them home.

E: What’s your connection to rural Utah? Green River specifically?
D: Being an outdoor enthusiast, the road would always lead me to Southern Utah, but little did I know I would be continuously visiting Green River! In 2009, during an AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer orientation, I met the Epicenter founders. Since then I have developed a heavy interest in Green River.

E: What made you want to join the Board of Directors at Epicenter?
D: I’ve been familiar with the organization since it was founded and always had a fondness for its mission. It has been inspiring to watch Epicenter’s accomplishment in Green River. I’m excited to be part of their team, to contribute to their success, and to learn from the community.

E: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
D: To fly! I love traveling the world, learning about new cultures, climbing mountains and flying would easily accommodate all of that.


Dijana has been a friend of Epicenter since our beginning, and we couldn’t be happier that she’ll now be joining us in an official capacity. Her knowledge and experience in architecture and nonprofits will be vital in pushing our programs forward and she’s already been a key partner in developing our housing strategy. Welcome to the team, Dijana!


Meet Ren Hatt

Community Coordinator Ren Hatt in front of the famous Green River Watermelon Float

Our other new Community Coordinator is Green River native Ren Hatt. Get to know Ren and what he’s going to be doing with Epicenter in the interview below.

Epicenter: You’re originally from Green River. What brought you back?
Ren: I’d lived in metropolitan areas for the last several years in the midwest and the south, and I wanted to live closer to family and home.

E: What did you do while away (inc. experience specifically applicable to this position)?
R: I completed law school at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio and then worked for Tennessee’s branch of Medicaid as a policy specialist in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve worked with a bunch of state institutions and other municipalities to see goals reach fruition on large and small scales.

E: What made you want to work with Epicenter? What are you most excited about?
R: I want to see Green River succeed and excel. I’ve been very excited about how many organizations there are in Green River dedicated to just that, and Epicenter seemed like the best fit for me. So when the position opened, I was eager to apply. I’m excited to work closely with businesses to aid in city revitalization.

E: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
R: Telekinesis, but not like parlor trick telekinesis–like beyond omega level mutant telekinesis.

E: How do you spend your free time?
Writing, general outdoor activities, video games, and tabletop games.

E: What is your favorite movie?
The Dark Knight is what I come back to most often–but I love movies, so it changes often.


Epicenter is lucky to have Ren’s experience and passion for Green River going forward. His experience helping manage and write grants for his family’s business is going to be a great help for our local small businesses we serve. We’re glad to have him on board for the summer and possibly beyond!


Meet Annalee Howland

Community Coordinator Annalee Howland (bottom) with wife Tammy.

Next up on our series of new faces at Epicenter is Community Coordinator Annalee Howland. Learn more about her story and what she’ll be doing with us in the interview below.

Epicenter: You’re originally from Green River. What brought you back?
Annalee: Green River has always been home to me. Even though I moved out of Green River at the ripe age of 6, my family had a business, several properties, and life long relationships here that have kept me connected. I’ve been planning my return to the area ever since the day we packed up and left; it took me 30 years but I finally got here. Never give up on your dreams!

E: What did you do while away (inc. experience specifically applicable to this position)?
A: Previously I spent 10 years in St. George, UT working in healthcare administration where I managed assisted living facilities. I moved back to Eastern Utah and decided to change my path. I signed up to be an AmeriCorps VISTA and served the United Way of Eastern Utah for 2 service terms. After my service ended, I took a position at SEUALG as a VITA Program Director and the CDBG Coordinator. After moving back to Green River, I obtained my NREMT-Advanced and currently run as an Advanced EMT with Emery County EMS.

E: What made you want to work with Epicenter? What are you most excited about?
A: I was excited to apply for the Housing Community Coordinator position at the Epicenter, because I feel I have the experience and skills to add to the organization to advance their goals and am looking forward to being part of this team!

E: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: If I could have one superpower, I would love the gift of “shape-shifting”. The ability to literally be a fly on the wall, or to experience being a bird or a fish. Sounds kind of funny when I actually type that out, but…. it’s true.

E: How do you spend your free time?
A: I spend my free time on our funny farm, where my wife Tammy and I have been working hard to restore my family’s ranch house on the river. We are going on two years of working towards completion, and while we have come a long way, there is still a lot to be done! We love to get out on the river whenever we can, but most days we are tending to our small unofficial animal rescue that has developed on our property. I am hoping someday to have some free time, but life is good!

E: What is your favorite movie?
A: If I listed them all, it would be a very very long list because I can’t just pick one. BUT! I can tell you I have never seen ANY Star Wars movies, Harry Potter movies, or Lord of the Rings and I plan to keep it that way.


In just a short time with us, Annalee has already taken charge of some big projects and we’re excited to see them take off!


Apply to Be an Enterprise Rose Fellow at Epicenter


Epicenter is honored to announce that we will be hosting an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow for 2019-2020!

Applications are due July 22, 2018 at 9:59pm MT.

Click the link below for details.

Learn More & Apply


Meet Jason Wheeler

We’re excited to kick of a series of posts introducing some new faces at Epicenter with board member Jason Wheeler, an architect and Executive Director of ASSIST Inc Community Design Center in Salt Lake City. Below is a brief interview with Jason about himself, his work, and his involvement with Epicenter.

Epicenter: What’s your background?
Jason: My background is shady… but only when hiking through stands of aspen trees. I studied construction management at BYU as an undergraduate, then completed a master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Illinois. While in school, I took multiple extended “leaves of absence,” first to complete volunteer service in New York for my church, then to gain some hands-on construction experience (also in New York), and finally to study European architecture for a year while my wife taught English at a university in Lyon, France. Following completion of my master’s degree, I began my professional career as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow at Color Country Community Housing in St. George, Utah, improving the energy efficiency of affordable housing in the desert southwest. Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, I completed the final year of my fellowship at Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. in New York City, where I directed the FAR ROC Design Competition and helped create the Sandy Design Help Desk centers as part of Enterprise’s Superstorm Sandy task force. From 2013-2016, I worked as an architect at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture in Omaha, Nebraska, focusing on housing for seniors, historic preservation, and custom home design. With a little bit of nudging from my non-profit colleagues, I moved back to Utah in 2016 to take my current position as Executive Director of ASSIST Inc Community Design Center in Salt Lake City.

E: Where are you from and where do you now live?
J: I was born and raised in Hyde Park, Utah, a bedroom community just north of Logan. I currently live in Salt Lake City.

E: What’s your connection to rural Utah? Green River specifically?
J: I grew up in rural northern Utah, and my first job out of graduate school was in southern rural Utah. While I was a Rose Fellow, I worked on projects across a wide swath of rural southern Utah including Blanding, Springdale, Ivins, Washington, Kanab, and Cedar City. It was also during that time that I first encountered Epicenter and gained an appreciation for the work that they are accomplishing in Green River.

E: What made you want to join the Board of Directors at Epicenter?
J: Epicenter has an incredible talent for telling the story of rural spaces in an engaging and graphically compelling manner – I am excited to join the board of Epicenter both to learn from their expertise and hopefully contribute to their continued success in shaping rural Utah!

E: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
J: To solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than 30 seconds. That, or being able to ski through revolving doors. Flying wouldn’t be too bad, either.


Jason has already been a huge help to Epicenter and we’re looking forward to having his expertise on our board and working with him in the future. Stay tuned in the coming week to learn about our other new staff and board members!



2017 Annual Report

Since Epicenter’s humble beginnings back in 2009, we’ve maintained a holistic approach to our work which we believe to be critical to our success. We are dedicated to Green River and our work, constantly building on what we do and redefining how we do it. Our future is bright with plans to develop more housing, to continue revitalizing our historic downtown core, to host more artists/designers and events, and to keep building the future we envision alongside our community. Follow the links below to see what we accomplished in 2017 and make a tax-deductible donation to help us continue our efforts in 2018 and beyond.





Maria Sykes Named Executive Director

Tristan Wheelock_GR Wide (388 of 434) (1)
Epicenter staff: Jarod Hamm, Maria Sykes, and Steph Crabtree. Photo Credit: Tristan Wheelock.

It’s with great pleasure that we announce Maria Sykes as the new Executive Director of Epicenter. Maria brings with her the institutional knowledge she’s gained as an Epicenter principal, and an undying passion for the community of Green River.

Last year Epicenter switched to an executive directorship model. The previous leadership model served the organization well and Epicenter has grown substantially in the past few years. In an effort to support that growth and ensure long-term sustainability, the board of directors has decided that hiring an executive director is in the best interest of the organization. The board of directors undertook an extensive call-for-applicants, interviewed several candidates, and ultimately decided Maria’s combination of experience and passion for both Epicenter and Green River were the ideal fit for the position.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Auburn University, and brings nine years of experience in rural community development as Epicenter’s former Principal of Arts and Culture. During her time at Epicenter, she has co-led the renovation of a 100-year-old building using mostly volunteer labor and an inconceivably tight budget; co-founded the Frontier Fellowship which has now hosted over fifty artists/designers; and facilitated countless successful workshops, projects, and community initiatives. Maria has been working in in this field for less than a decade, but the work has already been honored many times including by Utah Governor Gary Herbert. She is a home-owner in Green River, actively partners with the City of Green River and Green River High School, and recently sat on the board of trustees for Green River’s John Wesley Powell River History Museum.

“I am incredibly honored to be the first Executive Director of Epicenter, an organization I co-founded and had the pleasure of co-directing for many years. What appealed to me most about the privilege to lead Epicenter was the opportunity to continue developing a single strategic vision for an organization that I love in a place I now call home. The organization’s approach in our first eight years was experimental and groundbreaking, but it’s due time we reflected on our past efforts in order to refine our practice. As Executive Director, my first and immediate goal is to strengthen our local partnerships. I am currently assessing our past work and revisiting the community’s needs. With this knowledge in mind, Epicenter is drafting a new strategic plan, recruiting new talent, and refining our programs and systems. Overjoyed with the potential, I welcome you to join me in this next phase of Epicenter.”

-Maria Sykes

Please join us on May 7th from 6-8PM at Epicenter (180 South Broadway in Green River, Utah) for a barbeque to welcome Maria as the new Executive Director. Epicenter facilities will be open to tour including the recently renovated basement and workshop.

The Epicenter Board of Directors


Job Opening: Community Coordinator

Epicenter is seeking two Community Coordinators! Current Green River residents are preferred, but we accept all applicants. All levels of experience are encouraged to apply.

If you are one or more of the following, we’d like to talk to you:
– An enthusiastic person, eager to put their energy into local residents, ideas, and small businesses, connecting them to the resources needed to thrive.
– A lifelong learner interested in working with other local residents.
– An entrepreneur experienced in project management.
– An independent worker who thrives on a team.

Follow the link below to learn more and apply:




Our Futures


Please join us on March 1, 2018, at the Utah Museum of Art at 5PM for a preview of our new exhibit, Our Futures. An artist talk, “Designing Our Futures,” with co-creators Ryan Baxter, Bryan Brooks, Jarod Hamm, and Maria Sykes will follow at 7PM.

Learn More

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) presents the second exhibition in its ACME Lab, a new space dedicated to community engagement and art experimentation in the Museum’s Emma Eccles Jones Education Center. Our Futures, designed by Epicenter, invites visitors to “time travel” to the year 2039 and experience four potential futures for the residents of Green River. In doing so, visitors, specifically teens and young adults, are asked to consider the role they each play in shaping their own community’s future.

When a visitor steps into the ACME Lab to experience Our Futures, they’ll be tasked with voting for one of four possibilities: for the town to disincorporate, become a tourist town, recruit a recycling industry, or host a MarsNow space colonization facility. All of these futures are based in Green River’s past or another rural community’s reality respectively: real ghost towns like Cisco, UT, and disincorporated rural towns like Seneca, NE; resort towns like Moab and Park City; rural recycling-based towns in Africa; and the Green River Launch Facility (circa 1960-80’s), SpaceX Rocket Development and Test Facility, McGregor, TX, and Spaceport America in rural New Mexico.

After a visitor casts their vote—and wears a pin to show that they participated—they will step into the future to 2039. Each possible future brings both advantages and disadvantages to the community. Moreover, these fictional futures affect individual lives in ways that are sometimes positive, sometimes negative, and often complicated. It’s through the diaries of two fictional teens, Mia and Cera, that these outcomes are more fully understood.

Best friends who’ve kept journals through their high school years, Mia and Cera become our tour guides through these speculative futures. Pages from their diaries illuminate how the Green River tourism industry with its Melon Queen Pageant and Hollywood talent scouts creates a dream-come-true scenario for one friend but not the other. The same holds true for a future in which a cutting-edge recycling industry appeals less to travelers and adventure-seekers, but signals new jobs to local residents as well as out-of-town families who hope to relocate there. Whether the future looks more like a ghost town, a spaceport town, a resort town, or a recycling town, it’s through the lens of Mia and Cera’s friendship that we glimpse the consequences of our individual votes.

While diary excerpts help tell the story of four futures, it’s the artifacts on display that bring this speculation to life. Visitors can try on clothing that Mia and Cera wore, take a selfie at a designated selfie spot, appreciate the beauty of Mia’s handmade jewelry, see what becomes of “old” recycled technology, and learn what a “space valentine” is. There are even stations for smelling and hearing the future. At the end, each visitor will be asked to reflect on and respond to these worlds: What might the future look like in our own town? How can I help create the future I’d most like to see? Outside of the exhibit, interconnected K-12 programming will invite students to join each other in this conversation across the miles between our Salt Lake City-based UMFA and rural counterparts.
Epicenter’s Our Futures is curated by UMFA’s Ashley Farmer in collaboration with Jorge Rojas and Emily Izzo. ACME (Art. Community. Museum. Education.) is an outreach initiative by UMFA dedicated to rethinking the public role of museums.

Our Futures will be exhibited from March 2nd to July 1st 2018.


Announcing: 2018 Frontier Fellows

2.Resonating Nexus_pond viewWendy Wischer – Resonating Nexus

As The Frontier Fellowship enters its eighth year, the program has evolved in response to Epicenter’s growth and the community’s needs, but the mission of the program remains the same: to discern and celebrate the town of Green River and its surroundings. Fellows’ exploration of Green River over the years has provided critical insight and reflection on contemporary Western America. Discover the work at or request a copy of A Call to Place: the first five years of the Frontier Fellowship via email to hello[at]frontierfellowship[dot]org.

Though we’re honored to receive dozens of applicants from around the world, only a select few are accepted to participate annually. Fellows are accepted based on the quality of their recent work and must possess a proven sensitivity to and enthusiasm for working in rural or small communities, a strong history of collaboration, and a demonstrated ability to develop and creatively leverage resources. This round of applicants were of such high quality that it took us triple the amount of time that is typically required to make our selections. Additionally, we added two categories this year: emerging Fellows which pairs two early-career artists together and returning Fellows which invites past collaborators to return to Green River with a specific proposal in mind. Emerging Fellows will receive direct technical assistance from Epicenter such as portfolio and CV assistance, network connections, mentorship, and more. Our traditional Frontier Fellowship will remain a four-week research-based residency.

I am honored to present Epicenter’s next round of Frontier Fellows, an exciting group of folklorists, designers, poets, and much more.

– Maria Sykes, Epicenter Principal and Frontier Fellowship Coordinator


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