WHY GREEN RIVER?
We’d like to think we chose this location, but really this place chose us. Epicenter’s founders were invited to work in Green River as AmeriCorps volunteers. They stayed because they fell in love with the place, the people, and the opportunities. Epicenter's work and ethic reaches far beyond Green River, Utah, but it remains our home
Why do we do this work?
We’re here to celebrate this place, and alongside the community, work incrementally and intentionally to identify and build on our town’s assets. We’re continually building on what we do and redefining how we do it. We work on multiple scales to achieve our goals—from nation-wide knowledge building all the way down to the construction details on a single-family house.
Rural & Proud Since 2009
Since Epicenter’s humble beginnings, we’ve maintained a holistic approach to our work which we believe to be critical to our success. Our process combines art, design, and unconventional thinking to achieve with our community things many thought impossible with limited resources.
Passion: Epicenter has an undying passion for our community of Green River. This passion drives the pursuit of our mission. We seek to partner with those who share our passion, and we work to inspire it in others where possible.
Excellence: Epicenter aims to operate at the highest level of excellence. Everything Epicenter creates is intended to be completed as carefully as possibly so as not to waste resources. We do not settle for mediocre work.
Stewardship: Epicenter believes that local knowledge is valuable and should often guide our work. Epicenter strives to make decisions that show care for and provide sustainable value to our community, and also ensure the viability and sustainability of the organization.
Transparency: Epicenter is committed to operating openly and transparently. Epicenter makes available accurate, comprehensive, and timely information to our community, the media, and stakeholders.
Honesty: Epicenter is committed to open and truthful communication with everyone, and seeks to partner with those who do the same. Epicenter acknowledges the truth, even when it is difficult to do so. Epicenter knows that acknowledging difficult truths is often the first step in pursuit of our mission.
Empathy: Epicenter believes in responding to the challenges and needs of Green River as residents and neighbors. We identify and acknowledge the various points of view within our community, and integrate them into our actions and activities.
Develop Epicenter as a model for other rural communities.
As Epicenter's executive director, Maria leads with a contagious passion for rural places. After graduating from Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Sykes moved to Green River to co-found Epicenter in 2009. Sykes has been working in rural community development around the globe for less than a decade, but the work has been honored many times, including by Utah Governor Gary Herbert. She loves swimming in the Green River, sitting on her front porch, and taking trips to other rural places around the world.
A detail-oriented builder and do-er, Steph holds a Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Utah, known for the Design Build Bluff program working in the Navajo Nation. Though she was born and raised in Utah, Steph has traveled as far as Nepal and Japan to serve communities through design and architecture. Steph now calls Green River home and leads Epicenter’s housing initiatives.
After completing two years of AmeriCorps VISTA in Green River, Grace joins the Epicenter team as a working artist, proponent of strong rural communities, and lover of the Utah wilderness. Grace came to Green River from small town New England, having grown up in Massachusetts and receiving her BFA in Painting from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Connecticut. She looks forward to helping others form genuine connections with the community and landscape of Green River.
Canal Commons Project Manager
Originally from Louisiana, Lindsey spent six years working as an architect in Dallas, Texas, after receiving her BArch at Louisiana Tech (2010) and MArch at Kansas (2012). She approaches community development through a patient and iterative process that combines housing, the arts, and cultural exploration making her a perfect fit for Epicenter's Enterprise Rose Fellowship (2019-20) and project lead on Canal Commons.
Frances joined Epicenter after a year of AmeriCorps service in Green River. Originally from Santa Monica, California, Frances has a background in architecture and poetry, with a BA from Bennington College. She splits her time as the Youth Director at Green River PACT, a direct-service nonprofit, and a Specialist at Epicenter. Her favorite view of Green River is from the bed of a pick-up truck.
Blair graduated with a degree in Graphic Design & Sustainability from Auburn University during the Great Recession. As design jobs were few, Blair pursued an Americorps position in rural Alabama. Their path would be forever altered by the work of the late, great citizen architect, Samuel Mockbee. Since, Blair has worked at a branding agency, a nonprofit, at the Colorado state capitol, and on their own projects under the moniker Office of BS.
Summer Ester Orr is a practicing graphic designer, artist, and community organizer born and raised in a high desert valley in Nevada. She has been an active advocate and observer of the natural world for as long as she can remember. Orr has held different positions in arts, non-profit, and agricultural organizations, and is excited to begin a position for AmeriCorps in Green River. In her spare time she is a bird-watcher, frog-catcher, and rock-collector.
An environmental designer hailing from rural Alabama, Kristin joins us as an Americorps member. She holds a B.S. from Auburn University and is interested in the relationship between the built environment and equity within communities. Outside of Americorps, Kristin enjoys making ceramics and exploring our intricate connection to the landscape. You can likely find her playing in the dirt or biking around town.
Truly "Rural and Proud," Aurora hails from Ferron, Utah, just on the other side of Emery County from Green River. After graduating from Emery High where she was very involved as a volunteer for the Youth City Council for Ferron, Aurora attended Utah State University - Eastern to complete her Generals. In addition to simply enjoying helping people, she loves playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends and reading books.
ROSE ARCHITECTURAL FELLOWSHIP
selected as host organization (2018)
UTAH DESIGN ARTS ’18
works selected to be exhibited (2018)
UTAH MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
featured artist in ACME Lab (2018)
NONPROFIT BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Emery County Business Chamber (2015)
UTAH DESIGN ARTS ’15
awarded Juror’s Prize (2015)
awarded to Maria Sykes by The Community Foundation of Utah (2015)
UTAH GOVERNOR’S LEADERSHIP IN THE ARTS AWARD
Gov. Gary Herbert (2015)
RURAL PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Utah Housing Coalition (2014)
YOUNG GUNS FINALISTS
awarded by Curbed (2014)
awarded to by the Design Futures Council (2013)
awarded to Maria Sykes by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums
Board of Directors
Jason Wheeler, AIA - Board Chair
Salt Lake City, UT
Joshua Rowley - Vice Chair
Green River, UT
Ren Hatt, Esq - Secretary & Treasurer
Green River, UT
Shaleane Gee, PhD
Salt Lake City, UT
March Studio, Los Angeles, CA
David Watkins & John Montgomery
Rocky Mountain CRC
Lindsey Briceno, AIA
Recent Enterprise Rose Fellow