It’s no joke – Greg Estes was born on April Fool’s Day.
From a young age Greg has always been interested in exploring his family tree. From his father’s side are tales of migration across the globe stopping in various countries for hundreds of years at a time. On his mother’s side is a story rich with Miami Indian heritage that has called northern Indiana home for thousands of years. It is the connection with the Miami side that has played a strong influence on his life growing up. From practicing traditions like giving his children a “Miami name,” to spending quality time connecting with nature, Greg (Mahkoonsa/Little Bear) has always felt a strong tie to his Miami ancestors. “There is something very comforting about living in a place where your roots run very deep,” said Greg.
Greg was destined for architecture from the young age of eight. While playing Legos one day, he began to create a ‘bill of materials,’ sketch out some floor plans and elevations, and then started to build a house for his Lego mini-figures. That was the moment his mother walked by and casually said, “You should be an architect.” That’s all it took. Now, 33 years later, he is constantly reminded of that moment as he watches his eight year old daughter conduct very similar exercises of her own.
Architecture isn’t something he uses only at Design Collaborative. He is constantly creating and building in his free time, and considers himself a “Jack of all trades, but master of none.” He tries to do just enough of everything that interests him to be able to fully explore each of those interests. His love of music ranges from writing his own songs to attending as many concerts as possible, just as long as he can be right next to the stage. He also enjoys spending time in nature whenever possible – hiking through the woods or just sitting by the river listening to wildlife. He enjoys any opportunity to share these experiences with his family – wife Lauren, daughter Norah, 8, and son Walden, 6. His interest in woodworking and nature even caused him to design and build a wood strip kayak, which he then named after his mother’s maiden name – Mongosa – which is Miami for White Loon.
Greg’s love of nature has led to a new late-night hobby – astrophotography. Whenever the weather conditions are right and the stars are aligned, he hauls his 62 pound telescope setup to the back yard to watch the night sky, snap some pictures, and enjoy a cold IPA. He enjoys hunting through the sky for whatever may be hiding out there and always looks to take a better photo than before. His interest in space extends into other areas of his life – from reading books by Andy Weir and Dennis Taylor, to watching his favorite movie Interstellar, and regularly watching SpaceX launches online with his kids.
Have you ever built your own board game? Greg has! He enjoys meeting up with friends as often as possible to play board games, specifically Eurogames. His favorites include Pandemic Legacy, where the board is literally destroyed by the end of the game, 7 Wonders, Power Grid, and Settlers of Catan. He designed and built his own 3D version of this game, too (it might be less of a big deal now that 3D printers exist, but he made it several years ago). Greg’s 3D Settlers of Catan game even had a shining moment on the internet when it was captured on forevergeek.com (Nerds are for Dorks), causing it to trend on Facebook.
Greg’s love of games has led him to his latest project – he’s building an online role-playing game where players can log daily activities (physical, mental, social) that are done in real life to develop their character stats. This in turn allows the players to go on adventures, buy equipment, and slay virtual dragons. The game is meant to help develop and encourage good habits in the lives of Greg and his friends when nerdiness out-motivates competition.
One of his favorite opportunities in recent years was being able to design and build a potting shed for his mum. Well, it was originally planned to be a potting shed, but as it grew to 400 square feet, it’s now referred to as “The Garden Cabin.”
When the weather turns too cold to do woodworking, Greg logs hours in Minecraft, adding to his Hobbiton build from The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings movies. It has served as a nice distraction over the past few winters to be able to build things inside where it’s more comfortable. “I have no idea why I do any of this,” said Greg about his many unusual hobbies. “I just get an urge to make something and I jump in.”
Apart from his many interests, Greg is most passionate about helping others, diving into unexplored territory, creating things, and innovating process. From woodworking, home improvement projects, art, electronics, crafts, or anything else, he likes to share projects on his blog to help encourage others to create.
“I always seem to have a desire to try everything,” said Greg. “But at some point, I need to remind myself to stop and focus on a few things at a time. Having figured out my career path so young in life, I find this is a nice time to stop and think about what new things I want to learn through my 40s and 50s.”