Author Archives: Kasia Marciszewska

Kasia Marciszewska

About Kasia Marciszewska

Kasia Marciszewska is a writer and editor with experience working in magazines, newspapers and web. She covers topics relating to business, entertainment, health care, sustainability, philanthropy and more.

Avalon enchants with its decor and impressive cuisine

Avalon Enchants With Its Decor And Impressive Cuisine

Avalon’s dining room has chic, minimalist décor and a neutral color palette.
Photos: Avalon Restaurant-Scottsdale AZ

With its modern twist on an ancient legend, Avalon can be found on an unassuming stretch of McDowell Road. The Scottsdale restaurant has an almost whimsical presence and enchanting appeal that is first noted by the serene and placid pool that leads to the entrance while soothing music drifts through the air.

Inside, the chic, minimalist décor and neutral color palette continue the feeling of serenity. The calm ambiance is adorned with touches of nature, such as white tree branches and dark wood accents.

In contrast to its decor, Avalon’s food is an eclectic combination of seafood and contemporary American cuisine prepared and presented with a passionate eye for aesthetic detail. And in a nod to its namesake, a sweet concoction called the Lady of the Lake can be found on the cocktail menu.

My dinner companions and I began our night with several starters. The crispy calamari and polenta-stuffed jumbo prawns were very well received. But the top prizes went to the lobster bisque and the steamed Prince Edward Isle mussels. A special that day, the bisque was creamy with a surprisingly tasty tang. The mussels were swimming in a delicious lobster bouillabaisse loaded with smoked white fish and shrimp. The bouillabaisse struck the perfect balance of piquant and mild flavors. It was my first experience with mussels and — if they’re all this good — it certainly won’t be my last.

Next up was the soup-and-salad course. The Avalon Caesar and roasted beet salads were delicious, but the clear favorite was the organic baby field greens with candied walnuts and fresh strawberries. I also couldn’t resist the French sweet onion soup. With just the right amount of sweet it definitely lived up to its name.

Entrees came next and we chose carefully to keep a balance of appetizing dishes that hailed from land and sea. The shrimp fettuccine carbonara was a rich combination of flavors topped with crispy pancetta, English peas and lemon crema. The seared Maine diver scallops also received rave reviews from our table.

Although the seafood dishes were palate pleasing, it was the lamb and steak dinners that tantalized our taste buds. The Provimi farms lamb dish was made up of a roasted rack of lamb and seared lamb T-bone, topped with a green peppercorn sauce that we all agreed was scrumptious. The aged prime rib-eye steak satisfied even the most devout meat lover, and coupled with a potato pancetta hash, onions and a bordelaise sauce, it was a meal to end all meals.

I didn’t think I had any room left for dessert, but when I saw an item on the menu called Avalon’s Chocolate Decadence I couldn’t say no. Our server informed us that the treat had won an award for best dessert in the Valley for the past five years. One taste and I knew why.

Alas, our time at Avalon had come to an end and the verdict was in: For delicious and innovative fare, a visit to Avalon won’t disappoint. This casually classy establishment is truly an indulgence for the senses — invigorating your taste buds in a serene setting while awakening you to the sights, sounds and flavors of fine cuisine.

If You Go:
Avalon
7707 E McDowell Road, Scottsdale
(480) 656-0010
www.avalon-scottsdale.com

Cancer research and treatment are coming of age in Arizona

Cancer Research And Treatment Are Coming Of Age In Arizona

The Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson is one of two NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Arizona. Photo: The Arizona Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson

Cancer Conquerors:

There was a time when a diagnosis of cancer almost always meant death. But advances in cancer research and treatment have greatly improved cancer patients’ chances of survival. Throughout the Valley and Arizona, cancer centers touting new technologies and treatments are helping the state become one of the nation’s leaders in the fight against the disease.

“With these various models … it is raising the quality of cancer treatment for everybody in the Valley (and state)” says Dr. Michael Etzl Jr., director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and co-director of the neuro-oncology program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Comprehensive Care Centers
Since 1976, the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson has been a pioneer in the fight against cancer. Designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as one of just two Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Arizona, the facility serves the entire state.

“Because of our Comprehensive Cancer Center status, our emphasis on research and our role as part of an academic medical center, we can offer our patients the opportunity to be part of clinical trials, to be treated with newly developed drugs specifically for their particular disease,” says Dr. David S. Alberts, director of the Arizona Cancer Center.

The only other NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Arizona is the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Scottsdale.

“Mayo’s unique approach to health care is a team approach, with many health care providers working to provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in more than 65 adult medical and surgical specialties,” says Dr. Rafael Fonseca, deputy director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and site director in Arizona.

Clinical Trials and Research
Research and clinical trials are the critical basis for innovations in cancer treatment. Arizona is able to position itself as a leader in cancer treatment because of the research and clinical trials its hospitals and centers host.

“It is a documented fact that the best cancer care can only occur at centers where clinical trials are being conducted,” Fonseca says.

The Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson has an annual research budget of more than $78 million, operates 60 research labs and enrolls more than 1,700 participants in clinical trials each year.

In the Valley, Scottsdale Healthcare also offers cancer patients cutting edge clinical trials by being a clinical research site for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Through a strategic alliance between Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen, eligible patients can take part in phase I or phase II studies at TGen’s Clinical Research Services clinic, located within the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center.

Since 2005, more than 60 phase I (first-in-human) cancer trials have been conducted through TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare. Approximately 250-300 new patients participate in other phase I trials every year through the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center.

In a field vastly different from that of adult cancer, Phoenix Children’s is the only hospital in the state to offer pediatric phase I, phase II and phase III trials.

“In pediatric oncology, without the clinical research component of it you really don’t provide cutting-edge treatment,” Etzl says.

Approximately 60 to 70 percent of cancer patients at Phoenix Children’s are on clinical trials.

Pioneering Programs
Along with its research and clinical trials, Phoenix Children’s Hospital prides itself on having a “strong, family-centered, comprehensive program” for young cancer patients, Etzl says.

One of the hospital’s numerous programs includes Child Life, which works to ease a child’s pain and worry about being in a hospital. Through the program, procedures are explained to children as part of an overall effort to make a young cancer patient’s life as normal as possible.

The cancer center at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Downtown Phoenix hosts programs ranging from nutritional support to quality-of-life care that focus on a blend of medical, holistic and emotional support systems.

Meanwhile, an initiative at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center that is open to all cancer patients — regardless of where they’re receiving treatment — is the cancer care coordinator program. It’s comprised of experienced oncology nurses who act as personal advocates for cancer patients by answering questions, clarifying procedures and more.

Collaboration and Partnerships
Dr. Mark A. Slater, vice president of research for Scottsdale Healthcare and the Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, says that with so much cancer treatment and research taking place in the Valley and state, it’s important to “work together to fight cancer and not duplicate each other (and) instead complement each other.”

The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center continues to expand its alliance with TGen. The center recently announced it will be one of three clinical research sites in the U.S. to participate in a three-year investigation into new ways to treat pancreatic cancer.

Since 2002, the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and Phoenix Children’s have worked together on the Valley’s first pediatric blood-and-marrow transplant program.

“Prior to 2002, if a (Phoenix Children’s) patient needed a transplant, the patient and his or her family had to leave the Phoenix area, often for months at a time, to seek care,” Fonseca of Mayo says.

Today, the two institutions have successfully forged a strong relationship that helps patients young and old. “The program has grown exponentially,” Fonseca says. “This year we will perform approximately 120 transplants.”

The Future
As the next phase of cancer care makes its way to the state, one new option for patients is the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear, which opened in December 2008. Cancer Treatment Centers of America has other locations in Chicago, Philadelphia and Tulsa, Okla.

The center in Phoenix is the first in the country to be 100-percent digital, with a fully electronic health record system designed specifically to support Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s unique model of care.

“The (electronic health record system) is one part of our comprehensive IT platforms designed to maximize patient care. Cancer patients will benefit from greater efficiency created by real-time access to patient data and more,” says David Veillette, president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center.

Another option coming online in a few years will be the M.D. Anderson Banner Cancer Center on the campus of Banner Gateway Medical Center in the East Valley. The recently announced collaboration between the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is Banner’s largest ever, with a scheduled opening of 2011.

“Cancer treatment will be needed more, naturally, as a result of more people moving into the Valley and the state,” says Bill Byron, a spokesperson for Banner Health. “The M. D. Anderson Banner Cancer Center will be a prominent institution that many will choose.”

Along with new technology, research and treatments, each cancer center in the state offers patients perhaps the most potent medicine of all — hope.

“We foresee a future where cancer will be like infectious diseases — most of the time curable,” Fonseca says.

www.azcc.arizona.edu | www.mayoclinic.org/scottsdale | www.cancercenter.com | www.phoenixchildrens.com | www.stjosephs-phx.org | www.shc.org | www.mdanderson.org | www.bannerhealth.com

Go Green, One Step at a Time

Go Green, One Step at a Time

Nobody ever said being “green” was easy, but it doesn’t have to be that hard either. Recently, I read a great blog by Liesa Goins in Newsweek titled “Easy Environmentalism: How to Go Green Without Going Overboard.”

In the entry, Goins gives her two cents on how to live a more sustainable life in a practical way. Sure, we’d all love to have a low carbon footprint but the only way to get there is one careful step at a time. And as for beating ourselves up for not being “green” enough? Goins suggests we’re better off not and instead focus on the positive things we’re already doing and continue to make small changes.

From finding eco-friendly vacation destinations to buying from companies that are making an effort toward sustainability, the author stresses that being green doesn’t have to be an enormous lifestyle change.

As for me, I agree with Goins that we shouldn’t overwhelm ourselves with becoming “green”. Helping our environment is an ongoing process that we can implement in small steps. Recycling, reusing, etc., all those little things count.

Check out the rest of her tips here

Renewable Energy

Arizona Awarded $9.5 Million For Energy Projects

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that over $354 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is being awarded to 22 states to go toward energy efficiency and conservation activities.

This money will be used to support state-level energy efficiency priorities as well as fund local conservation projects in smaller cities and counties.

Arizona received approximately $9.5 million “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage development, promotion and application of advances building codes and green buildings statewide.”

Eighty percent of the funds will be distributed to local cities and counties to implement their own energy efficiency programs.

In order to receive funding, it is then up to the local governments to focus on projects demonstrating a high return on investment, leveraged funds, jobs created, interactions with community colleges and technical and trade schools and a shared community approach.

The goal of the Recovery Act-funded projects will be to “..reduce energy usage and costs, increase the use of renewable energy applications within communities, and create jobs across the state.”

So what does this mean for Arizona? Only time will tell but I’m looking forward to seeing the various programs and incentives. One thing’s for sure, this is great news for our state, our nation and our sustainable future.

Read more about the announcement here.

Valley Metro Light Rail

Awarding Sustainable Excellence

On Saturday, September 12th Valley Forward held its 29th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Gala. With Fox 10 News’ Troy Hayden as master of ceremonies for the event, there was never a dull moment.

Title sponsor SRP and Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward, put together another spectacular celebration of sustainability. More than 150 nominations came in for this year’s awards — more than any previous year — showing that despite difficult economic times, the public’s commitment to sustainability has not wavered.

METRO Light Rail was the 2009 President’s Award (Best of Show) recipient, further highlighting the achievements of the newest addition to the Valley’s transportation system. METRO Light Rail was also honored with a first-place Crescordia Award in the Livable Communities, Multi-modal Transportation & Connectivity category.

Crescordia is a Greek term that means “to grow in harmony,” and that’s the overall message that came across during this year’s awards. Each acceptance speech reiterated the importance of responsible economic growth, and keeping the environment in mind for a brighter future for our state.

Check out the full list of winners here.

It was a great experience to see all of the amazing projects, and the progress Arizona has made toward a more sustainable future. An added bonus was being able to mingle with a crowd of esteemed professionals, as well as community and business leaders.

Along with the award winners, Brossart announced AZ Big Media / Arizona Business Magazine’s blog partnership with Valley Forward. She will be a guest blogger on the AZ Green Scene once a month, so check back soon as we’ll have some great posts coming our way.

www.valleyforward.org

Photo Credit: www.valleymetro.org

Sustainable Walmart

Sustainable Walmart

When you think of the global retail giant Walmart the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t sustainability. But think again.

The company plans to introduce this initiative in three phases:

First, Walmart will provide each of its 100,000 global suppliers with a survey of 15 questions to evaluate the company’s sustainability. The questions will be divided into four areas:

  • energy and climate
  • natural resources
  • material efficiency
  • people and community

U.S. suppliers are being asked to complete the survey by October 1st. Outside of the country, timelines will be set up for suppliers to complete the survey.

The consumer king’s second step is helping create a consortium of universities, administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. The sustainability consortium will be comprised of universities that will collaborate with governmental agencies, businesses, and non-government organizations (NGOs) to create a sustainable product index for consumer products. Walmart supplied the initial funding for the Sustainability Index Consortium, and has appealed to retailers and suppliers to contribute.

The final step is providing customers with the information from the index in an easy to understand rating system. How this information is delivered — whether a color coding system or a numeric score — will be determined in coming months and years by the sustainability consortium. Hopefully, the rating system will help consumers make sustainable choices.

After visiting Walmart’s website I was impressed how much emphasis they place on sustainability. On the site I found information about climate, energy, zero waste and more. I wasn’t aware that the store was so dedicated to the environment and was definitely pleased to find out that the chain is more than just rock bottom prices.

Photo Credit: www.walmart.com
www.asu.edu
www.uark.edu

Arizona State University Named Green School by Sierra Magazine

Arizona State University Is Lucky #13

Just a few weeks after being named one of the “greenest” universities by the Princeton Review, Arizona State University has racked up another green recognition.

Sierra Magazine, a publication of the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., has released their list of the nation’s top 20 “coolest” schools and ASU has been named as lucky number 13.

 

Arizona State UniversityThe schools were recognized for their sustainable efforts based on questionnaires addressing a variety of categories including: academics, administration, efficiency, energy, food, purchasing, transportation, and waste management. Schools could earn up to ten points in each category with an additional five bonus points if they had extra green initiatives.

Again, ASU was in some pretty elite company with Yale, Harvard, New York University and others. The University of Colorado at Boulder may have taken the top spot but for ASU this is another notch on its green belt of accomplishments. Being sustainable is no small feat and this type of national recognition gives Arizonans not only a reason to be proud, but also motivation to keep the mission going.

For the full list of school’s check out the Sierra Club’s website.

schoolofsustainability.asu.edu

Star Island, Green Island Resort

Star Island — A Green Island Resort Dream

While channel surfing on a recent Saturday, I stumbled across a show counting down the best exclusive island resorts. I decided to indulge in a little daydreaming and watched the special. Much to my surprise, near the top of the list was a resort unlike any other.

S.T.A.R. Island is a 35-acre island located near the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. The acronym stands for Sustainable Terrain and Resources, which, according to its Web site means that S.T.A.R. Island is “slated to be the world’s first sustainable, carbon neutral exotic island resort.”

The description alone is enticing. “An exclusive private island resort community and shining example of sustainable development, seamlessly combining the latest earth-friendly construction and design with the ulimate in luxury and comfort. A pure paradise where every detail has been artfully designed to balance with our environment at every level.”

How does S.T.A.R. Island plan on achieving such an amazing feat? Well, with a few things. A mixture of solar, wind, hydro and biofuels will help the resort provide typical amenities you would find at any luxury resort, but without any reliance on fossil fuels. The resort’s carbon footprint will be virtually nonexistent, washed away with the clear blue waters of the ocean.

Photovoltaic cells will convert natural light into electricity. The cells, which will be placed on the roof of every building, are designed to produce enough electricity to power all the resort facilities. The buildings will be constructed from Insulated Concrete Forms, eco-friendly, non-toxic recyclable polystyrene that provides not only a strong structure, but also a thermal barrier. Because of this unique material, the size of the resort’s heating/cooling units will be smaller than those normally found on such buildings. In addition, each building will also have a mini-wind turbine with excess energy being stored for later use.

But the green technology doesn’t end there. The resort will house geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, rainwater harvesting, and more. The developers of S.T.A.R. Island aren’t the first to embark on this idea, but they do appear to be among the first to actually achieve it. I must say I’m quite impressed with the resort and am curious to see how it turns out.

Led by president and lead designer of Star Island Development David H. Sklar, the developers have put together a top-notch team of designers and consultants to make the resort a reality. Now, if only I can figure out a way to come up with the green to experience this green resort … stay tuned.

www.starislandbahamas.com

Chevy Volt electric car, GM

GM Electrifies Drivers With The Chevrolet Volt

General Motors announced today that its newest vehicle, the rechargeable electric Chevrolet Volt, should get 230 miles per gallon in city driving. Highway mileage estimates have not yet been released.

Although the claims must first be verified by the Environmental Protection Agency, if they are true, they would beat out the current model of green driving, the Toyota Prius.

GM is marketing the Volt as an extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV). Unlike a traditional electric car, where a small electric motor powers the car when it’s moving slowly and the gasoline motor kicks in when the car accelerates, the Volt is a bit different. The Volt’s power comes from a high-voltage battery pack made from lithium-ion technology that is capable of storing enough energy to drive the car up to 40 miles in normal conditions. What to do when your battery is low? Simply plug it in just like you would any other appliance. A full charge takes three or six hours through a 110 or 220-volt wall outlet.

In addition, the Volt will still have a small internal combustion engine to produce electricity when the stored power is low, providing the driver with a total range of 300 miles. Think of this as a generator that kicks in, in the event you drive more than 40 miles. Some areas of the car are still being tested and refined, but the Volt is scheduled for release in late 2010.

The first-generation Volt is expected to cost almost $40,000, but hopefully the price will drop with future models. Alas, as I’ve said before, sometimes being green costs more from the get-go — but the long-term effects are most definitely worth it!

Consumers are much more conscious about the environment and many want to reflect that through the vehicles they drive. If the Volt can live up to its claims, it will be a great step forward and hopefully other automakers will follow suit.

www.chevrolet.com

Sustainable America

How Does America Feel About Sustainability?

In a previous blog post I wrote about the amount of money being set aside for sustainability in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act — $467 million to be exact.

With so much money being spent, are you wondering what the American people really think about sustainability-related matters? Me too. As luck would have it, a research team from the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,164 Americans to get some insight. Titled “Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ climate change beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences and actions” the survey included various matters relating to “issue priorities for the new administration and Congress, support and opposition regarding climate change and energy policies, levels of political and consumer activism, and beliefs about the reality and risks of global warming.” The survey was conducted in September and October of 2008.

Obviously, the biggest issue on the minds of most Americans right now is the economy. Hence, some of the survey results were to be expected (76 percent of Americans rated the economy as a “very high” priority). Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that global warming was a “high” or “very high” national priority for a majority of Americans. Also, 72 percent said the issue of global warming is important to them personally.

When asked who should act to address global warming, 76 percent of respondents said corporations and businesses should do more, or much more. Another 67 percent said Congress should do more to address global warming. Yet, 72 percent believe that citizens themselves are responsible.

Who’s right?

I don’t think there’s a right answer to this one; collaboration is the only path to a truly more sustainable way of life. Still, these findings are definitely a positive sign in my opinion.

Some other notable positives the study found:

• 92 percent of Americans surveyed supported more funding for research on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
• 85 percent supported tax rebates for people buying energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.
• 79 percent supported a 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard for cars, trucks and SUVs.

Here’s the kicker: 79 percent of respondents supported this 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard EVEN if this meant a new car could cost up to $1,000 more. Now that’s dedication!

Unfortunately, though going green can sometimes be a bit more expensive upfront, hopefully with time these costs will be lowered and these kind of vehicles (and other green initiatives) will become the norm.

Overall, what I gathered from this study is that Americans do indeed care about the environment. Although our country is in a precarious time, sustainability hasn’t been entirely forgotten.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University Makes The Green Honor Roll

“Go Green” indeed! Arizona State University has been named one of the nation’s “greenest” universities by the Princeton Review. For the second year in a row, ASU has made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll rating of environmentally-friendly institutions. And we’re among some pretty elite neighbors: Harvard, Berkeley and Yale to name a few.

The Princeton Review began its Green Ratings last year with the help of ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental organization that participates in the project. The schools are measured on a scale of 60 to 99 and the schools that made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll (go ASU!) received the highest possible score of a 99.

“At Arizona State University, sustainability is a fundamental precept underlying its teaching, learning, research and business missions. ASU President Michael Crow is co-chair of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single U.S. university campus.
Established in 2007, ASU’s School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges. The school has over 60 faculty representing over 40 disciplines and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs along with a professional certificate. ASU subsidizes bus and light rail passes for all students and employees and offers car-sharing and a carpool program with special parking privileges. A student-run bicycle co-op offers low- or no-cost bike repairs and free bike rentals.”— The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review names these areas as the criteria for the ratings:

  • Whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable.
  • How well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges.
  • The school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.  The institutional survey for the rating included ten questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings, and transportation to academic offerings (availability of environmental studies degrees and courses) and action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions.

And there’s more good news. The publisher of the Princeton Review said that this year there was a 30 percent increase in the number of colleges participating in the Green Rating survey. The Princeton Review has also dedicated a special resource area on its Web site for students that are serious about the environment and are interested in learning more about attending a green college.

As an alumni of ASU I couldn’t be prouder of this achievement. The School of Sustainability is already making a huge step forward and this accomplishment only adds to the school’s ongoing commitment to greener living. This also brings the issue of the environment to the forefront and grabs the attention of a younger audience that will hopefully be motivated to do something about it. Dedication to sustainability is no easy task, but such sizable schools as ASU can certainly make a positive impact on the movement.

Criteria for The Princeton Review Green Rating of Colleges


The Princeton Review tallied the Green Rating scores based on institutional data it obtained from the colleges during the 2008-2009 academic year in response to ten survey questions that asked:

1) The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food.

2) Whether the school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students.

3) Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus.

4) Whether new buildings are required to be LEED (environmental certification of equipment/appliances) Silver certified or comparable.

5) The school’s overall waste diversion rate.

6) Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration.

7) Whether the school has an “environmental literacy” requirement.

8) Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets.

9) What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heading/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower).

10) Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.

*Source: The Princeton Review

asunews.asu.edu
www.princetonreview.com/green-honor-roll
www.princetonreview.com/green/
www.ecoamerica.net

Recycled Water in Space

Recycled Water — On A Journey From Space And Back To Earth

There’s What in My Water?

“Green” technology is constantly evolving and, consequently, so is my knowledge of it. Ever since I embarked on the journey of learning more about sustainability, nothing ceases to amaze me. Maybe some of the things I write about are old news to those more educated on the topic, but I’m sure there are many individuals such as myself who are taking this one day at a time.

In that vein, I stumbled upon a technology that NASA uses to solve the problem of not having a sufficient water supply for its astronauts in space. Hauling water to space is difficult and expensive, so instead NASA utilizes a special device that recycles astronauts’ sweat and urine (yes, urine) into drinking water.

The wastewater enters a processing machine where it goes through six steps of cleansing, including adding iodine to kill microbes. The water is boiled off, vapor collected and brine from urine removed. Add a dash of water from air condensation, filter, and voilà, recycled drinking water is born!

As space exploration evolved it became obvious the technology would be vital to the long-term success of NASA missions.

There's What in my Water?The recycling system was brought up to the International Space Station last November by the space shuttle Endeavour. However, only recently were the astronauts actually able to test the fruits of their “labor.” The project, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), also doubled the living capacity of the space station from three people to six.

Another plus? A portion of ECLSS has been adapted to Earth and is already helping rural villages in northern Iraq, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan generate clean drinking water.

One company at the forefront of this water treatment technology is Water Security Corporation. The company has taken the technology originally developed for NASA and commercialized it to make it accessible to those who need it most.

An interesting tidbit the company includes on its Web site is how similar the situations are between NASA and rural villages in developing nations in terms of having a sufficient water supply. Like the astronauts on the space station, residents in these villages must recycle everything they have. With the help of this technology, the villagers can treat what they DO have in order to keep the water supply constant without having to rely on the whims of others.

People in the developed world take for granted the basic things we are lucky enough to have on a day-to-day basis. This reminded me to truly make an attempt to not be wasteful and conserve our limited resources.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the astronauts say the water tastes just fine. :-)

www.watseco.com
science.nasa.gov

Play to Stop Campaign

Sustainable Europe — A Greener World, One Country At A Time

Fresh from my trip to Europe (specifically my native Poland), I decided to look into what our neighbors across the Atlantic are doing for the sustainability movement.

A survey requested by the European Parliament and the European Commission, coordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication of the European Commission, summarized the general attitude on the Continent toward climate change as “serious but the process is not unstoppable.”

The poll claims that 75 percent of Europeans think “alternative fuels should be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Green EuropeThe survey also suggests that citizens of certain countries — particularly Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania — are not well informed about climate change.

However, according to the poll, citizens of Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ireland are “both well informed about climate change, and personally take action to fight climate change.”

Although I’m not in a position to analyze the conclusions of this survey, I do know that it’s never a bad thing to promote and publicize the issue of climate change awareness. Not only does this (hopefully) get people’s attention, but it also demonstrates society’s commitment to an issue that is universal and affects us all.

The European Commission is promoting climate change awareness to young Europeans by partnering with MTV Europe on a campaign called “Play to Stop— Europe for Climate.” What better way to get through to young people than through concerts, TV programs and the Web?

The eye-catching campaign also has a presence on popular social media sites Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

The campaign will be making its way to my homeland, as well as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Britain and Romania.

So, alas, unlike the U.S., I think it’s safe to say that Europe is making a concerted effort to educate people about climate change and sustainability. Making the world a better, greener place won’t happen overnight, but it’s comforting to know that although we may not all agree on everything, when it comes to this we’re all in this together.

Read the rest of the survey
Play to Stop campaign

Photo: Play to Stop

Green Advisers on a Mission

Green Advisers On A Mission

Name an industry and you’ll find a consultant — investment, finance, marketing, and so forth.

You can add eco-consulting to that list.

After reading an interesting article from the New York Times about eco-consulting, I was curious to see exactly what this new type of profession would encompass.

Is it a passing phase or a legitimate way to better educate citizens about how to live a greener life? To find out more, I contacted Valley eco-consultant Linda Benson. She trained to become an eco-consultant with Green Irene, a company founded by a husband-and-wife team that now trains consultants throughout the country.

After contacting Green Irene for additional information, I received an e-mail from Jessica Clark, marketing manager at Green Irene, who supplied me with the following statement:
“Green Irene is on a mission to ‘Green Our World, One Home And Office At a Time.’ Green Irene trains independent, authorized distributors of Green Irene consulting services and recommended green home and office products. Through these services, eco-consultants assist neighbors, family, employees and coworkers implement proven green solutions in their homes and small businesses, and starts them on the path to a healthier, safer and more sustainable lifestyle.
As of July 2009, Green Irene has more than 425 eco-consultants in 45 states offering Green Home Makeovers, Green Office Makeovers, GO GREEN Workshops and many of the best green home and office products available.”

Guess this isn’t a phase after all.

Benson has been in the interior design industry for three years and her specialty is green, sustainable and universal design, so becoming an eco-consultant was a “good fit.”

She goes on to explain various initiatives offered by Green Irene, including but not limited to, green makeovers as well as “actual blueprints for converting your living, home products and just the way you carry out life on a daily basis in a green and sustainable manner.”

“I enjoy the challenge of re-using and re-engineering furniture and soft goods (bedding, window treatments) from items my clients already have,” Benson adds “I also love educating them on how to save money by making small changes to their lifestyle, such as changing light bulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) in a main living space, and using proper window treatments to hold down the energy loss in a room, just to name a few things.”

green consultingThis sounds like a great idea for people who are trying to make a positive change to better the environment and aren’t really sure how to begin. As Benson points, out the changes don’t have to be costly, and customers can start small and work their way up to more significant changes. The consultations can be done for private residents as well as commercial companies.

Benson has a positive outlook on the future of eco-consulting, not only locally, but also globally.

“I see eco-consulting encouraging people to save on resources, giving motivation to explore new design modes and methods, pushing people to think outside of the box, helping people who spend hard-earned money to use it more efficiently and to encourage saving,” she says. “I see eco-consulting bringing people to the outdoor style of living again by cooking more during the pleasant sunny days. I even see eco-consulting prompting healthy eating and encouraging more community activities again!”

www.greenirene.com

giesha a go go sushi

Geisha A Go Go Serves Up A Japanese View Of The West

When life-sized posters of iconic rock stars line the bar — in this case, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Sid Vicious — you know you’re in for a wild ride.

A colorful hallway filled with neon-lit, arcade-style games marks the entryway. The dark wood walls and stone-like floors, along with a large boulder directly in the middle of the floor, make up the eclectic mood of the place. It’s clear as soon as you walk in that Geisha A Go Go is not your typical Japanese restaurant. Instead, it is a Westernized twist on the Japanese lifestyle.

On the cozy, intimate patio space, we had a front row seat to the action on Old Town Scottsdale’s streets. But people-watching aside, we dove right into the menu to begin our evening. With two pages of appetizers it was difficult to choose, so we selected a variety of items including edamame, Japanese pork dumplings, and shrimp and vegetable tempura. Pretty soon we were on a roll — literally — sampling what Geisha A Go Go had to offer. We began with some traditional choices, and the California, yellowtail, rainbow, soft shell crab and tuna rolls disappeared quickly. After scanning the menu to decide which rolls to order next, I spied the Gaijin roll, described as “an Asian twist on the chimichanga” and I realized that we were in for a Japanese dining experience like no other.

Much like the whimsical décor of the restaurant itself, the sushi rolls were quite an adventure for the palate. And there’s more where the Gaijin roll came from; other unique rolls had names such as Red Samurai, Harajuku Lover and even the Pokemon topped with Fritos — yesFritos! At Geisha A Go Go, no flavor combination is off-limits and we plunged into these exotic concoctions. One of the favorites of the table was the Dragonball made with shrimp tempura, crab mix, salmon, avocado, spicy mayo and unagi sauce, topped with masaga and scallions. This bright orange delectable was a feast for the eyes and mouth.

The namesake roll of the restaurant was also a hit — a balance of both sweet and spicy flavors with lobster tempura, crab mix, avocado, and even cream cheese, all wrapped up with soy paper.

After what seemed like an endless array of rolls, sweet tempura ice cream, a cinnamon banana crisp and smoothsake rounded out our dizzying journey of flavors.

Geisha A Go Go is definitely not your average sushi restaurant nor is it trying to be. In addition to some of the most interesting sushi combinations you can think of, Geisha A Go Go offers private karaoke rooms available for rental. The restaurant is the perfect place to start your night off with some appetizers and drinks or for a casual lunch. Either way, the food, the atmosphere and the service form a winning combination.

Developing an organics-to-energy biogas facility.

Don’t Let It Go To Waste, A Biogas Future

Ever wonder if you can actually do something useful with all the garbage we produce? Well it turns out we can! The city council in San Jose, Calif., recently announced that the city was in talks to develop an organics-to-energy biogas facility.

The facility would be the first of its kind in the United States, and could take in up to 150,000 tons of food and yard waste per year to process and produce energy— all this from waste that would otherwise be condemned to a landfill.

San Jose has made a huge step toward a goal of 100 percent energy independence and can act as an example for the rest of the country.The technology used to create the energy is a process known as dry anaerobic fermentation, which generates renewable bio-gas and high-quality compost, and has already been made popular in Europe. A company called BEKON Energy Technologies has successfully used this process and currently operates facilities in Germany and Italy.

We all know that San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area have long been on the environmental bandwagon, but we should certainly be quick to follow suit. According to San Jose’s Office of Economic Development its proposed biogas facility would employ 30 to 40 people during construction and development. Once fully operational the facility could create 50 to 60 jobs. News flash — it’s not only good for the environment but the economy as well :)

It’s exciting to hear about all this great new technology being developed and, hopefully, one day it will be the norm. Alas, one can at least dream that this kind of future awaits us.

waste=energy

Solar Power in Arizona

State Incentives – Solar & Renewables

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency was established in 1995 and provides detailed analysis of federal and state incentives for solar and renewable energy throughout the country.

The website notes that the project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), mainly through the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis (PBA). The database is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

This site is a great tool for those beginning the journey of making their homes/businesses more sustainable. From green building incentives to the utility rebate programs this information is definitely worth checking out when researching various green options.

For more information on the database and how Arizona fares in comparison to other states check out their Web site at: www.dsireusa.org


www.ncsc.ncsu.edu
www.irecusa.org
www.eere.energy.gov
www.nrel.gov

Job Increase

Green Jobs, Good Future

We are all very aware of the plight our economy is facing, but there is one bright spot in the darkness of the recession — green jobs.

According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of green jobs in the United States grew 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007. Traditional jobs, on the other hand grew by only 3.7 percent in this time frame. This trend was also reflected on a state level.

This is great news, not just for the world of “green” but also for the economic future of our country. It shows that even, or rather especially, in troubled times we are recognizing the importance of sustainability.

The study also stated that “America’s clean energy economy has grown despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade. By 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for about 770,000 jobs.”

And there’s more good news. While many who have been lucky enough to avoid layoffs still live in fear of possibly being let go, 73 percent of respondents in North America to the first ever Carbon Salary Survey reported that they feel safe in their jobs, thanks to ever-increasing attention being placed on the sustainability sector.

I find this information comforting and refreshing. Comforting because it’s nice to know that even in this bleak environment there are still job possibilities out there, and refreshing because well, quite simply it’s refreshing to hear at least some positive news.

Here’s to a greater, greener future.

Source:
Pew Charitable Trusts
Carbon Salary Survey

solar_prop

$467 Million For Geothermal And Solar Energy Projects

Sustainability is an ongoing movement that requires commitment from all — from politicians to regular citizens and everyone in between. In my ongoing quest of educating myself about news and events going on in the world of “green” I came across this release from the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the 2008 presidential campaign President Obama spoke of an amibitious energy plan and the first steps have been made to make the plan a reality.

President Obama announced that “…over $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.”

The fact that this much money has been set aside in the name of creating a sustainable future for the United States is a huge step forward. President Obama went on to say that “We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy.”

Recognizing that the path we’ve been on must be altered is just the beginning. By investing money to discover alternative energy sources, technology, etc., we have made the first step on this long journey.

The funds are going toward several types of green technology: $350 million is being set aside for geothermal energy, a source of renewable energy that uses heat from the Earth for electricity generation and heating applications.

An additional $117.6 million will go toward solar energy technologies. The goal of the various partnerships and developments is to continue to lead our country to a greener future.

It’s encouraging to know that although we are all facing difficult economic times right now, the government recognizes that making this investment is for the greater good of not only the U.S. but the world.

Source:
U.S. Department of Energy

Tailwinds Pet Resort

Tailwinds Full-Service Pet Resort Provides Services Specifically For Dogs And Cats

Mischelle Hutchison and Holly Utzinger, Owners
Tailwinds Pet Resort
Est: 2009

“Even when you think you know it all, you won’t. Keep searching for ways to get smarter.”

The newest resort in town is for a very energetic kind of clientele. Tailwinds Pet Resort is catering only to the needs of our four-legged friends and doing so in high style. This full-service pet resort provides services specifically for dogs and cats, boasts 5,000 square feet on a half-acre lot and offers a wide array of pet-friendly perks.

Opening the resort has been the culmination of a lifelong dream for its two owners, Holly Utzinger and Mischelle Hutchison.

“Always wanting to have my own business and getting there is pretty thrilling,” Utzinger says.

Tailwinds’ state-of-the-art facility is bringing a new face to the world of pet care and it doesn’t skimp on a thing. It provides overnight boarding, daycare, a full-service grooming salon and a mobile grooming service. Unlike traditional pet centers, the pricing model is very straightforward and offers myriad options for the pets at no extra cost. Security cameras, separate air conditioning units for each building, and flat screen TVs are just some of the amenities that will be standard to pet guests.

The resort is comprised of three specially designed buildings that feature a round shape to decrease noise and give the animals a panoramic view of their surroundings. The two larger buildings include 4-by-6 standard rooms and 8-by-6 grand rooms for larger animals or multipet families. An additional, slightly smaller building consists of 2-by-4 petite rooms for the smaller pet guests. Ample outdoor space is the setting for integrated play for dogs of similar sizes, ages and energy levels that have been approved for this fun activity.

As for cats, they will have all the comforts of a real-life apartment, because that’s exactly where they will be. The specially-outfitted apartment includes a working kitchen, appliances and all the details that make cats feel right at home.

The owners’ currently are working to acquire the Pet Care Services Association (formerly ABKA) gold accreditation for Tailwinds. In order to achieve this, the resort must adhere to strict standards set by the Pet Care Services Association. Franchising the concept and facility design is a long-term ambition they also hope to achieve.

To fulfill their shared dream of an initial pet resort like Tailwinds, Utzinger and Hutchison combined their respective career specialties. In 25 years in the IT industry, Utzinger was able to hone her business chops in preparation for launching her own venture. Hutchison, on the other hand, has spent the last quarter century in the pet industry, and along the way has opened a kennel, several shops and even a mobile grooming business. After meeting through mutual friends, the idea for a pet resort was born.

The Tailwinds journey hasn’t been an easy one. City-imposed rules and regulations for construction took three years to work out and had many doubting whether the resort would ever open.

“I had other developers call me crazy (because) I was still proceeding,” Utzinger says.
There also were issues with Utzinger’s Small Business Administration loan that dragged on for months and left her feeling uneasy. The issues were finally resolved when Utzinger opted to switch banks and was able to close the loan in only two months. After doing some research, Utzinger discovered that the first bank had been in financial trouble.

“My responses to how these (challenges) were overcome were, ‘This is my new career, my dream, I am not giving up,’” Utzinger says.

In the end, Tailwinds officially opened its doors in February, exactly six years after the property was bought. The long process has made the opening even more special for the owners and at the heart of it all, is their shared loved of animals. Utzinger says her favorite aspect of Tailwinds is “playing with all the pets and watching the expressions of the clients upon their first visit. The most common response is ‘Wow!’”

During the course of planning and finally opening the business, Utzinger can’t stress enough the importance of having had the support of those around her.

“Make sure you have family and friends that can support you when things look hopeless and you’re ready to give up. If you have the vision, you should stick with it,” Utzinger says.
She also credits the SBA with helping Tailwinds get off the ground and leaving no stone left unturned.

“I can’t say enough about the positive impact the SBA had on the whole process. They really make you think and uncover things you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of,” she says.

The best part of fulfilling their dreams? “Offering pet owners a ‘real’ pet resort in the downtown area. So many people have come in and said ‘It’s about time!’”

BRIO Italian Restaurant Interior Scottsdale, Arizona

BRIO’s Italian Cuisine Livens Up The Palate

For a taste of l’Italia, immerse yourself in the soothing ambience, hearty portions and tantalizing pasta sauces at BRIO, Scottsdale’s latest Italian enterprise. With locations throughout the United States, BRIO’s newest home in the Valley can be found in the shopping, dining and entertainment destination called the Scottsdale Quarter.

There’s nothing like a good Italian meal, and along with the rich menu, the Old World Tuscan decor and exhibition kitchen, BRIO offers a warm, casual atmosphere to enjoy your meal. It also lived up to its name by offering vigorous and vivacious taste combinations.

The first stop on our Italian experience was the bruschetta quattro, a tantalizing selection of homemade bruschetta with ingredients ranging from roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella to a divine shrimp choice topped with lobster sherry sauce, Fontina cheese and charred tomato cilantro relish. Next, the spicy shrimp and eggplant drowning in a black pepper cream sauce had just the right amount of kick to wake up the taste buds.

We then sampled several salad selections, including the chopped salad and the Caesar salad. The table’s favorite turned out to be the simplest one, skipping fancy elements in favor of fresh field greens with Gorgonzola, pine nuts, tomato and a dash of balsamic dressing.

Then it was time for the main course, and BRIO did not disappoint. We selected several menu items in order to try to get as much variety as possible: penne Mediterranean, Gorgonzola-crusted bistecca, chicken scallopini and the lasagna Bolognese al forno. We expected large portions, but were we in for a surprise. The lasagna was served on such a large plate that both hands were needed to hold it up. The enormous dish of oven-baked pasta with layers of Bolognese meat sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses was enough to feed a family of four. The steak, or bistecca, was tender and moist, and the penne truly had me thinking I was in Sicily enjoying the fresh pasta at a ristorante along the sea.

Of course, we couldn’t leave BRIO without satisfying our sweet tooth with some dessert. We opted for the dolcino sampler, an eclectic mix of sweet delights served in espresso cups known as dolcinos. The sampler included three types of creme brulee and they were downright delicious. Tiramisu, chocolate cake, key lime pie and strawberry panna cotta were among the other delectables, and the delicate portions let you savor the flavors without overindulging.

From the laid-back ambience to the generous portions and polite service, BRIO is sure to win over yet another city. Perfetto!

    If You Go:
    BRIO
    Scottsdale Quarter: 15301 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
    480-607-1100
    www.brioitalian.com
Loren Siekman

Travel Company Sells Self-Guided Cycling And Hiking Tours Throughout Europe

Loren Siekman
Discover France Adventures
Title: Founder and general manager
Est.: 1994 | www.discoverfrance.com

If trekking through the countryside of France is your idea of a dream vacation, then Discover France Adventures is your ticket to a satisfying holiday.

Discover France Adventures, based in Scottsdale, is an adventure travel company that sells self-guided cycling and hiking tours throughout France and Europe. Discover France caters to clients who are seeking a more challenging experience. Not only do self-guided tours allow for more hands-on sightseeing, the price is often half the cost of guided tours.

The company got its start when founder Loren Siekman moved to Paris. Siekman received his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Arizona State University and worked for four years at an engineering/construction company before quitting and moving to the City of Lights. There he met his future wife, Florence.

“Bottom line — boy quits job and travels around the world, lands in Paris. Gets a job, works, and meets girl. Boy and girl decide life is better together and move back to the USA and start a business based on mutual interests,” Siekman says.

The couple purchased a travel agency in Tempe, and in 1994 switched gears to focus only on the adventure travel market. Launching a business in a market that was largely unknown in the United States was a risk, but one that has ultimately paid off for the entrepreneur.

“I am an adventurer and traveler, as well as a competitive cyclist, so my business is all about my passions,” Siekman says.

The company has six employees and two offices in the U.S. and France. Surviving tough times despite factors that are out of his control (terrorism, airline failures, economic downturn, etc.) has strengthened the company.

“After 15 years, we have seen so many businesses in the travel industry come and go … our longevity is starting to speak much louder about our operation,” Siekman says.

Wise business decisions and smart planning have also kept them ahead. The Siekmans sought the help of a family member to co-sign on a Small Business Administration loan to get the business started, but paid the loan off as soon as they could. They then began reinvesting in the company to avoid borrowing more in the future.

“We’ve always tried to have a diversified market base, so we have clients from different regions, different countries and different demographics. We also save our nickels and so far, have been able to draw cash in slow times,” Siekman says.

When asked about the future of Discover France Adventures, Siekman has one word: “grow.” His plans include creating a multilingual Web site that will better reach the European market, expand business in the thriving Australia and New Zealand markets and target the “baby boom demographic with more challenging trips, more multisport trips, and more adventures that are unique experiences,” Siekman says. “There is a great future for active and adventure travel. They want to feel a part of wherever they’re going instead of just passing by.”

sushi platter

Sushi Roku Blends Trendy With Traditional For A New Dining Experience

At the heart of the new W Scottsdale, Sushi Roku is taking the dining world by storm. With various locations in the Los Angeles area, as well as one in Las Vegas, this contemporary twist on Japanese cuisine has arrived to make its mark on Arizona territory.

The architecture and decor are a sleek combination of modern design and traditional Japanese accents. The bar area is comprised of concrete and a large, natural tree-root that sits at its base. Dark wood floors, an elliptical sushi bar flanking the dining area, and a dim, candle-lit atmosphere lure you in. No, this is no ordinary sushi place, but rather a total dining experience.

Sushi Roku dishUpon entering the restaurant, staff members enthusiastically greet diners, yelling out “Irasshai!” This warm Japanese welcome was the beginning of the flavorful journey that we were about to embark on. We began the evening with some traditional starters, including edamame, as well as a unique offshoot of the well-known favorite, edamame hummus, served with vegetable wonton chips. The edamame were warm, crisp and salty — just the way I like them. The hummus was also a hit, complemented by the flavor-packed chips. The standout from the appetizers was definitely the Kobe beef skewers. The tender, moist beef was offset by a punch of spice that woke up the taste buds.

Sushi RokuDining in a restaurant with sushi as part of its namesake made our dinner selection a no-brainer. We began with a natural choice for sushi lovers: the oldie but goody, California roll. After sampling a wide array, including caterpillar, softshell crab and salmon sashimi, we were still hungry for more. We decided on the katana roll, and the signature dish was well received; a combination of tuna, yellowtail, spicy tuna and shrimp tempura, it had just the right amount of zest to please. But the pièce de résistance of the sushi selections was the baked lobster roll. Covered in a creamy miso sauce, the roll had a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth taste that was a perfect balance of flavors — not too spicy, not too bland, but just right. Side tempura dishes of eggplant, sweet potato and carrot made eating vegetables a pleasure rather than a chore. Sure they may have been deep fried, but it still counts in my book.

No meal is complete without dessert and to my delight, it didn’t disappoint. Though we enjoyed the frangelico creme brulee, there was a clear winner in my eyes. A chocolate lover at heart, the lava cake was the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

Sushi Roku can be described as part trendy sushi bar, part elegant dining excursion. All in all, Sushi Roku is a fusion of great tasting Japanese cuisine, sleek design and a hip presentation of meals. As the staff pleasantly says when you leave, “Arigatou!” Thank you! And we will indeed come again.

If you go:
7277 E. Camelback Rd.
Scottsdale
480-870-2121
www.sushiroku.com

Spreeman Piano Innovations

Michael Spreeman, Owner Of Spreeman Piano Innovations

Michael Spreeman
Spreeman Piano Innovations
Title: Owner | Est.: 2004
www.spreemanpianoinnovations.com

From an early age, Michael Spreeman knew he was meant to work with pianos. Beginning at age 18, he experienced nearly every aspect of the industry — from servicing pianos for recording studios and artists, to technical consulting, to working as a high-end piano re-builder.

That young mindset has now come full circle with the establishment of Spreeman Piano Innovations. The company offers two models of pianos, a 7-foot-3-inch piano and a 9-foot concert grand piano. Each piano is custom built based on the client’s preferences, requiring an average of 5,000 hours of labor.
Creating a business within an industry with long-standing brand loyalty was a difficult task, but for Spreeman, it was a no-brainer.
“There is always a market for exclusive, high-quality product,” Spreeman says.

It all began when world-class pianist and composer Bob Ravenscroft asked Spreeman to redesign a piano for him. After receiving positive feedback from Ravenscroft, Spreeman went ahead with his dream of launching his own custom high-end piano building business. A five-year process of designing the ultimate piano — taking conventional technology and amplifying it — eventually resulted in the Ravenscroft 9-foot model.

The pianos are built with the finest materials, including flawless exterior cabinetry and cast iron frames that hail from one of the oldest manufacturing operations in Germany. The soundboard wood used in some of the pianos is sourced from the same forest used to create the famous Stradivarius violins. After finalizing the design for the pianos, Spreeman and his team showcased it to others in the industry. “Concerts and venues have given our pianos recognition as (a) high-end performance instrument, acceptance and support from the technical community, and has helped to secure our position in the market with other high-end manufacturers,”Spreeman says.

The transition from turning his passion into a successful business hasn’t beenan easy one, but it’s a journey that Spreeman has been more than happy to take. Instead of trying to do everything on his own, he has learned to seek assistance and advice fromthe business community. “By expanding my thinking to more of a ‘team’ or ‘collaborative effort’ approach, I have been able to assemble a core team whose skill sets are complementary,” Spreeman says.

The company employs Spreeman’s son, Andrew; Stephanie, the receptionist; and Robert Springer, who utilizes his high-tech skills to optimize the performance of the piano’s mechanical action. “As with any artist, I constantly seek out opportunities to further the knowledge base for my craft and interface with other successful business associates and artists,” Spreeman says. “Ultimately though, I’m just a guy with a dream, who is willing to take a risk and do whatever is necessary to fulfill it.”