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Archives for December 30, 2014

Arlington Startups Continued to Grow in 2014

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

In the startup world, change is rarely slow and steady. For many of the businesses has profiled this year, change has already come, and it came fast.

In July, we looked at SevaCall, a Crystal Tech Fund company that allows users to call and immediately be connected with a pre-vetted service provider, like a plumber or HVAC repair service. When we spoke to co-founder Manpreet Singh in July, the company had already raised $1.3 million in funding and was in the midst of angling for more capital.

In September, Manpreet and his brother, Gurpreet, announced that they had raised $2.6 million more and rebranded. SevaCall is now talklocal, and the company has moved out of Crystal City. According to Disruption Corporation Founder Paul Singh — previously Seva Call’s landlord — they have relocated back to College Park, Md. Crystal Tech Fund was one of the lead investors in the new funding round.

Singh, himself a subject of a Startup Monday profile, has continued to show that Disruption Corporation will not be categorized. After launching as an investment fund, then adding investment advising to its portfolio of services, Disruption doubled the size of its headquarters and filled it almost immediately. Now, neighboring the dozen or so startups already on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive, is a coding “boot camp.”

DescribeIt is still in its Courthouse headquarters, but co-founder and CEO Ryan Yanchuleff tells that the company recently closed a $255,000 round of investment — he had been searching for investment to help market his landscaping proposal software — and hired its first non-founder full-time employee.

Most importantly for the company, the full product is launching on Thursday with the new year. When landscaping projects start to boom in the spring, Yanchuleff and his co-founder, Ed Barrientos, wnated to make sure all the kinks were worked out.

“We’ve been busy for sure,” Yanchuleff said. “We’ll be making our big splash at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show up in Baltimore on Jan. 14-16.”

This August, Airside Mobile launched its major product at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. The Mobile Passport app allows users to fill out their customs forms on their smartphone and download the receipt. Essentially, it lets those with the app bypass the sometimes hours-long lines for customs, and breeze by.

The app was developed in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Airside Mobile is planning to launch in other airports around the country soon.

Startup Monday has covered companies that specialize in complex, big data analytics, healthcare technology and everything in between. One of the simplest ideas — an app that lets users submit pictures to win prizes — has taken hold.

Snaapiq, with Rosslyn-based Jacob Perler at the helm, took that simple idea and used it to raise $180,000 in seed funding last month. When profile Snaapiq in August, 90 percent of the photo contests were sponsored by Perler and his co-founder, Ryo Hang. Today, Snaapiq partners with university athletic programs, Alex and Ani and to sponsor contests for its users.

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Top 10 stories of 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh part in our 10-part series counting down the top news stories of 2014.

PROVO — The Bus Rapid Transit proposal is in the hands of the federal government and beholden to President Obama’s budget for 2016. 

The past year of getting to that point saw more stops and starts and stalls than a BRT bus.

It all began in January, when three new members of the Provo Municipal Council were installed and the questioning of the BRT project began. After more than 13 years of planning, studies and compromises, BRT was close to becoming a reality. However, as the rubber was getting ready to hit the road, some stakeholders appeared willing to let the air out of the project’s tires.

Kim Santiago, David Sewell and Stephen Hales, the freshmen on the council, raised issues with the BRT plan, saying they were concerned, along with a number of residents in the Oak Hills and Wasatch neighborhoods, that Option 4 did not meet the needs of the areas.

The BRT project team, including the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah County and Provo’s Transportation and Mobility Advisory Committee, chose that route, which would begin at the station on University Avenue at about 500 North, and would eventually reach Utah Valley University and the Orem intermodal hub along University Parkway.

Early on, Provo Municipal Council members were given three presentations that included stakeholders asking to consider concerns centered around 900 East. Changes on the Brigham Young University campus with the closure of Campus Drive put a wrench in the opportunity to have a major BRT hub at the Wilkinson Center. That made 900 East the next best choice for the project for some, including the Federal Transportation Agency.

Provo Mayor John Curtis spent hours in negotiations and working with several mayors throughout the county to get their vocal and financial support for the project. Concerns that neighborhood leaders might thwart more than 13 years of work had him and his administration in crisis mode.

Once the BRT route is approved and on Obama’s budget, it is expected the design portion of the route will begin. Preliminary proposals have already raised concern about lost trees on University Avenue, competition with the new Rhydes buses sponsored by BYU for its students to get to and from school, and other details.

“I think that the main objective as we continue in the design portion of the BRT project is to look long term on how it can and will affect the way we utilize public transportation,” Curtis said. “It’s imperative that we nail down how it will enhance the quality of life of Provo residents.

“This includes how it interacts with automobile traffic, bikes, pedestrians, commerce and landscape.”

The recent contract BYU signed with Rhydes may play a factor in BRT ridership; that is left to be seen. Curtis is confident it will not.

“I’m excited at how proactive BYU has been as it relates to how its students navigate both on and off campus,” Curtis said. “The university is making bold decisions that we hope will increase mobility and help that portion of our population move more freely around the city.”

When council members gave push back after hearing from local stakeholders, it looked like the BRT proposal might die, and new information and proposals would have to get back to the FTA at a later time, thus closing a window of opportunity.

What stakeholders and others continually failed to mention was the fact that Orem was a partner in the project. Provo’s neighbor voted on the route and project two years earlier.

“It’s a joint project. One decision affects the other,” said Paul Goodrich, Orem’s transportation engineer, after a February stall. “Mayor Curtis knows what he is talking about on how funding is critical. It would be a setback in trying to improve transit between the two cities.

“We were able to show the FTA we had a good project. Will the stars [ever] align again, who knows. BRT is really important to both cities. In my opinion it’s as good, if not better, than light rail.”

While residents, leaders and stakeholders throughout the county awaited the Provo Municipal Council decision on Bus Rapid Transit, county mayors had already spoken. They wanted Option 4 or they wanted their money back.

Many mayors had given precious road money from their cities to the BRT project because they believed it would be the best thing for the county. But infighting had them and others all the way to the FTA in Washington wondering if the project was going to happen.

The Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) is designated by the governor as the metropolitan planning organization for the Provo/Orem urbanized area. Their interest in BRT was $75 million strong, but only if Option 4 was the preferred route.

When it came to voting, the Provo Municipal Council was wavering and recalled a vote, then sought a second opinion on the route that was slated to cost $70,000 from the city’s rainy day fund. The research was expected to be completed in four weeks.

In the end, it cost residents $95,000, took six weeks, and the group acknowledged Option 4 was the best choice after all.

In the meantime, Orem CIty Council members revisited BRT in an August work session. They learned just what was going to happen to make the UTA buses rapid and how much construction that means to along University Parkway.

Councilman Hans Andersen vocalized his concern about losing trees and green spaces along the parkway. 

“We’re trying to keep as many trees as possible,” said Chad Eccles, with Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG). “And we are required to replace them.”

Orem project representatives are meeting one-on-one with business owners along the parkway to the intermodal hub off Geneva Road, where the BRT will stop and make the return trip to the Provo intermodal hub.

Part of the project will include expanding the UTA Timpanogos Maintenance Facility off Geneva Road and University Parkway.

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Arlington Garden Club busy with many projects around town

By Florence Dunlap

Posted Dec. 29, 2014 @ 8:11 am


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Miami Gardens receives donation from Miami Dolphins for parks

Miami Gardens received another boost in its efforts to improve and renovate the city’s parks when it was given a donation from the Miami Dolphins Foundation at their final home game Sunday afternoon.

The city received $50,000 from the Dolphins Foundation and an NFL Foundation grant to fund renovations of Lester Brown Park, 310 NW 191st St., and the Brentwood Pool, 18800 NW 28th Pl. The parks are both near Sun Life Stadium and will feature the Dolphins’ Play 60 logo at both of the facilities.

The work will include building a new outdoor exercise area, new fencing around the park, expanding the walking trail and re-sodding the field. New landscaping and irrigation will also be installed along with video surveillance.

“Providing children and their families the opportunity to enjoy these renovated parks for generations to come is an inspiration to our entire organization,” Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert said he was happy to work with a community partner to give residents the opportunity to get more use out of the park space.

“It gives us the opportunity to transform the open space into more than just open space,” Gilbert said. “It allows people to come and and use the park to the greatest extent possible, even if it’s just for exercise.”

Assistant City Manager Craig Clay said he met with members of the Dolphins Foundation to talk about fitness stations and potential uses for the park and those talks created this partnership.

“We hope this is the first step in a long partnership with the Dolphins,” Clay said.

The planned renovations to the parks come as the city continues to expand plans for its general-obligation bond projects. Voters approved the $60 million bond issue last April and $50 million is set to be used on improving and renovating parks throughout the city.

Some plans for the bond have already been announced including a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) facility at Risco Park, 19010 NW 39th Ave., that will also house a recording and TV studio and instruction facility. The city negotiated a 40-year lease agreement with the Miami-Dade School Board, with two 10-year extensions.

Staffing for the STEM after-school programs will be paid for by the School Board, while the city will pay $1 a year for the lease and will handle maintenance of the land.

Continued work on Rolling Oaks Park and on a real-time crime center have also been discussed. City officials, at town hall meetings before the bond vote, said they will continue to hear community input as they plan future projects.

Clay said city staff hadn’t outlined a timetable for when the renovations will began but he hopes the work will begin soon after the new year.

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Vertical Gardens Exist. You’re Welcome.

Green is gold in today’s environmentally conscious market, and studies have shown that demonstrable environmental consciousness can tip the balance for consumers when making purchasing decisions. Retailers have been quick to take notice—not just by using sustainable processes and packaging in their ventures, but by changing the way consumers experience their brands. One high-impact way to do so is by incorporating what’s known as living walls—vertical planting systems—into retail spaces. 

Environmentally conscious jeweler Todd Reed built a two-level living wall into his recently opened store in Venice, Calif. The installation begins on the building’s facade and continues to the interior, cut by a wall of glass. Mike M. Moore, founder of architecture firm Tres Birds Workshop, is helping the Boulder, Colo.-based jeweler stake his claim in California. 

“We felt a need to soften the building and connect outside to inside,” Moore says. The exterior portion of the wall helps absorb auto noise from the busy street, acts as signage and lures passersby with its beauty and jasmine scent. Inside the store, the wall also works
as a sound dampener, while reducing heat and adding color and life to the space. Reed, whose designs often incorporate raw natural elements such as rough diamonds, says the living wall reflects his aesthetic and keeps him “personally inspired.”

Adding organic elements to the retail design equation can also add appeal for consumers. “We wanted an atmosphere that people love to be around,” says Marjan Sarshar, majority owner of the quickly growing Kreation Organic chain of restaurants and juice bars in the Los Angeles area. “Greens will definitely do that.” Kreation’s signature look—seen at its 10 and counting locations—involves reclaimed wood walls covered with succulents. 

The initial inspiration came from a lack of space; some of Kreation’s locations are as small as 220 square feet. “If we added landscaping, we wouldn’t have any space for seating, so we looked to the walls instead,” Sarshar says. Though not a designer, she conceived the first Kreation living wall herself, choosing succulents for their low maintenance requirements. Since then, all other Kreation locations have featured that signature living wall. 

According to Hootan Hamedani of Hootan Associates, which assists Kreation in implementing its look, the walls have helped successfully build the brand. “Everybody knows Kreation with that type of living-wall design,” he says. 

Batali Bastianich Hospitality Group (BBHG), which operates celebrity chef Mario Batali’s restaurants, has long advocated for sustainability. As a complement to its green programs—a no-bottled-water policy, recycling and composting and energy-efficient building design, among other initiatives—BBHG has added edible living walls at Pizzeria Mozza’s California locations in West Hollywood and Newport Beach. 

The installations help with cooling and “make the restaurants more striking and highlight our green initiatives,” says Elizabeth Meltz, director of environmental health for BBHG. But they sometimes serve an additional purpose as well.

“The wall was never intended to supply the restaurant with all of its herbs,” Meltz points out. “It’s like any other herb garden; if something is especially lush or something inspires the chef, it might get used.” 

Pizzeria Mozza’s walls were created by Jim Mumford of Good Earth Plant Company, San Diego’s largest locally owned provider of interior and exterior landscaping. Mumford says living walls, a nonexistent portion of his business a few years ago, now represent 30 percent of it. Next up, Good Earth is installing the walls at branches of the home store Pirch in Dallas and Atlanta. 

A report released a year ago by the Natural Resources Defense Council noted that consumers are willing to spend up to 12 percent more at commercial centers with certain types of quality landscaping. So organic design elements like living walls don’t just make good green sense—they’re good business sense, too. 

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Are You Tending Your Garden of Love?

“Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.”  -Jim Rohn

The wish for a deep sense of human connection and commitment is universal. Ask people what is most important to them and their first answer is always the same–their family. Our families give us a sense of identity and belonging, reminding us of who we are and what is unique about us. They are also the context, the garden soil, out of which our individuality flowers.

The metaphor of a garden is an apt one for many reasons. All over the world, there are gardens of vastly different designs, planted at different times, at different stages of growth and decay, with different types of plants. In spite of the fact that no two are alike, all gardens have some common needs–sunlight and water, planting of seeds and cutting back weeds. In short, for a garden to flourish, it needs tending.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

What gives families a strong sense of connection? The answer is simple even though often so difficult to do. We must spend quality time together, or if separated by geography, spend time communicating. Only by making the time to share the details of our daily lives as well as our successes, hardships, dreams and disappointments can we reap the rewards of our intimate bonds.

Twenty-first century families are more isolated than ever before. With both parents working more hours than ever and with the demands of work infiltrating family time via computers and cell phones, most everyone we talk to complains about the same thing. There’s just not enough time!

What Happens When We Neglect Each Other?

The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people — no mere father and mother — as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born. ~Pearl S. Buck

When we neglect our close family and friends, not only do we feel more lonely and isolated but we are far more likely to suffer from depression. Psychotherapists have long known that social support is crucial–not only when the patient suffers from depression but with any physical or emotional illness or disability.

When you visit your doctor for your annual check-up, how often are you asked about the quality of your relationships? We now know that this is even more important than we thought. Is it time for you to reach out to those you care about?

A new study by Alan Teo and his team in the Psychiatry Department of the University of Michigan conducted a ten-year follow-up of almost 5000 adults aged 25-75 to determine just how big a part relationship factors played in the risk of developing depression years later. Their conclusion: the magnitude of the impact of social relationship quality on risk for depression is as strong as the effect of biological risk factors (like obesity, smoking, high blood pressure) for cardiovascular disease.

It turns out that what is relevant is how each of us subjectively feel about the quality of our relationships. The study revealed that of the people who rate their relationships as positive and supportive, only 1 in 15 will develop a diagnosable depression in ten years time. In marked contrast, 1 in 7 who describe poor social relationships will get depressed. Now that’s a big difference.

Remember to Tend Your Garden

So remind yourself in the following week to take some time each day–even if only minutes– to connect with your family members. Remember to use the precious times you already have to talk and listen rather than remain plugged into cell phones or ipods.

Catch the moments in between–like driving in the car, eating a snack, walking the dog–to share thoughts and feelings with your loved ones. These moments don’t have to hold long or intense conversations. Just checking in lets your spouse or child know that you are thinking about them during the day.

Sometimes the fastest way to nourish your garden of love is to stop what you are doing when someone walks into the room and just smile. Call them an affectionate nickname. Even better, offer a hug or a kiss.

Offer to help with a chore. Leave a secret love note. Say please and thank you. If you are really brave, ask your partner or your children how you can better show your love and appreciation. Even the smallest of efforts can grow miraculously. Who would ever believe that an acorn becomes an oak tree?




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Treasures: Art deco bench features bold design

Dear Helaine and Joe:

My brother recently gave me this bench to try and research. I have sent pictures to a few different people, but they really could not identify it nor place any value. Could you give me some history and place a value? It seems overly ornate to just be a simple bench. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

M. W., Miami

Dear M. W.

Let’s begin with the style and date of this iron bench with its tattered cushion. It was probably made around 1925 and is in the famous art deco style.

The bench ends are quite extravagant and show a nude dancer clad in a cape and holding what appears to be two feather fans. There is an arch over her head and a star at her feet. At her side are two anthropomorphic figures of beasts with animal heads, hoofed feet and human legs and torsos.

The rest is V-shaped supports, and in the photograph, there is a coppery cast that suggests the presence of some sort of bronze, maybe as a plating. The bench ends rise above the dirty and torn fabric seat to form armrests shaped like a stylized cross inside a trapezoid. The last decorative element of note is the dancer has been painted with what appears to be a kind of beige flesh tone — and if this bench is restored, this paint must not be touched, though it is a bit worn in places.

It is possible that this bench was once used in a theater — perhaps a burlesque theater, but that is just speculation on our part. However, we do wonder how many homeowners would like a bench featuring a nude fan dancer as the central motif, and that could affect the value.

The term art deco was not in wide use until the late 1960s, but the style that has been tagged with this designation has roots that go back to 1909 and the vivid and bold set designs created for the Ballet Russe in Paris by Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev. This “modern” look was soon adopted by fashion designers, sculptors, architects, interior designers and makers of everything from furniture to glass.

Unfortunately, World War I stifled the development of the movement, but it flourished once again after the conflict was over and reached its peak at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The phrase “arts decoratifs” gave rise to the more generic term art deco.

There are two types of art deco — one that is very industrial with no nonsense that features squares, circles, rectangles and straight clean lines; the other features stylized fruit and flowers, and its icon was the bobbed-hair flapper (such as the central figure in today’s bench). Art deco was an artistic style that was soon corrupted by more manufactured images, and the true style perished in the 1930s (only to be revived later).

The value of this bench depends on its condition, and in this state with its tattered cushion, it might have a retail value in the $150 to $200 range. But with a well restored cushion (using only the best fabric), that value could soar to the $500 to $700 range.


Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you’d like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN, or email them at If you’d like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.


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Learning science, math and more in school garden

There’s a lot more growing in the garden at Corte Madera School in Portola Valley than plants. The school garden has, for the past two years, been used to grow the knowledge of Nancy Rhodes’ fifth-grade students in subjects as diverse as math and art.

The students have also learned lessons on science, engineering, reading and writing, while helping Ms. Rhodes and art teacher Brigid Horgan revitalize the garden at the fourth- to eighth-grade school.

The garden isn’t new but the way it is being used is. All the teachers at Corte Madera have been trying to use project-based learning, with academic subjects incorporated into hands-on projects. In Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Horgan’s classroom, the garden is part of the project.

The garden hadn’t been used much lately and was in need of revitalization. Ms. Horgan, who had helped to get the garden installed in 2003, teamed up with Ms. Rhodes. The two got a grant to put in new plants, soil and an irrigation system, and put their students to work.

Ms. Rhodes garden project is called “A Symbiotic Garden: Designed for a Purpose.” Ms. Rhodes hoped to have her students answer the question: Can animals live without plants, and can plants live without animals?” Students designed planting beds that would attract different animals to the garden to help them answer the question.

As part of the design process they used math skills to figure out the size of garden beds and how much soil would be needed to fill them. They also designed and built a garden workbench.

They are working on a field journal of plants and animals in the garden, using reading and writing, research and observational skills as well as drawing.

In Ms. Horgan’s art classes the students are making mosaic stepping stones and mosaic markers for the student-designed and planted garden beds.

Another garden-related project will be to design and build a covered greenhouse.

Parents and other community members have helped out with the project. Alex Von Feldt and Steve Masley helped the students choose what plants to grow and where to find them. Ms. Rhodes’ daughter, landscape architect Taya Rhodes Shoup, helped the students with their designs. Ms. Rhodes’ husband Lucien has come in to help the children do garden maintenance.

These are the garden beds designed by the students and a list of the plants, mostly native perennials, in each:

● Butterfly garden: beautiful rockcress, morning glory, Joaquin sunflower, deer brush, California false Indigo bush and American pearly everlasting.

● Bird garden: aster, California poppy, island bush snapdragon, Western blue flax and snowy penstemon.

● Bee garden: wild lupine, cosmos, baby blue eyes, bush anemone and California cone flower.

● Hummingbird garden: white hibiscus, pineapple sage, blue lupine, Chinese houses and fuchsia.

● Fruits and vegetables: carrots, blueberries, tomatoes, artichokes, grapes, sweet onions, raspberries and strawberries.

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