Issaquah startup transforms trash into treasure at local grocery store

May 15, 2012

City Council President Tola Marts speaks at WISErg’s public unveiling of a food-scrap harvester at PCC Natural Market on May 8. By Autumn Monahan

The castoffs from daily activity in a grocery store — fruit peels from the juice bar, meat trimmings from the deli, discarded vegetable leaves from the produce section — no longer go to the compost heap at the PCC Natural Markets store at Pickering Place.

Instead, employees dump the refuse into a boxy structure tucked near the loading dock. The apparatus, a machine called a harvester, transforms the peels and trimmings into sludge — a building block for organic fertilizer.

Issaquah-based WISErg developed the harvester and built the prototype for the local grocery co-op. The company also uses the sludge to produce fertilizer, a tawny liquid no thicker than water.

Microsoft alumni Larry LeSueur and Jose Lugo founded WISErg in 2009. The startup venture is based across the street from Pickering Place. (The company name is a nod to the erg, a tiny unit of energy.)

“We all know the scraps headed for the Dumpsters are full of nutrients and value,” LeSueur said at a public debut for the harvester May 8. “The last thing we should do is landfill them and create more environmental and community headaches.”

WISErg approached Diana Crane, director of sustainability for Seattle-based PCC, and broached the idea of installing a harvester at a store.

“How exciting it is that the trash produced daily from our juice bar, deli, meat and produce departments that would otherwise be sent to landfills is now being offered in our PCC stores as a high-quality plant food,” Issaquah Store Director Debbi Montgomery said.

Read more

Local school plays role in French presidential election

May 1, 2012

Inside the Issaquah School District boundaries is a rarity in vote-by-mail Washington — a polling location.

Frédéric Dubut

The election did not appear on local ballots, but the outcome could resonate on a global stage. The only polling location for French expatriates in the region is the French Immersion School of Washington, a campus situated along West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast next to Sunset Elementary School.

The campus hosted a stream of voters late last month amid the initial voting in the French presidential election.

Frédéric Dubut drove from Seattle in a borrowed Zipcar on April 21 to slip a ballot into a transparent box and cast a vote in the 10-candidate contest.

The initial round culled the field to top candidates for a runoff election. Dubut plans to return to the French Immersion School of Washington to cast a ballot in the runoff May 6 — or May 5 in Washington due to the time difference.

Read more

Cougar Ridge Elementary School students witness citizenship ceremony

April 10, 2012

Ann Marie Petry, Cougar Ridge Elementary School music instructor (right), leads students in the singing of two patriotic songs at an April 6 naturalization ceremony held at Cougar Ridge. The naturalization candidates are on the stage behind Petry. By Tom Corrigan

Isabelle Bouanna came here from France in 1995 when her husband Cyril got a job at Microsoft.

Read more

Lakeside Center for Autism uses technology as treatment tool

March 20, 2012

Dan Stachelski, CEO, director and a speech-language pathologist at Lakeside Center for Autism, stands at a mosaic of jigsaw puzzle pieces made by some of the youngsters in art class who attend the school. By Greg Farrar

The hustle and bustle at Lakeside Center for Autism is intentional.

Tucked in rooms outfitted in technology both tried-and-true and cutting-edge, children and therapists spend hours each day to overcome the obstacles put in place by autism. The commotion and laughter emanating from behind the closed doors come as signs of success.

Lakeside Center for Autism uses the popular Microsoft Kinect system and other tools to treat the complicated neural development disorder.

“It’s all about participation,” company CEO, president and founder Dan Stachelski said. “Technology can do that.”

Read more

City, Issaquah Chamber of Commerce honor innovators

February 28, 2012

The most innovative businesses in Issaquah manufacture fasteners for airliners, use technology to treat autism, and rely on a tiny-but-talented staff to create slick productions.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — Marketing Masters, Lakeside Center for Autism and Impact Studio Pro — at a Feb. 22 ceremony and luncheon.

The carbon-neutral community zHome also received a nod as the most innovative public-private partnership. The city spearheaded the 10-unit townhouse development from concept to completion.

Leaders from the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

Read more

Issaquah balloons from small town to boomtown

February 21, 2012

Most citizens did not need a decennial update from the U.S. Census Bureau to recognize Issaquah as a boomtown.

The dramatic increase in population is a recent phenomenon.

Issaquah started as a pinpoint on maps, a remote hamlet in the rough-and-tumble Washington Territory.

Even as Seattle boomed amid World War II and into the postwar era, Issaquah did not crest 4,000 people until the late 1960s.

The population growth continued at a deliberate pace until a Microsoft-powered population explosion caused Issaquah and other Eastside cities to expand as the last century barreled to a close.

Read more

Together Center receives $35,420 grant for renovation

February 7, 2012

The Together Center in Redmond, which helps local residents, has received a grant of $35,420 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound to support renovation of recently vacated space for use by nonprofit, direct-service agencies.

Previously, the center was the recipient of two $5,000 grants from the Microsoft Corp. and the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, while the Rotary Club of Redmond pitched in an additional $1,500.

Read more

Challenger Elementary’s Festival of Cultures celebrates diversity

February 7, 2012

Nuoyan Zhang, 6, plays the Chinese instrument known in English as the koto during the Festival of Cultures held recently at Challenger Elementary School Photo by Tom Corrigan

The American table had a bag of food from McDonald’s and a Dorothy doll straight out of the movie version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

A Mexican table featured ethnic toys, including a Spanish Monopoly game. The Japanese table had a lot of visitors, perhaps all wanting to try what turned out to be some surprisingly tasty Spam sushi.

Read more

Veterinarian fulfills a lifelong wish list

January 17, 2012

Sarah Owens (center) becomes friends with two women during a luncheon at one of the first gatherings of Tanzanian and Kenyan Maa-speaking peoples (Maasai nomadic tribes) at a sharing of the commonalities and differences in traditions. Contributed

As a young person, veterinarian Dr. Sarah Owens made a point of asking her elders what it was they wished they had done with their lives. As she listened to their regrets, Owens made a promise to herself to “make sure I didn’t miss out on anything.”

Owens kept that promise. She graduated from Brown and Harvard, traveled to the mountains of Nepal to care for animals on film shoots and spent many hours in the castles around Europe performing delicate surgeries on animals. In between stints at college, Owens was an active leader in several of nongovernmental organizations in South Africa. Eventually, the pull of her native Northwest roots drew her home to Issaquah.

“Aside from the Arctic and Antarctic, I’ve lived most my life on the continents and am completely happy to be back here in the Northwest,” she said, adding that she feels a symbiotic relationship to people in the Northwest.

“No matter where I was, every time I met someone in a remote and exotic locale who was from the Pacific Northwest, I felt we shared a certain way of connecting to the natural and social environment,” she said. “I am sure it stems from coming from a landscape of such great soul.”

Read more

Calendar fundraiser celebrates felines

January 10, 2012

Susan Bunch, an employee at Microsoft’s Issaquah campus, loves animals. Her current family includes two rescued cats, a horse and a dog. But Bunch admits there’s a soft spot in her heart for cats.

“Pets bring so much to our lives, and cats in particular are unfortunately overlooked sometimes as an almost disposable pet,” she said. “They deserve so much more.”

In 2009, Bunch along with fellow Microsoft employees Karen Easterbrook and Kristi Minietta began the yearly creation of the Cats of Microsoft calendar benefiting the Forget Me Not Animal Shelter.

Every year, Microsoft employees are encouraged to donate to the shelter located on the eastern side of the state in Ferry County. In return for their contributions, Bunch puts together a calendar featuring cats that belong to the many generous donors.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »