It’s big and pink and it’s coming to a curb near you

June 7, 2010
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A lot of the curbsides in suburbia, throughout the U.S. and Canada, will have a bit of a pink hue soon on trash pickup day.

Those big, dark-colored plastic carts the waste-hauling companies give their customers? A lot of them will soon be pink and will bear the loop of ribbon logo that symbolizes breast cancer awareness.

The idea came from Cascade Engineering, which makes the curbside carts for waste and recycling hauling companies around the country.

Last week, when the Business Journal called Jo-Anne Perkins at Cascade, she had just heard from a hauler in Georgia who recently had placed an order for 100 pink carts. The hauler made a small community announcement about the impending arrival of the pink carts, and within hours, called Cascade to say it needed 522 carts.

Cascade Engineering donates five dollars from the sale of each cart to the American Cancer Society to support breast cancer awareness programs.

Perkins is the general manager of Cascade’s Cart Solutions business unit. Last Sept. 1, she was in a meeting with her team at Cascade, and she had an idea. Sept. 1 is the anniversary of her mother’s death from breast cancer a couple of decades ago, at age 51. Perkins’ grandmother had also died of breast cancer — at age 51.

Perkins explained her idea to her team: making pink curb carts to promote breast cancer awareness and help raise money for the cause.

Cascade just began marketing the pink carts in mid-May, “and we’re getting unbelievable traction in our industry,” she said.

Cascade figured the waste haulers would be interested in making the pink carts available to their customers. But what Perkins and her team also discovered was that there is a consumer market for smaller pink carts that people can use in and around the house “and make a statement.”

On Tuesday, Cascade is holding a special event at its headquarters at 3400 Innovation Court in southeast Grand Rapids to unveil the pink cart program in collaboration with the American Cancer Society. Perkins and Cascade CEO Fred Keller will be there, along with representatives from some of the waste/recycling haulers.

“In West Michigan, every hauler, without exception, has contacted us in full support,” said Perkins.

The program’s success might also be considered a birthday present for Perkins. For years, she said, she had wondered if she would live to age 52 and break the cruel breast cancer cycle in her family.

She just turned 52.

NeoCon nuggets

The Worden Co., a Holland-based furniture manufacturer specializing in library solutions, is introducing a new company at this year’s NeoCon: Sparkeology. Sparkeology is a collaborative effort that also includes graphic design firm Square One Design; Via Design, an architectural and design firm; and Via’s sister company, Viable, a product development company.

Sparkeology’s freshman line of products will feature case goods, seating and table solutions. Perhaps the company’s most clever product is a versatile work tool named Flip. As its name suggests, the product works when right side up or upside down and is meant to house bags, work as a side table or a stool. Flip has entered the Best of NeoCon competition under the office accessories category.

Trendway’s NeoCon showroom is at riverside — a touch off the much-beaten path of the Merchandise Mart. Trendway will continue to feature riverboat tours as a part of the NeoCon experience.

“Our Monday is an incredible day for us. We have our river cruises in the afternoon,” Bill Bundy, president of Trendway, said. “We board a cruise boat on the Chicago River right off of our showroom’s deck. We attract a lot of people for that, and it’s become a tradition for us.”

Griffins boost community

The Grand Rapids Griffins’ community programs and charitable efforts during the 2009-10 American Hockey League season generated nearly $330,000 for schools, organizations and nonprofits throughout West Michigan, accounting for a significant portion of the $3 million total raised by the AHL’s 29 teams for charitable causes this year.

Over the last eight seasons, the Griffins’ charitable activities have helped generate more than $2.5 million for various causes and organizations in West Michigan.

As usual, the Griffins Youth Foundation was the top beneficiary of the team’s endeavors, receiving approximately $130,000 through the annual golf classic ($85,000), the Great Skate Winterfest at Rosa Parks Circle ($17,000) and a game-worn jersey auction Jan. 30 ($14,600), plus fundraisers such as the fifth annual Sled Wings vs. Griffins sled hockey game Jan. 12, and the season-long raffle of the Griffins/Van Andel Arena playhouse.

Tip-A-Griffin returned for a sixth overall season, as all Griffins players spent the evening of Nov. 16 serving food at seven Grand Rapids-area Applebee’s locations to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. Tips and auction proceeds from the three-hour event amounted to $7,500. Meanwhile, the Griffins raised $2,000 for D.A. Blodgett for Children and St. John’s Home during the inaugural Pumping Gas fundraiser, held at three J&H Family Store/Marathon locations March 9. 

On Oct. 12, the Griffins hosted the second-annual “Pups and Pucks” Walk-A-Thon at Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary in Lake Odessa, in partnership with the Griffins Booster Club. The event raised $12,000 for the Midwest’s largest no-kill shelter.

Sustaining a pilot project

Grand Valley State University’s proposed student recreation fields and wetlands project has been accepted in a program that hopes to create national guidelines for sustainable land design.

The Sustainable Site Initiative Program is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.

The proposed student recreation fields project at Grand Valley encompasses approximately 65 acres of land development. The three-phase project includes an aggressive stormwater management system, new rugby field, lacrosse field, 300-meter track, two softball fields, track throws area, picnic shelters, and a concessions/locker rooms/scoring building.

A 44-acre wetland complex will be constructed for treatment of stormwater runoff generated from the project and the surrounding campus. Captured stormwater in underground detention, as well as the wetland complex, will be reused in the campus irrigation system.

Focus on education

Jonathan Jelks, co-organizer of GR V.O.I.C.E. and The Talented Think Tank, said the group will host a second symposium in a series of community forums about Grand Rapids Public Schools and community involvement.

“This will be a positive, solution-oriented meeting that will include a roundtable discussion and an open Q&A session that focuses on the 5 percent failing schools list, turnaround model options for GRPS and how these models have been successfully implemented in the past, and explanation on President Obama's Race to the Top programs which we are eligible for,” Jelks said.

The event will be held Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy, 645 Logan St. SE, and will be an open forum to discuss challenges and opportunities facing GRPS. There will also be an opportunity for questions from the audience during the forum.

Roundtable participants include Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell; school superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr.; Paul Helder, president, Grand Rapids Education Association; Ron Gorman, principal, Creston High School; Amanda Palmer, teacher, Burton Middle School; Wanda Couch, parent/PTSA organizer, Ottawa Hills High School; Senita Lenear, vice president, Grand Rapids Board of Education; and Craig Datema, CEO, Triangle Associates Inc.

The forum will be moderated by community members Jelks and Jon Waalkes.

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