Mixing business sustainability and art its gone

September 25, 2011
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For the third consecutive year, Cascade Engineering is sponsoring the ArtPrize Sustainability Award for the artist whose work best reflects sustainable business practices and the triple bottom line. This year the plastics manufacturing company has invited Susan Lyons, an expert in "environmentally intelligent industrial and consumer products," to serve as juror for the award.

Lyons is the principal of Susan Lyons Studio LLC, based in New York City and dedicated to developing "compelling and environmentally intelligent products." Lyons also will be featured as part of the ArtPrize Speaker Series on Monday, Oct. 3.

"The Sustainability Award is about more than supporting an artist; it's supporting an ideal that can have a profound impact on people and our planet," said Kenyatta Brame, chief administrative officer and services group vice president at Cascade Engineering.

Lyons also has been a product designer for Herman Miller.

Cascade Engineering routinely goes beyond the typical industrial concerns limited to costs and margins. Recently, it formed a partnership with Compass Point Labor Management in an attempt to help decrease the unemployment rate of returning West Michigan military veterans while providing area employers with skilled and dependable job candidates. The two companies' Armed Forces to Work Forces initiative commences Oct. 3 at a summit for business leaders interested in joining the new partnership. There will be another meeting in November for employers to learn more about how they can place the veterans in their organizations.

Bloody well done

If you get the chance to speak with the artists who are competing in the third version of ArtPrize, many might tell you that they put their blood, sweat and tears into their works. If Jordan Eagles tells you that, believe him — especially the blood part.

Eagles' entry, "BARC 1-6," is at DeVos Place. It's a six-panel exploration of the connection between body and spirit that he feels represents regeneration, rebirth and the powerful life force in us all. Each panel is made of acrylic, resin, copper and, yes, blood.

Eagles has been using blood in his creations for over a decade. His current work has been described as a dynamic wash of burgundy, crimson and ruby that mix with near-blacks and rusts to form a rich vibrant surface that "glows with energy." The curves and flow of his piece are created with blood. If Eagles' work wins the competition, perhaps other artists will consider making a transfusion to his use of materials.

The survey says …

For a few weeks now, the homepage of www.grbj.com has asked readers to weigh in on the One Kent proposal to merge the governments of Grand Rapids and Kent County.

Readers were asked: Does the consolidation of government services between Kent County and Grand Rapids, as proposed by the One Kent Coalition, make sense?

Of 231 responses, 130 responded with no, 55 voted yes, three were unsure, and 43 asked to see the plan first. Based on percentages, that works out to 56.3 percent no, 23.8 percent yes, and 18.6 percent with "show me first."

Might this vote foreshadow the percentages at the polls if the proposal gets that far?

Nyal Deems certainly hopes not.

Family value

Until this month, those who needed a certified copy of a birth certificate, marriage license, death certificate, property deeds, or any other personal vital record had only two choices: order it by mail, pay a fee and wait; or, trek to the county clerk's office, pay a fee, and wait in line to receive a paper copy affixed with a raised seal to verify the document's authenticity.

Now, residents of Ottawa County have a third option.

Ottawa is the first county in the state to employ a new technology called TrueCertify from ImageSoft Inc., which allows government agencies to authenticate and deliver certified documents electronically and enables the recipient to verify the document contents via the Web. The technology provides an alternative to the raised seal traditionally used to certify a document by employing an encryption key.

"The county will benefit from cost-saving and process efficiencies, while the citizens of Ottawa County will enjoy improved service with the added convenience of receiving certified documents through e-mail," said Ottawa County Clerk Dan Krueger of the TrueCertify technology.

& that's all, folks

Keeping up with technology is always difficult for businesses, and sometimes it's just better to give in.

That's what Plante Moran, formerly known as Plante & Moran, did last week when one of the nation's largest public accounting and business advisory firms simply dropped its ampersand. The reason is obvious to anyone who has ever used the Internet.

"The ampersand isn't compatible with current and emerging technologies and can't be used in a web address, for example," said Jeff Antaya, chief marketing officer and firm partner. "Plus, many of Plante Moran's entities, such as Plante Moran Financial Advisors and Plante Moran Global Services, never used the ampersand, nor is it part of the firm logo or signage."

While the change may not be noticeable for most, Antaya said the firm hopes dropping the ampersand will actually keep part of its history alive.

"When staff members, clients and prospects say the firm name, the ampersand is generally omitted anyway. The ampersand also makes it too easy to shorten the name to Plante, and it is important to our firm's history and legacy to maintain the continuity of the Moran name, keeping the philosophies and spirit of Frank Moran alive for current and future generations of staff members," he said. "Frankly, it's meaningful to us that the firm be known as Plante Moran."

& before you think that accountants don't have a sense of humor, consider the firm's official goodbye to the ampersand. Antaya said because the symbol has been such an integral part of the firm's history, and in keeping with the Plante Moran tradition of offering the option of preparing a departure memo for departing staff (fondly referred to as the "green memo" from when the firm used bulletin board memos as a key form of communication), the firm is sponsoring a green memo contest for staff. Titled "& Now What?" the ampersand-less contest asks staff to prepare a departure memo of up to 500 words for the ampersand.

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