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by Katie Pyzyk — March 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.

Want a way to impress friends with a wild video camera trick, à la “The Matrix”? OrcaVue will spin your camera right round, baby, right round to create a professional-looking effect.

The Orcavue in use.The patent-pending technology revolves a camera around whatever item or person is positioned on a central, stationary platform.

The idea was born in October 2014 when Daniel Rosenberry and his brother, Jonathan, owned a small production company and wanted to pull off a 360-degree camera shot, but they didn’t have the proper equipment and didn’t have the money to hire a crew.

Rosenberry came up with some rough sketches for a device and showed his father, who constructed the first protype from “a bunch of stuff from our garage,” Rosenberry said. “A coffee can, a lazy susan and random stuff… he essentially built the very first ‘garage’ version of what the OrcaVue is.”

The Rosenberrys told their friend, Adam Boussouf, about the camera rig idea and he suggested patenting it. “Really, we weren’t thinking about it as any sort of business endeavor” and didn’t know how to go about that, Rosenberry said. So Boussouf came on board and took care of the business aspects.

“My brother had the initial vision. I designed everything. Dad put it together. And our friend pushed us to form a business. So we’re the four co-founders,” Rosenberry said.

Soon after officially launching the business in early 2015, orders quickly piled up. “It was definitely chaotic,” Rosenberry said. “We started getting a lot of orders coming in… and we didn’t quite know what to do.”

An early version of the Orcavue deviceThey realized they had to manufacture a lot of units in a short time span and did research to find a machine workshop. They found TechShop in Crystal City, which still is OrcaVue’s home base and where the devices are manufactured.

As for the name, OrcaVue is an acronym, of sorts, for “orbiting camera view.” The team wanted to have an animal on its logo and they did an internet search for animals that are known for circling, to reference the product’s circling functions. Fittingly, they learned that orcas — also called killer whales — swim circles around their prey. Thus, the OrcaVue name and logo came full circle and was adopted.

The business has evolved to become less about selling the camera rigs and more about selling services. The OrcaVue employees now spend most of their time on equipment rentals and event production. They show up at weddings, red carpet events and new product launches to work the machine and shoot video of the events.

OrcaVue doesn’t simply have local customers, either. The device has been used to shoot videos for numerous high-profile national clients including Olympian Simone Biles, Twitter, the Golden Globe Awards, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks and the TV show Dancing with the Stars.

OrcaVue employees continuously work on product improvements to devise a bigger, better, lighter system that can go faster and support heavier cameras.

As far as general business goals, Rosenberry would like further expansion, both in terms of the number of employees and in product and service reach. “I’d like to… grow the business regionally as well as internationally,” Rosenberry said. He’s working on that by setting up a partnership in Sweden and Australia to more easily cater to international clients.

“We’ve already surpassed anything we imagined that could happen,” Rosenberry said. “We’re a pretty relaxed company. We basically hired my friends and we all work together on it and have a great time.”

by Katie Pyzyk — January 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Startup Monday header
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.

Cybersecurity currently is a frequently discussed but often misunderstood field. At Adlumin, though, it’s a well-understood topic that’s more than just a buzzword. The employees design solutions to identify and prevent potential breaches in clients’ networks.

Adlumin logoCybersecurity is a broad term, but the Adlumin team targets what co-founder and VP of business development Timothy Evans calls “the Edward Snowden problem,” when a seemingly authorized user enters part of the network they’re not allowed to access.

“I realized that corporate breaches were continuing to succeed because attackers were able to steal the identities of employees and use that identity to attack the infrastructure as if they were that person,” said Adlumin president and CEO Robert Johnston. “The problem we set out to solve is the identity access and management piece.”

A small breach such as a user figuring out a computer password can compromise an entire business structure because the illegitimate user often gains access to other accounts with locally-saved passwords, such as Gmail or Twitter.

“Eventually [an intruder can] end up with the keys to the entire kingdom and they can literally access any system or cloud resource they want,” Johnston said.

That’s what happened during the Democratic National Committee hack last year when more than 100 users’ private email accounts were accessed, Johnston said. He led the response effort to the DNC breach and said those hackers “were able to access the system as if they were a user.”

Adlumin team membersAdlumin’s software can “see” and monitor every single user on a client’s network, even on a global scale. It incorporates user behavior analytics — which Johnston said not all cybersecurity companies deal with — to determine if a network is in danger.

“Rob decided we needed to solve a hard problem, which is to find intruders in a network. They don’t use things like malware or ransomware, they’re in the network and they look like your legitimate users,” Evans said. “There’s only one way to find them and that’s based on their behavior patterns to determine whether they’re a real user or a fake user.”

Adlumin’s software monitors a business’ network 24/7 to detect changes in user behaviors. Evans explained that it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to continuously update information about user habits. If the software detects a potential anomaly, it sends an alert. Think of it like a credit card company tracking a card user’s spending habits and sending a warning notification when an odd purchase occurs.

In addition to providing the monitoring software, Adlumin manages customers’ cyber infrastructure and training.

Clarendon-based Adlumin incorporated in June 2016 and was assisted by the Herndon-based Mach37 cybersecurity business incubator. It now has five full-time employees and plans further expansion this year.

“The Washington, D.C. metro area, and specifically Arlington, is an awesome place to do this business,” Evans said.

Noting the proximity to the country’s top intelligence agencies, Johnston said there’s “a lot of untapped human capital in this area” for cybersecurity.

As far as what’s in store for the future, Johnston said the Adlumin team will continue updating its software algorithms and wants to “dominate the identity and access management piece” of cybersecurity.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 10, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Fiber optic lines installed throughout ArlingtonMonday marked a milestone for the county’s multimillion dollar ConnectArlington fiber optic network: It has completed phase one of migrating Arlington Public Schools to the system and off of Comcast’s internet access.

But as APS prepares to enter phase two of the migration, it also has an open request for proposals (RFP) to build another fiber network, a potentially pricey project that it says is a “contingency plan.”

With phase one complete, 14 APS sites are now on the ConnectArlington network. Another 23 are expected be online by December.

Early last month, however, APS issued an RFP for a contractor to build a new fiber network for the school system. Proposals originally were due Monday, but the deadline has been extended to January 17. APS is supposed to choose a contractor for the project “as soon after that date as possible,” according to an addendum to the RFP. The RFP states that the new network must be constructed and functioning by April 2018.

APS says the additional fiber network is a contingency plan and ConnectArlington still will be its primary network. Therefore, APS will continue moving forward as planned with getting the next bunch of sites online with ConnectArlington by year’s end.

“APS is contracting for a backup system to remain in place until we know that ConnectArlington is complete and fully functional. With all of our instructional, testing, business functions and state reporting requirements, APS cannot risk not having a viable network infrastructure in place if ConnectArlington is delayed and not completed for any unforeseen reason,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

“Like the insurance policies we purchase to protect the investment in our buildings, buses and other critical components of APS operations, we hope we will never need the insurance, but those policies are in place — just in case,” said Linda Erdos, assistant superintendent for school and community relations

Arlington County communications director Bryna Helfer said that the remaining 21 county and 23 school sites included in the ConnectArlington project’s phase two — which begins in March — will continue to receive Comcast service until they’re fully migrated in December.

The county says that it cannot speak for APS’ desire for another fiber network but asserted that the ConnectArlington network has been performing for nearly two years without issue.

Crews installing fiber optic cables on Wilson Blvd“We are completely confident that we will install fiber into every planned county and school facility by the end of calendar year 2017, based on our previous years’ experience with the construction and operation of this project,” said James Schwartz, deputy county manager for public safety and technology.

In addition to the 14 APS buildings and 33 county buildings on the network thus far, Schwartz said, more than 130 traffic signals have been connected. Plus, the public safety radio system — previously supported by microwave antenna — has been migrated to ConnectArlington and “is operating without a problem,” according to Schwartz.

“This system allows fire, EMS and police to communicate during emergencies and requires the highest reliability standard — that standard is being met by ConnectArlington,” he said.

APS spokespeople say the backup fiber network is eligible for federal E-Rate funds, which assist schools and libraries with obtaining affordable telecommunications and internet access. The Federal Communications Commission explains that the discount a school district receives depends on two factors: “(1) the poverty level of the population the applicant serves and (2) whether the applicant is located in a rural or urban area.”

“The RFP ensures that APS can receive a potential 50 percent reimbursement of [the backup fiber network] costs through the federal government’s E-Rate funds,” Bellavia said.

(more…)

by Katie Pyzyk — December 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Chooser Cruiser unveilingEven though Arlington doesn’t have any large, centrally-located New Year’s Eve celebration — like New York City’s ball drop in Times Square — local police are getting ready for a busier than usual night on Saturday.

Scanner traffic indicates that today officers are stopping at businesses that are holding celebrations tomorrow night. Police are doing preemptive safety checks, asking management about things like how many people each business expects for its celebration and how many employees or additional security staff will be present.

There are no known, specific threats to public safety in Arlington, according to police spokesman Capt. Bruce Benson, but ACPD will have extra officers in the Clarendon area on Saturday evening. Extra officers will also be on duty throughout the county to patrol for drunk drivers.

“We really want everyone to enjoy the New Year celebration in Arlington,” says Benson. “We certainly have some great restaurants and bars and invite everyone to take advantage of them, but we also ask everyone to be responsible and get home safely. There is no excuse to drive drunk.”

Police encourage everyone to pay attention to the message of the half-police cruiser, half-taxi Chooser Cruiser, currently stationed in Clarendon: Take advantage of the many safe options available for post-party transportation or you might find yourself in the back of a police car. Some options include using a designated driver, a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, the free SoberRide taxi program (1-800-200-TAXI), and the free Metrorail and Metrobus rides after midnight Saturday.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 30, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Logo via Arlington CountyArlington County is stepping up its suicide prevention efforts in 2017, including launching a pilot program aimed specifically at youth.

The county’s Dept. of Human Services is enhancing its suicide prevention strategies based on the Zero Suicide initiative. The overall goal is to reduce the number of suicides in the county — there were 41 reported between 2013 an 2015 — to zero and improve care and outcomes for those seeking help.

Over the summer some county staff attended a seminar to learn more about implementing the Zero Suicide methods. They’ve applied the strategies and have been teaching other employees about them so everyone is on the same page in the new year.

After an assessment earlier this year, staff discovered inconsistencies in the suicide prevention knowledge and responses among the different divisions within DHS, says Sharon Lawrence, Children’s Behavioral Healthcare bureau chief.

“We wanted to establish a universal approach to make sure that we’re addressing suicide,” Lawrence says.

Part of the revamped approach is to step up training and to ensure all relevant DHS staff members are comfortable handling suicide-related discussions and situations.

In addition, the Children’s Behavioral Healthcare division is spearheading one of the major Zero Suicide-related programs in the new year: a pilot to assess the treatment model and address youth “suicidality,” both in identifying those at risk and in ongoing treatment of those individuals. As part of the pilot the division is implementing the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, which includes plain-language questions that make it easier for staff to identify young people who are at risk of self-harm and to have more productive follow-up visits.

One reason the department chose to focus on youth for the pilot is that suicide is one of the top three leading causes of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Plus, local survey results released in 2014 indicated that 25 percent of Arlington 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks at a time.

“In the past year-and-a-half we have trained over 300 people in Arlington, including in the schools, to be able to identify when a young person is at risk of harm and may be in distress,” Lawrence says.

Overall, the new methods are “basically a commitment to provide better suicide prevention strategies and tools to DHS staff,” Lawrence says. “Suicide deaths are preventable, that’s the basis of Zero Suicide. The only way to prevent it is by implementing strategies that speak to leadership in terms of the culture you’re setting for staff and the community, [and by] providing training.”

The Department of Human Services’ increased push for suicide prevention also involves asking residents to give feedback via a short online survey about existing services, suicide prevention training and any unaddressed needs.

Lawrence says everyone should speak up if they encounter a person at risk of self-harm, whether it’s a young person or an adult. She suggests thinking of it like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.

“People say ‘I don’t know what to say.’ It’s best to say something so you don’t ever feel like you missed an opportunity [to help],” says Lawrence.

She explains that it’s okay not to directly address a person at risk of self-harm. It’s sometimes better to first talk to someone with knowledge of handling such situations, like a counselor or teacher. But Lawrence reiterates the importance of not staying silent.

“There’s always help. There is help in Arlington County,” she says.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or text 703-940-0888.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 30, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Beyer event graphic

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is inviting the public to join him in an evening of open discussion at an event he has dubbed “The Road Ahead.”

Beyer says many Arlington residents have contacted his office recently to voice concerns and to inquire about working to “bridge the great divisions that exist in our rich and complex country.”

Issues on the agenda for discussion include health care, immigration, climate change, gun safety, civil rights, and America’s role in the world, among others.

The event will take place at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) on Monday, January 16, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. The event is free and those interested in attending may register online.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 30, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Market Common Clarendon decorations

Teardown Business Booming — Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia areas that continue to see significant home teardown rates following the recession. The high land values make it more economical for many builders to tear down old homes and construct new ones rather than renovating existing structures. [Wall Street Journal]

Tech Company Moving to Arlington — Online stock video business VideoBlocks says it is moving from its long-time home in Reston to Arlington in 2017. The tech company’s growth is making the current 7,500-square-foot space too cramped, so the goal is to find an approximately 20,000-square-foot space in Arlington. [DC Inno]

Ninja Moves Prompt Police Call — Police responded to Paisano’s on N. Pershing Drive yesterday afternoon for a report of a man performing “ninja moves” outside the restaurant. There were no reports of anyone being harmed or of any arrests. [Twitter]

Free NYE Metro Rides — Metrorail and Metrobus rides will be free after midnight on New Year’s Eve (Saturday), courtesy of a sponsor: Miller Lite. Metro will stay open until 3:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day (Sunday). [WMATA]

Free Cab Rides Through Sunday — SoberRide will continue its seasonal free taxi service through Sunday. Users can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free ride home, up to a $30 fare.

County Facilities Closed Monday — Like the federal the government, Arlington County will close its facilities on Monday in observance of Sunday’s holiday. Parking meters will not be enforced but trash and recycling collection will continue as usual.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 29, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

An Arlington County police officer received a little holiday cheer from a secret gift giver yesterday.

One of the department’s officers found a gift card and note of gratitude left anonymously on the windshield of an ACPD cruiser.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/814196016933117952

That kind of appreciation isn’t exactly a common occurrence for the ACPD. Typically only the officers working on Christmas receive a little something extra: a meal provided by an employee group.

This holiday season there was, however, another notable demonstration of appreciation when a Brownie troop dropped off festive reindeer-shaped treats last week.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/812010035257581568

No matter how big or small, members of the ACPD are grateful for positive recognition from the public, both during the holidays and throughout the year.

“We appreciate the support we receive from our community,” said police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “We’re often asked how citizens can show their appreciation for our officers. A simple thank you and handshake goes a long way for those working over the holidays.”

by Katie Pyzyk — December 29, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

So many notable people died in 2016 that the losses have contributed to some Twitter users dubbing this the #WorstYearEver. Now the Arlington Public Library has compiled a list of its books, DVDs, and music files that users can borrow to find out what made some of these people stand out from the crowd.

The list is not comprehensive because the library does not own items relating to every single notable person who died this year. It does, however, include items related to 67 well-known authors, performers, activists, scientists, and public figures.

Some of the items on the list are:

  • All You Need Is Ears by George Martin: An autobiography of the record producer and composer best known for his work with The Beatles.
  • "Starman" by Paul TrynkaDavid Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka: The book examines Bowie’s many artistic reinventions and broad influence on the entertainment world.
  • Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovations by Henry J. Heimlich: An autobiography of the thoracic surgeon best known for inventing the technique to stop choking.
  • Arnold Palmer: Memories, Stories, and Memorabilia by Arnold Palmer: An autobiography of the professional golfer who many consider the greatest player in the sport’s history.
  • The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill: The Peabody-Award winning journalist’s continuation of her long-time coverage of America’s race issues.
  • "I'm Your Man" by Leonard CohenI’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen (DVD): The documentary covers Cohen’s life and work and includes interviews with artists he inspired.
  • Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (DVD): The sci-fi film features Carrie Fisher in her iconic role as Princess Leia.
  • Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle: The biography covers the life of the controversial former Toronto mayor known for his drug- and alcohol-fueled antics.
  • 40 Greatest Hits by Merle Haggard (eMusic): The music file includes songs spanning the country legend’s career.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 29, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Police car (file photo)Police are investigating a reported armed robbery that prompted a lot of law enforcement activity in the Cherrydale neighborhood early Wednesday morning.

Arlington County police officers responded to the 1500 block of N. Quincy Street around 12:30 a.m. after two male suspects reportedly approached three victims who had been walking in the area.

One of the suspects brandished a gun and demanded the victims’ belongings, according to police.

Police say the suspects took off on foot so they brought in an ACPD K-9 unit to track them. Fairfax County Police assisted with the search by sending a helicopter.

The suspects were not apprehended and the investigation is ongoing. From an ACPD crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 1500 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 12:25 a.m. on December 28, officers responded to the report of an armed robbery. Three victims were walking in the area when they were approached from behind by two male suspects. One of the suspects brandished a firearm and demanded the victims’ belongings. The suspects then fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction. A K9 track and an aerial observation assisted by Fairfax County Police helicopter were negative. The first suspect is described as a black male approximately 6’0″ tall, wearing all black with a black bandana over his face. The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’5″ tall, with a slim build. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The investigation is ongoing.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 28, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

State General Assembly (via Virginia General Assembly)Arlington County’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly will hold its annual public hearing to discuss with residents the legislative priorities for the new General Assembly session that begins on January 11.

The public hearing will be held on Thursday, January 5, in the Arlington County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd., #300) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Citizens can sign up on the night of the hearing to address the legislators. Each speaker will have up to three minutes.

“The direct participation of an active citizenry helps me represent the 30th District more effectively,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin. “I encourage and welcome all residents… to attend our delegation’s hearings.”

Some of the legislation on the 2017 roster that has been proposed by Arlington representatives includes:

  • Paid family leave, proposed by Sen. Barbara Favola: Under this legislation, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry would develop an implementation plan for a paid family leave program.
  • Reporting lost or stolen firearms, proposed by Sen. Barbara Favola: This bill would require a person who legally possesses a firearm to report its loss or theft to police within 24 hours of discovering that it’s missing.
  • Same-sex marriage, proposed by Sen. Adam Ebbin: This legislation would repeal the parts of Virginia’s constitution banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.
  • Governor’s term of office, proposed by Sen. Adam Ebbin: This legislation would allow Virginia’s governor to serve consecutive terms. Currently, governors cannot run again immediately after serving one four-year term, but they can run again in a future election.
  • Firearm locks, proposed by Sen. Janet Howell: The bill would make it illegal to sell or transfer a handgun to anyone without the person being provided with a locking device for the handgun.
  • No-excuse absentee voting, proposed by Sen. Janet Howell: This would make it acceptable for any registered voter to vote absentee in person without having to provide a reason.
  • Required immunizations, proposed by Del. Patrick Hope: The bill would require children to receive an immunization for meningococcal disease (which causes bacterial meningitis) in order to attend school.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 19, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.

College students fall asleep in class. It’s an age-old issue. But a new solution to the problem is what prompted the launch of Sunniva, an Arlington-based “super coffee” beverage business.

A couple of years ago Jordan DeCicco was that guy who kept falling asleep in his classes at Philadelphia University. The freshman tried to stay awake using the energy drinks or pre-made coffee beverages available at convenience stores, but he didn’t like all the sugar, fat, caffeine, and calories that accompanied the beverages.

He learned about Bulletproof Coffee — a blended mixture of coffee, grass-fed butter, and MCT oil — and found that it definitely gave the energy boost he needed to stay awake through class. He tried making it in his dorm room but that wasn’t really practical for a few reasons. First, making it ahead of time and trying to chill it resulted in the butter going back to its solid form. Second, it was loaded with fat from the butter. Finally, Jordan just wasn’t a fan of the taste.

Sunniva "super coffee" beverageThat’s when he started making his own coffee drink and it seemed to be a winner. So much so that other students took notice and DeCicco began selling the drink out of his dorm room. He felt like he was onto something and enlisted help from older brother Jake, who at the time was in business school at Georgetown University.

“We’re very much accidental entrepreneurs,” Jake says. “We were just tired college students who needed an energy boost.”

Sunniva’s combination of Colombian coffee, coconut oil, and a lactose-free milk protein is a low-fat, low-cal beverage that, according to Jake, offers a longer-term energy boost compared to other products that often provide an energy spike and a crash later. Each bottle has 90mg of caffeine, which is pretty standard for an 8 oz. cup of coffee.

Sunniva is now about a year old and based out of the WeWork space in Crystal City. Oldest brother Jim is now the CEO and joins middle brother Jake in running the business, while youngest brother Jordan has gone back to school after taking a year off following his freshman year.

The business is coming full circle and targeting the very audience from which the original idea sprouted: Sunniva has found a substantial niche market on college campuses. It therefore relies heavily on digital marketing channels that younger audiences use: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and vlogs, to name a few.

“Being started by tired college kids for tired college kids, we really take advantage of this digital age,” Jake says.

The DeCicco brothers, who launched Arlington-based SunnivaThe brothers often are featured in the various social media posts. “We definitely have a personality behind the brand,” Jake says. He laughs as he points out how they often go by “oldest brother, middle brother, and youngest brother” instead of by formal titles like CEO, COO, or founder.

In addition to a growing market on college campuses, Sunniva also has found a home in the cold beverage section of 32 Whole Foods stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as on Amazon.

The product is processed at an aseptic facility in Buffalo, New York. The business tried out different manufacturers and different modes of pasteurization before landing at the current facility. “We had to scale our business appropriately to get there,” Jake says.

Sunniva currently processes about 200,000 bottles per batch. The product now is made in such a way that it doesn’t require refrigeration before opening; it’s shelf-stable for nine months.

Sunniva’s business plan involves further expansion into other Mid-Atlantic and northern East Coast markets up to Boston, with a longer-term goal of becoming a national brand. But the goal for early 2017 is to work on more local market penetration. The brothers want Sunniva to be the “premier bottled coffee in the Washington, D.C. area.”

“Reaching profitability is not a metric we use right now,” Jake says. “Right now we’re really focused on our philosophy of ‘win where you live’ and being hyperlocal.”

by Katie Pyzyk — December 13, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

View of Key Bridge, the Potomac River and D.C. from the Waterview building in Rosslyn

There’s a renewed push for action on the decades-old plan to build a boathouse in the Rosslyn area.

County and federal officials want the public to know that although the project has stopped and restarted several times, it definitely hasn’t been scrapped.

The idea of a boathouse has been supported by the county, by residents (particularly families of high school crew team members) and by developers.

Arlington County has been working on various forms of the boathouse project since the 1990s. It has collaborated with the National Park Service because the county’s shoreline along the Potomac River technically is NPS property.

Map of land acquired for proposed boathouseIn October, the county requested that the Commonwealth of Virginia quitclaim any interest it has in the street that fronts the property at 1101 Lee Highway. The county had purchased the Lee Highway land parcel in 2014 for $2.4 million with the listed intent of using the land for possible boathouse-related purposes.

The county requested the quitclaim because it’s unclear exactly who owns and maintains this small portion of the land along the former Lee Highway right of way. VDOT now has to approve the quitclaim — which has no fiscal impact to either party — and the county believes that should happen by or shortly after the new year.

The county points out that this section of land also is the only service vehicle access point if a boathouse is built. Public parking and drop-offs would be located in a safer area further away from the busy intersection with N. Lynn Street and the I-66 off-ramp.

Any progress on the boathouse plan is theoretical until NPS completes an environmental study — as required by law — showing how such a project would impact the area’s natural and cultural resources.

NPS launched an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2012, with funding secured by former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The study involved getting community feedback on locations for a potential boathouse.

But the EIS was put on hold and NPS is investigating whether it can instead do an environmental assessment, which is a similar but less intensive study that takes less time to produce. The EA would incorporate the information already gathered during the now-stalled EIS.

NPS launched a transportation study last year to determine what impact a boathouse would have on the area’s existing transportation network. The agency has been collaborating with Arlington County and VDOT for that study and in compiling a final report on the transportation impacts.

Proposed locations for Arlington boathouse Although 1101 Lee Highway was intended to be a location for a boathouse facility, that’s actually not set in stone. That parcel of land is called an “upper site” and cannot effectively host a boathouse on its own without a nearby “lower site” near Theodore Roosevelt Island where boats could be stored and launched. If NPS deems another site better suited for a boathouse, Arlington County could use the Lee Highway land for something else.

“In addition, or as an alternative use, the county may put other passive or recreational uses on the parcel,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “We need to wait until a final determination is made by the National Park Service on the parcel, so other uses aren’t actively being pursued.”

A study for another hot project — the Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola — in relatively the same area was released last month, but Baxter says it’s far too early to consider that an option for the land parcel. In fact, she said it’s premature to even comment on the feasibility of a possible gondola project because the study hasn’t even been reviewed or vetted by county staff.

As far as the next steps for moving forward with the boathouse, NPS hopes to announce a decision about the environmental study and its possible transition to an environmental assessment by early 2017.

If the agency announces it is able to go forward with an EA instead of an EIS, it could potentially reveal a preferred boathouse site at that time as well, although the location decision is not required until the final environmental study results are released.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.

Leaf College SavingsThe skyrocketing cost of higher education can make saving and paying for college overwhelming. So you might want to “leaf” the burden to the experts.

Leaf College Savings co-founders Juan Aguilar, Chris Duffus and Josh Bixler set out with the goal of making it easier to save for college. More specifically, they wanted to find an easier way to give the gift of college savings because, as Aguilar says, “it’s a complicated web out there of college savings.”

The collaborators previously had been colleagues at another Arlington business and regrouped a few years after that company sold. Leaf has been around for about three years now and the Rosslyn-based business has nearly 20 employees.

Leaf enables people to purchase an FDIC-insured gift card which transfers money directly into any 529 college savings plan. If the recipient doesn’t have a college savings account, the business will help set one up.

“It’s a gift that says something very special and very specific,” Aguilar says.

Another option Leaf offers is for an employer to allow payroll contributions to go toward a college savings gift, in a similar way to how a 401(k) works.

“That’s the headache we’re solving right now,” says Aguilar. “The gift card is one idea, a payroll deduction… is idea number two.”

Aguilar points out that children are more likely to pursue higher education if they have some savings set aside for it. He says Leaf offers ways to start saving early — for example, by giving one of the gift cards at a baby shower — and all of the contributions will add up over the child’s lifetime.

“We’re not trying to say a gift card will pay for every dime. But we say that every little bit helps and you need to get started somewhere,” he says. “Over time it will grow into something, which is certainly better than not having made a plan or waiting until it’s too late.”

The business continues to evolve and improve based on feedback from customers and research on changes and trends for savings plans. Employees currently are devising a payroll benefits program to help workers pay off their student loans. Leaf is working on the idea with companies interested in using such a benefit as a recruitment and retention incentive.

“The amount of college debt is staggering,” Aguilar says. “Companies love the idea of college savings and helping employees with student loans.”

As a testament to the benefits Leaf provides, Aguilar says he uses the services for his own kids.

“On a personal level, being able to use Leaf myself… it’s good to see the product work and that it really helps people,” he says. “I’m happy that we’re helping people save for college.”

by Katie Pyzyk — November 29, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

Crabb and Johnson's son wearing dress while cycling

Updated at 12:45 p.m. — The Arlington County Human Rights Commission contacted Crabb and Johnson minutes ago about their appeal, informing them that reasonable grounds do exist to support allegations of discrimination based on gender. The written decision notes that the “no long dresses” policy is not specific and there are “at least twenty-seven images” on the daycare’s website of girls wearing dresses, including some of similar lengths to the boy’s dress. The commission notes that the boy is the only child who has been disciplined over the policy and that Crabb and Johnson received no warnings or reminders about their son’s dress length. The commission says evidence indicates the boy was expelled as retaliation for his parents speaking up about their child’s dress being removed. The Arlington County Human Rights Commission’s Executive Director has been authorized to initiate “conciliation efforts” between the parties.

Earlier: An Arlington couple is accusing a local daycare of discrimination, saying their young son was kicked out for wearing a dress.

Kristen Johnson and Robin Crabb say their son had been wearing a dress to his daycare, the Arlington Children’s Center near Rosslyn, for several weeks when trouble suddenly broke out in November 2015. Arlington Children’s Center has not responded to ARLnow’s multiple requests for comment, but Johnson and Crabb shared their recollection of the events.

Johnson says last year she went to pick up her then-three-year-old son from daycare when she noticed he was not wearing his dress — which was in the style of Elsa’s dress in the animated movie “Frozen” — over his pants and shirt, as he had been when he was dropped off that morning. When her son said the dress had been taken off of him, Johnson questioned daycare employees about why that had happened.

At first she thought perhaps her son had gotten the dress dirty and staff therefore had to remove it. But staff told Johnson that the daycare center’s owner saw the boy wearing the dress and instructed staff to take it off.

“A teacher said [the owner] was irate when she saw my son wearing a dress,” Johnson says. “My son was essentially kicked out because he was wearing dress.”

She points out that although the boy had been wearing a shirt and pants under the dress because it was cold outside, the dress reportedly was taken off of him in front of the other children at the daycare.

“I said no one should take my son’s clothes off until they talk to my husband or myself first,” Johnson says.

An employee reportedly returned the dress to Johnson in a plastic bag but did not provide any additional information. Johnson requested to speak with the owner and staff said the owner would call her. Johnson says although she became angry at the lack of answers to her repeated questions about why the dress had been removed, she realized she wasn’t making progress and left the daycare without becoming disruptive.

Johnson says once she got home she called the daycare and spoke with the director. She recalls that the director also did not answer questions about the dress removal and told Johnson she would have to speak with the daycare’s owner. Johnson admits becoming frustrated at that point and hanging up on the director. “It was not my best moment, but I did it,” she says.

Boy wearing dressShe received a call from the owner shortly thereafter. The conversation quickly became “animated,” according to Johnson and her husband, Crabb, who joined the call when Johnson grew agitated. The couple repeatedly asked the owner if she instructed staff to remove the dress just because it was on a boy. The owner repeatedly stated that the center had a policy against long dresses for safety reasons. But Crabb believes the owner’s animated response to the questions indicates otherwise.

“If somebody violates a policy against long dresses, you don’t have an emotional reaction like that. You just say they’re not allowed to,” he says.

After more discussion about the long dress policy, the owner reportedly told the couple not to bring their son to the daycare again or employees would call police. The owner told the couple that the boy was expelled because of Johnson’s interactions with staff after discovering the dress had been removed.

Johnson says the expulsion is unjustified on those grounds because she was not inappropriate or aggressive with anyone, other than hanging up on the one employee. She says parents and staff who witnessed her at the daycare center on the day of the dress removal have attested to her appropriate behavior during the incident.

Children at Arlington Children's CareAlthough the daycare does indeed have a “no long dresses” rule, Crabb and Johnson say, they had never been warned that their son was violating the policy prior to this incident. Additionally, they say that the vague rule does not even state exactly where on a child’s body dresses are allowed to reach or what constitutes a violation.

The boy received the dress as a hand-me-down gift from one of the girls at the daycare. She reportedly had worn the dress at the center on more than one occasion without any repercussions. In fact, the girl was wearing the dress in a photo featured on the daycare’s website (above left).

Crabb and Johnson point out that the dress was longer on the girl than it was on their son; it reached nearly to the girl’s ankles but only mid-calf on the boy (above right). They say other girls also wore dresses longer than their son’s without reprimand, as seen in another photo from the center’s website (below right).

Children at Arlington Children's CenterCrabb and Johnson are certain their son was discriminated against for wearing non-gender conforming clothing and took their case to the Arlington County Human Rights Commission earlier this year. The commission investigated the case but did not rule in Crabb and Johnson’s favor.

A spokesperson for the Arlington County Office of Human Rights told ARLnow that all matters it investigates are confidential and it will not discuss them with anyone except the parties directly involved.

The commission’s ruling in the discrimination case was based on a number of factors, according to its final written report. One factor is that the parents did not inform the daycare that their son might have a “gender identity issue.” The commission also decided the dress in question was not related to his gender identity because it is a “costume dress,” and it cited insufficient evidence that the boy wore dresses outside of daycare.

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