Tucson Earns Impressive Sustainability Rating

Visit Tucson Street Car

Tucson has made huge strides in sustainable initiatives, including the launch of their streetcar this weekend! Image via Visit Tucson.

STAR Communities has awarded the City of Tucson a 4-STAR Community Rating for leadership in sustainability. Tucson is just the fifth city in the country to earn an impressive four out of five stars, reflecting a community-wide commitment to quality of life, prosperity, and equity.

“Tucson is focused on sustainability,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “The reduction in per capita water use, the participation in my 10,000 Trees Campaign, the enthusiasm for solar, rainwater harvesting, and multi-modal options – all this and more reflects Tucsonans’ concern for the environment and quality of life. When a city receives an award, it’s the result of the collective efforts of staff and residents. I’m very proud of this recognition and I trust Tucsonans are, too.”

The STAR Community Ratings System is a framework and certification program for local sustainability. The ratings system encompasses economic, environmental, and social performance measures for local governments and the broader community. Tucson received a perfect score for six of the rating’s objectives: Community Water Systems, Water in the Environment, Natural Resource Protection, Outdoor Air Quality, Industrial Sector Resource Efficiency, and Business Retention & Development. These scores reflect the efforts of Tucson Water to ensure a secure water supply, the community’s strong ethic toward conservation, the region’s emphasis on preserving the natural desert environment, and the City’s continued efforts to support businesses, including the creation of the Office of Economic Initiatives. 

“We applaud Tucson’s ongoing work to make smart decisions that ensure the health, safety, and well-being of current residents and future generations,” said Hilari Varnadore, STAR Communities’ executive director. “The data Tucson submitted made a compelling case that the City is making smart investment decisions to protect scarce resources, grow and retain businesses, and attract a rich diversity of new residents.”

“The STAR rating reflects the sustainability actions and ethic of our entire community,” said City of Tucson Sustainability Manager Leslie Ethen. “Achieving a 4-STAR rating was made possible through the contributions of approximately 150 individuals from different agencies, nonprofits, and business and community groups, who provided information about their organization’s efforts to make Tucson more sustainable.”

When people think about sustainability, they usually think about the environment. It is important to remember that economic sustainability is a key component to a truly sustainable community, and played a large role in this high rating.


Supporting local businesses has been proven to be a sustainable model for economic development and creating vibrant local economies.

Local First Arizona contributed to the efforts of this rating by highlighting our work in supporting a sustainable local economy in Tucson. STAR Communities awarded full credit to Tucson for achieving the following local economy goals: increase the total funds deposited in locally-owned and operated financial institutions over time; conduct an assessment of local economic conditions, including economic leakage and targeted sectors for future investment; promote purchasing preferences for locally-produced goods and services in anchor institutions, including the local government; create or support promotional campaigns to bank locally, buy locally, or buy from small and independent businesses and retailers (that’s us!); provide support services to targeted sectors to strengthen value chain infrastructure and develop market channels; and connect entrepreneurs and business owners with lenders and investors to facilitate investment in the local economy

Congratulations Tucson, you’re doing great things to create and support sustainable communities and local economies in Arizona! To view Tucson’s full report, go to 

Posted in Economics, Sustainability, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Leave a comment

The Hundred-Foot Journey

100 FTLocal Arizona foodies are invited to experience the ultimate bon vivant affair on Monday, July 28 with an advanced screening of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” and a private, Q&A session with executive chef Justin Beckett of Local First Arizona member restaurants Beckett’s Table.

The Hundred-Foot Journey” a heart-warming foodie film starring Helen Mirren and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Richard C. Morais. The movie tells the story Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), an epicurean phenomenon with a passion for flavor, who ventures to France with his family after tragedy strikes their home in India. They settle in a charming village where they open an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai, across the street from a Michelin-starred, classical French restaurant run by the cold Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). The two restaurants’ start a rivalry that escalates into an all-out war, until the day Madam Mallory catches wind of Hassan’s incredible culinary talent and offers to take him under her wing.

Guests can get a first-look at the drama/comedy which will be making its enchanting debut in theaters August 8. Following the movie will be a brief Q&A session with independent restaurateur and Valley chef Justin Beckett, owner and executive chef of acclaimed Beckett’s Table and newly-opened Southern Rail.

The event will be at Harkins Camelview on Monday, July 28, from 7:30-10 p.m.

For more information or to reserve your seat, click here.

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Local Food | Leave a comment

Pizza People Pub is Now a Nearly Zero-Waste Restaurant

Pizza People Pub PizzaLocal businesses are usually the ones setting the trends for their industries, especially in terms of sustainable practices. A prime example of this comes from Local First Arizona and Devour Phoenix member Pizza People Pub, who recently announced that they have become a nearly zero-waste restaurant! Food waste is one of the biggest obstacles to sustainability that the restaurant industry faces, so this is a huge achievement.

“I have grown up in this industry and have always been bothered by the amount of food I have to throw away daily,” said MaryBeth Scanlon, co-owner of Pizza People Pub. “Not only that, but the amount of cardboard and glass that restaurants throw into regular trash is staggering.”

MaryBeth thought that there had to be another way besides the status quo of just throwing everything in the trash bins. She began searching for a solution, and in the midst of her search she was contacted by fellow Local First Arizona member Recycled City, a composting and recycling service. “We chose to collaborate with Recycled City for a couple of different reasons.  First, they make it so easy and affordable! I was also thrilled to hear that their composting process does not require water! It’s a win-win for us desert dwellers.”

MaryBeth is ecstatic to be working with Recycled City to meet her business’ sustainability goals, and goes on to talk about the importance of local business collaboration. “It is important to collaborate with other local businesses because I feel like they ‘get it.’ We are mostly all in the same boat struggling to build something meaningful as well as useful and profitable. My wish is to inspire the restaurant world to take similar action. The effect would be tremendous!”

Thanks MaryBeth and Pizza People Pub for setting the trend for sustainability in the restaurant industry! If you’re interested in going green at your business or home, consider contacting Recycled City to see what your options are!

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Restaurants & Dining | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Local First Gets More Productive!

This year, the LFA office had the incredible privilege to work one-on-one with Margo Brown of Wave Productivity Consulting to increase our workplace productivity and to grow our output as an organization. Little did we know this coaching experience would go far beyond workplace productivity to also decrease stress levels and improve quality of life!

Whether it was a clever new method of categorizing and prioritizing tasks…
…breaking down big ideas with project mapping…
…or helping us to both complete our work and make sure we’re still getting the most out of life….

This was an invaluable experience that helped us to fundamentally change our approach to setting and meeting goals.


Margo takes a facilitative and approach to building self-discovery: simply asking questions, introducing new ideas and concepts and ultimately leading us to re-evaluate and re-formulate the way we get things done. The results were incredible, and Margo was a pleasure to work with. And at the end, the team has unanimously agreed that this was one of the most valuable personal growth and development experiences in our lives.

Here’s a little bit more on what we had to say about working with Wave Productivity:


“Meeting with Margo was probably the most productive thing I have have done for my professional (and personal!) life. She helped me to analyze everything I was doing to manage all of my projects, emails, calls, documents, to-do lists, calendars and ideas in a way that was patient, observant and non-judgmental. It was great to have someone guide me on setting goals according to my vision of success and  help me create an outline on how I wanted to improve; she really put me at ease about the whole process. Each session with her made me feel lighter and less anxious about things falling through the cracks.
In the beginning, I was very apprehensive about opening up the chaos of my to-do list to her, but once we set expectations and started going through everything bit by bit, all apprehensiveness vanished. She asked insightful questions that made me come around to my own answers and her suggestions made immediate improvements.  I was shocked at how simple organizational change could be, and it didn’t hurt a bit! I continue to use her suggestions everyday and I would highly recommend her services to anyone in need of even the tiniest bit of organizational clarity and sanity. You’ll look forward to meeting with Margo!”


steve-russell (1)STEVE
Working with Margo was a real game changer for me. Productivity is one of those things that you will never improve on without really investing in it—and who takes the time to read up on the latest strategies for email management and task prioritization? Well, Margo does! And I truly believe this was one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my professional development.
We worked out all the barriers to productivity I was experiencing, we identified organization systems that worked for ME and my needs, and then we developed new tools and routines to help me complete my work with greater focus and efficiency. I have been practicing Margo’s innovative strategies for a while now, and not only can I see a huge change in my work outcomes, I am also able to feel a sense of relief, because I know I’m meeting my deadlines and I’m producing generally higher-quality work.”


“Productivity strategies aren’t something that I have talked about with other people in the past, so this was a whole new experience for me. I’m glad I did it though, and it was great to have someone to talk to and really hash out what was working for me and what wasn’t. Margo helped me understand where my strong points are and address where I face challenges and how to best confront those challenges. She thought to ask all the right questions to really pinpoint the right things, all while focusing on making sure that I was happy with the decisions we were making. If you’re facing difficulties with organization or getting tasks done, I highly recommend at least one session with Margo, she’ll change your life!”


“Never having worked with a productivity coach before, I was unsure how much I would get out of these sessions. But after our very first meeting, I knew this was going to be a valuable experience. Margo helped find tips that work for me and taught me practical ways to approach my workload.  I now have a clear picture of how to get things done and feel much less overwhelmed. I’d highly recommend productivity sessions with Margo!”


“Prior to working with Margo, I had a broken organizational system and often felt overwhelmed by projects and tasks. I knew my methods had to change, but was unable to find the right solutions.
Working with Margo is great! Through her coaching, it is you who are finding the solutions, rather than having the answer given to you. This guiding has enabled me to retain an organizational system that works with my learning strategy. She goes beyond the day-to-day issues at work and takes a more holistic approach, ensuring your strategy remains in place. I am now able to schedule my day, prioritize to get more done, and am more productive without feeling overwhelmed. It’s a change I thought was never going to happen!”

You can find Margo Brown online at www.waveprodutivity.com. For a sample of her services, don’t miss our July Business Seminar: “Life Outside of the Inbox: Techniques and Tools for Email Management” on July 29th, 6:00 PM at the Copper Point Mutual 8W Auditorium. 

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City of Phoenix Aviation Department Providing Free Retail Business Opportunities Workshop Series


A blackboard outside of Terminal 4′s Sauce shows what’s on the menu.

We loved it when Phoenix Sky Harbor went local with their restaurants, and now they are seeking to include more local retail options!

In an effort to expand economic opportunities and create jobs, a series of free business workshops have been developed to provide information to businesses interested in retail contracting opportunities at the Phoenix (PHX) Sky Harbor International Airport’s Terminal 4 (T4) which is home to 80% of Phoenix’s traveling public. The workshops will provide information about the T4 Retail program, address unique opportunities for small businesses, and afford extensive networking opportunities for attendees. Delivered by City of Phoenix staff, these workshops are open to any firm interested pursuing retail and goods and services opportunities on the PHX Terminal 4 Retail Concessions Program.

We applaud the City of Phoenix’s efforts to include more independent retail options at Phoenix Sky Harbor! Please see below for further information on the workshop: 

Certification 101: What is Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) Certification and Why Should You Apply?

Attendees will receive an overview of AC/DBE program at PHX and gain valuable information on ACDBE Entrepreneurship: What is an ACDBE Certification (versus S/DBE) and its benefits?; Are You Eligible to Apply?; and How to Get CERTIFIED!

Workshops are open to any firm interested in pursuing retail and goods and services opportunities, on the PHX Terminal 4 Retail Concessions Program. Note: No food or beverage concession opportunities are available at this time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Doors open at 3:00 pm)
Terminal 3, 3400 E. Sky Harbor Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85034 (West end of T3 on Level 3. Elevator is next to Sbarros on Level 2)

Advance Registration Required – Seating is limited.

To accommodate all interested participants, only two (2) representatives per company will be admitted. Please register by Friday, August 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

Workshops are free and open to the public. Attendees should register at the Eventbrite page by clicking here. For more information, please contact Jane McNamara at 602-683-2679. 

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement | Leave a comment

How Local Restaurants Can Determine the Fate of Cities and Neighborhoods

agustin kitchen tableWe love local restaurants for plenty of reasons, but now we have one more to add to the pile.

According to a new study, when researchers asked city residents “what aspects of urban life enchanted them, food kept popping up in their responses. Eighty-two percent of urbanites appreciate their city’s culinary offerings!”

As CityLab reports: “Restaurants are the leading force behind reclaimed waterfronts and regenerating neighborhoods, and are a key component of mixed-use development and urban retail. When a part of the city puts itself on the map, it’s often because of a wave of trendy eateries have opened there.”

We are definitely seeing this trend across the Phoenix Metro and and in Tucson. As restaurants continue to open in the city centers, they contribute to urban infill, bring residents and visitors downtown, and have truly transformed Arizona into a foodie destination. We’re even seeing it in more rural areas such as Flagstaff and Cottonwood, where the restaurant scenes continue to be a driving force of tourism to those areas.

Local restaurants not only offer a boost to the local economy, but also contribute to a city or neighborhood’s “sense of place.” These independent restaurants offer a unique character to an area, and this leads to residents being proud of their neighborhood and happy to live there. In a article from earlier this year in The Arizona Republic titled “West Valley’s independent restaurants, pubs can offer sense of place,” residents of the area have a special attachment to local restaurants and pubs in the area. “This always feels like home,” was a response from one resident talking about a local pub he’s been visiting since the 1990s.

Next time you’re dining out, remember to think local and thank your favorite local restaurant for all that they contribute to your local community!

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Find your new favorite today!

Posted in Restaurants & Dining | Leave a comment

Terroir Seeds launches New School Fundraising Program

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations.” Cindy and Stephen Scott, Terroir Seeds

TerroirSeedsLogoThe Chino Valley based seed company, Terroir Seeds, is a true treasure for Arizona, and the rest of the nation. Cindy and Stephen Scott own and operate their business with a focus on providing the highest quality seed, the best personal service, and making a positive impact in the community. Heirloom seeds and vegetables are being re-discovered as container, raised bed, and backyard gardens are being planted more than ever. Flavor, growing your own food and knowing where your food comes from are some of the biggest reasons for the growth of these gardens, farmer’s markets and CSA’s.

Cindy and Stephen are continuing their community impact with a new program, starting this summer. Schools and organizations are constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to raise money. Terroir Seeds’ new program provides a way for schools and organizations to raise money and educate students, parents and the public. The Grow With Us—A Seed Fundraising Program benefits schools, students and the gardening public. It’s a win win and the program can be implemented anywhere and by any organization looking for a fun, creative, educational, and HEALTHY way to raise money.

Grow-With-Us-FundraisingSimilar to a typical fundraising program, Grow With Us offers organizations to sell a product and receive a profit share at the end of the sales program. Organizations or schools receive 50% of what is sold, and there are a variety of seed packages offered. Each package sells for $10 each and vary from a sunflower garden package (which includes a variety of sunflowers for beautification and seed harvesting, to a pizza garden (which includes herbs and vegetables for pizza), to a fresh salad garden and even a package of seeds that are just fun to grow. You can check out the full details of the program packet here, and see how the seed packages vary and how the program works.

But unlike most typical fundraising programs, selling heirloom seeds does so much more for the community. Selling seeds, and becoming familiar with the seed package offerings, can stimulate students’ interest in gardening, health, nutrition, soil education and plant diversity. The program could turn several of these young students in Arizona, and beyond, into Locavores, because how food is grown, prepared and harvested all starts with a seed. 

Handful-of-seedTerroirThanks for establishing such a unique program, Cindy and Stephen! We look forward to growing with you and hope that some of our organizations will take you up on this fun opportunity to raise funds for their causes! For more information, contact Cindy or Stephen at (888) 878-5247 or visit www.underwoodgardens.com

Posted in Agriculture, Excellence in Localism, Local Business Tips, Local First Movement, Local Food, Northern Arizona, Press Releases, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

July Evening Mixer Recap: Arizona Sunrays

Arizona Sunrays 1

This month, Arizona Sunrays (a proud Sustaining Member of LFA), hosted our July Mixer at their primary gymnastics facility in North Phoenix. We began the evening with a Membership 101 Session, which is a free crash-course overview of Local First Arizona benefits. Whether you’ve just joined or have been a member for years, these monthly sessions offer great insights about becoming more involved with Local First Arizona and the local movement. We hold these before every Phoenix Evening Mixer & also online. Click here to register for the next one!


The team at Arizona Sunrays did a great job going local for the nosh with delicious bites from 32 Shea and amazing pastries from Karl’s Bakery. Roping off a special area for our members smack dab in the middle of all the action in the gym, guests were treated to an exhibition from competitive and award-winning gymnasts-showing us their skills on the high bars and the exercise floor. We had the pleasure of meeting many members of the Arizona Sunrays staff, many of whom have worked there for several years. In one of the most unique venues we have held a mixer, we had a great time getting to know a variety of both new and seasoned members.


A very special thank you goes out to Terri and the entire staff at Arizona Sunrays who not only were great hosts, but huge supporters of Local First Arizona and the local movement as a whole! To learn more about Arizona Sunrays, visit their website by clicking here.

Missed this one? Join us for the next Phoenix Evening Mixer at Allstate Appliances, click here to RSVP!

Thank you to all members in attendance:

About Blind Cleaning
Arizona Pavers
Arizona State Parks Foundation
Arizona Trade Exchange
AZ Social Media Wiz
Bezt Impressions
Carter Law Firm
Commerce Bank of Arizona
Gravity Web+Design
Green Living Magazine
LocalWork.com -Sustaining Member
Matek Media
Native Sun Images
OnSite Oil Change
Payroll Control Systems
R&S Insurance
RJD Creative
Sage Payment Solutions
Studio ADT
Support My Club

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement | Leave a comment

2nd Class to Graduate from Fuerza Local Accelerator Program

We are excited to graduate our second class from the Fuerza Local Accelerator Program!

Fuerza Local Accelerator Program

Local First Arizona was the first local business organization in the country to implement a Spanish language initiative, an accelerator program which works to encourage low-income Latinos to think entrepreneurially to create a pathway to prosperity for themselves and their families. We are incredibly proud of our second class of entrepreneurs and are excited to see what they will contribute to our economy and community. We hope that you can join us for the celebration:

Fuerza July2014-English

We hope that you can join us! Click here to read about the first graduating class earlier this year. Learn more about Fuerza Local by clicking here.

Posted in Fuerza Local, Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement | Leave a comment

Feeling Eclectic

This Local First Arizona member spotlight is on Purple Lizard Boutique:

purple lizard boutiqueMake a fashion statement all while staying cool during these summer monsoon months. The Purple Lizard Boutique, located near Encanto Park, is filled to the brim with a unique mix of clothes, hand crafted jewelry, shoes, hats, scarves and more. Owner Marguerite Tram’s personally selected and diverse collection of linen and breathable dresses, comfortable shoes, cute purses, and Mexican-inspired gifts and wares are some of the best in town. This funky boutique is definitely the go-to-place for Mexican art including Santos, woven linens, Mexican oilcloth bags, nichos, candles, and Dia de los Muertos and other rare treasures. With its large collection of handmade and local artists’ work, this is just the place to swing by when you’re on the hunt for the perfect southwestern-inspired gift or looking for an outfit that is summer-in-the desert approved from hard-to-find brands like CP Shades, Flax, and Krista Larson.

Click here to find out more about Purple Lizard Boutique. You can click here to read past member spotlights. You can also search our local business directory to find 2,500 local businesses across Arizona. 

Posted in Greater Phoenix, LFA Member Spotlight | Leave a comment