World Gym Now ‘Exercise Nation’ — The poorly-reviewed World Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive has changed hands and is now “Exercise Nation,” a small low-cost gym chain with existing locations near Baltimore. Memberships start at $10/month. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Ramps Up Anti-Harassment Campaign — This month Metro began tracking all forms of sexual harassment, one additional step in the agency’s ongoing anti-harassment campaign. [Greater Greater Washington]
Four Mile Run Watershed Cleanup — Arlington County is organizing a watershed cleanup for Four Mile Run on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will be asked to help clean up at one of several sites along Four Mile Run, Arlington’s largest watershed. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Forum to Feature Streetcar Supporters, Opponents — On April 10, the Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a forum about the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar. A streetcar supporter, Arlington Chamber of Commerce chairman David DeCamp, will face off against a streetcar opponent, “Peter’s Take” columnist and former Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Peter Rousselot. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Rosslyn Outdoor Movies Start Tonight — The season of weekly, political-themed outdoor movies in Rosslyn starts tonight with the 1999 Matthew Broderick/Reese Witherspoon flick “Election.” The movie is scheduled to start at dusk.
Anti-Harassment Ads at Metro Stations — WMATA has placed anti-sexual harassment public service announcements in 28 Metro stations. In Arlington, the ads can be found in the Ballston and Clarendon Metro stations. [Stop Street Harassment]
Opening of Refurbished Affordable Apartments — Community members, local elected officials and affordable housing advocates gathered Wednesday to celebrate the preservation and renovation of Buckingham Village 3 — now renamed “Buckingham Gardens” — as committed affordable rental housing. Ninety-two apartments have been renovated and a new community center has been built as part of the project. [Arlington Mercury]
Margot MacDonald to Play Encore -- Arlington’s own singer/songwriter Margot MacDonald will be performing at Encore Stage, a local youth-oriented theater. The performance will take place this Saturday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre (125 S. Old Glebe Road). “Join us for an evening of Margot’s own eclectic rock and favorite covers,” Encore says on its website. “Recommended for ages 10 and up.” [Encore Stage & Studio]
“This purpose of this outreach is to let people know that it’s not okay to sexually harass people on Metro,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles on WMATA’s website. “We are encouraging anyone who may be harassed to report the incident to Metro Transit Police.”
Phase one included this week’s launch of an online reporting system. Victims have the option of remaining anonymous, but all reports will be sent directly to Metro Transit Police. An email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, has also been set up to allow customers to send photos or video to assist in an investigation.
According to the website, reportable behavior includes “extended leering, sexual comments, indecent exposure, stalking and groping.” Even if an incident doesn’t seem like a crime, victims are asked to still report what happened so Metro can spot trends and try to prevent future crimes from occurring. Right now, WMATA does not track such statistics.
“Prior to this initiative, we were not collecting data on reported harassment that did not rise to the level of a crime,” said WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel. “Over the next few months, we will track the data, develop a baseline for future comparisons, and report statistics publicly on a quarterly basis.”
A number of Arlington incidents of harassment on Metro have been made public over the last couple of years. An apparent repeat offender at the Courthouse station was reported to police by at least one woman whom he grabbed after taking a cell phone photo up her skirt. Another apparent repeat offender has been reported at the Pentagon stop in posts on the advocacy website Collective Action for Safe Spaces.
“The changes that Metro is making to address public sexual harassment and assault is a testament to the hundreds of stories we received on our site,” Collective Action for Safe Spaces Co-founder Chai Shenoy said on WMATA’s website. “We see this partnership as a step in the right direction and a model for other transit agencies around the world to follow.”
As part of the anti-harassment initiative, soon customers will see posters for the campaign displayed on buses and in train stations. Materials will be handed out throughout the system. Metro is also working on enhancing training for its employees on the front lines.
The woman’s story was published on the Hollaback DC blog, which chronicles gender-based harassment in the Washington area. The woman said the driver’s suggestive comments about her height made her feel “paralyzed.”
“I was so mad, so pissed, I nearly cried,” she wrote.
The alleged incident took place during the evening rush hour on the 10B bus, which travels from Hunting Towers in Alexandria to the Ballston Metro station, via Shirlington and Buckingham.
Metro riders can submit complaints about employee conduct here.
He is apparently known to Metro employees as “the guy who stands at the bottom of the escalators every morning looking up girls’ skirts.” And Erica Walters, the local blogger behind Books Are My Boyfriend, says she had an up-close, personal and very disturbing encounter with this creepy dude at the Courthouse Metro station this week.
Erica writes that she was going up the escalator at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday when the man suddenly took a photo up her skirt with a cell phone camera, grabbed her and walked away.
To make matters worse, as tears were streaming down her face she asked a “nicely dressed older woman” for help. The woman’s reaction? To shake her head and keep on walking.
Erica goes on to say that she spotted the man on the Courthouse escalators again on Thursday. This time, she had the presence of mind to turn the lens on him. She snapped her own cell phone camera photo, then filed a report with Arlington police (who she says have been “immensely helpful”).
She also talked to a Metro employee, who said she recognized the man in the photo as someone who has a track record of sexual harassment in the station (see the quote above). It’s not clear whether anybody at Metro has ever tried to do anything about it.
Photo via Flickr. No association with the story is implied.