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by Brooke Giles June 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm 0

Sociopolitical comedian W. Kamau Bell is coming to the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse for the first time this Friday.

The host of the CNN show “United Shades of America” is known for exploring tough subjects. In two seasons of “United Shades, Bell has spent time with members of the Ku Klux Klan and has sat down with Alexandria-based white supremacist Richard Spencer. The show was nominated for a Primetime Emmy award in 2016.

But although he’s been outspoken about his support of social causes, Bell says his comedy act is not about political affiliation.

“I feel the need to make the jokes about the people who I feel need to have jokes made about them, it could be the left, it could be the right, could be somewhere in between,” he said.

The comedian believes that too many of America’s issues have been politicized even though those issues exist no matter where someone is from. By poking fun at both sides, he believes he helps erases some of the social divides.

“We think of the north and the south and the west and the Midwest, but every town, every city, every part of this country, there are different things going on,” Bell said. He thinks that once people stop focusing on what makes us different, “we’d realize that we all want more money from our job, we all want better schools for our kids.”

In an especially polarized political climate, Bell thinks that his show can be a place for people to unwind. He says his visits to places with histories of racism often turn out to be the best shows, because the audience members need the break more than anyone else.

The author of the book “The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian,” released early this month, wants people to leave his show willing to engage with those with different perspectives.

“We are not as strong in our communities as we think we are, we need to get to know our neighbors,” Bell said. “We need to get to know the people two streets over, we need to get to know people outside of neighborhoods.”

And although it can be uncomfortable, he believes it’s an important learning experience.

“Awkward can often lead to a better place, a smarter place and a more joyful and more informed place,” Bell said. “That’s what I’m encouraging people to do, lean into the awkward.”

Bell will perform two shows at the Drafthouse on Friday, an early show at 7:30 p.m. that is now sold out and a late show at 10 p.m. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $63 for general admission and a book.

Courtesy photos

by Brooke Giles June 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools parents and teachers remain divided over the county’s one-to-one technology initiative ahead of possible revisions to the school system’s strategic plan later this year.

The rollout of the program began during the 2014-2015 school year and provides iPads for elementary and middle school students, Macbook Air laptops for high school students. The hope was that every student attending an Arlington school would have a device by 2017.

Prior to the program teachers had to check out laptops for assignments that were based online, or reserve computer lab space. In some cases, students had to pair up to complete assignments.

One middle school parent said that although her children have access to technology at home, the program is the county’s “best option” for those who don’t — helping to level the playing field for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Attended by parents and teachers, the conversation was focused on how the technology is impacting the classroom. The main concerns for many parents were how teachers could balance the use of the technology with traditional learning and how parents could monitor how their child is using their device.

Jennifer Burgin, a second grade teacher at Oakridge Elementary School, shared how her students used their iPads to identify real deer teeth samples. When the assignment was over, the devices were replaced with pencil and paper. 

“iPads are not meant to replace me, instead they help unleash me,” said Burgin. “As I learn more about deeper learning practices and ensuring equity for all my learners, I use iPads to my advantage when they benefit all learners.”

Several middle school teachers said that the technology makes their students more interested in learning, allowing them to research additional information or record and re-watch their teacher explaining challenging concepts.

Some parents, however, wanted to know what is being done to protect children from the dangers of the internet, with some saying there needs to be a county-wide policy on the use of the devices.

While there are schools that have blocked apps and have teachers conducting spot checks on student devices, parents said that there are still students who get in trouble for breaking the classroom guidelines. One anonymous parent alleged there is a culture of students using their iPads for inappropriate content. 

“I can tell you that if a child is reported to have inappropriate content, their iPad is checked and if the content is there, the iPad is taken away from the child,” she said. “But that is a Band-Aid on instance on a much wider systemic problem.”

The one group that was absent from the meeting were parents of high schoolers. The older students got laptops instead of tablets because of their heavier course load and lengthier assignments.

“[Now] that students have laptops — which they have by and large learned to bring to class, charged, every day — [it] has facilitated a sea-change in how I deliver instruction,” said Doug Burns, an English teacher at Wakefield High School. He said that an effective lesson plan helps keep students from misusing their devices.

Some suggestions for a more cohesive program included a training program for both teachers and parents, and placing more restrictions on the devices.

“If they would have thought about curriculum, investigated helpful apps, locked down the iPads to only those apps, not provide Safari, and train the teachers prior to rollout, the iPad initiative could have been much more successful,” said one parent.

APS is set to revisit its strategic plan for the devices later this year.

by Chris Teale June 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington County just announced that it has joined other counties, cities, businesses and colleges in signing an open letter pledging to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

President Trump announced last week he will withdraw the United States from the pact to help preserve American jobs and avoid placing heavy burdens on the country’s taxpayers. The decision brought swift condemnation from local elected officials.

County leaders joined on Monday (June 5) an open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement entitled, “We Are Still In.” The letter promises that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will continue, regardless of federal policy.

“Arlington stands with communities across our nation and around the globe who recognize that climate change is real and that we must, both on the local and on the global level, meet its adverse effects with strong, effective action,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “Just as we joined the Compact of Mayors in 2015 and agreed to set goals for reductions in greenhouse gases, so do we join the effort today of local communities that are pledging to uphold the Paris Agreement, even if the federal government does not.”

The District of Columbia has also signed on to the pact and Virginia joined a similar state effort this week.

In light of President Trump’s decision, the County Board will consider a resolution at its June 17 meeting reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change.

In a press release, the county touted its efforts already in the fight against climate change:

Arlington County adopted a forward-thinking Community Energy Plan (CEP) in June 2013, as an element of our Comprehensive Plan. The award-winning plan is a long-term vision for transforming how Arlington generates, uses and distributes energy. Its goal-setting and methods of achievement are consistent with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda and the Paris Accord. Arlington’s CEP aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2050, and greenhouse gas emissions already have fallen 18 percent in Arlington between 2007 and 2015.

In 2015, Arlington signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Energy and Climate, sponsored by the Compact of Mayors – open to any city or town in the world willing to meet a series of requirements culminating in the creation of a full climate action and adaptation plan.

In 2012, Arlington exceeded our goal of reducing government-wide energy usage by 10 percent, using the year 2000 as a baseline. Currently, we’re competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge to reduce municipal building energy usage by 20 percent by 2020.

Our Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps our community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. County government buys more than 30 percent of its electricity as certified green power and buys carbon offsets against 100 percent of its natural gas use. Arlington is home to Discovery Elementary, the largest “net zero energy” elementary school east of the Mississippi River.

At its meeting in June, the County Board will consider a resolution reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change and to the goals of our Community Energy Plan.

Arlington will continue to work to make our County more prosperous, healthful, safe and secure through its efforts to rethink energy and protect the environment.

For more information about Arlington’s environmental initiatives and efforts to reduce energy usage and energy costs, visit the County website.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 7, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm that specializes in residential real estate, commercial real estate and homeowner associations. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Good office space isn’t hard to find, if you know what to look for. The D.C. real estate market is extremely competitive, which puts tenants at an advantage because landlords will be more willing to work with you to meet your needs.

Check out the following factors to consider when looking to rent office space in the D.C. area.

Lease Terms

Unlike residential leases, commercial tenants are allowed to work with landlords to come up with a lease structure that works for them. If you’re looking to open a retail business, you may want to do some renovation, so it’s critical to have a lease that allows you to do that. Be aware of the different types of commercial leases and have a lawyer review the lease with you before signing.

Accessibility

D.C. has some of the worst traffic in the country. Is your space in a heavily congested area? If so, is it Metro accessible? If customers and employees cannot easily get to your location, you’ll find yourself in an empty office. It may be worth the higher rent to find an office space that is convenient to the Metro and offers off-street parking.

Urban vs. Suburban

Your business will likely work in both urban and suburban areas, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Urban areas have more foot traffic and higher-income clientele, but rents are way more expensive than the suburbs.

Foot Traffic

Retail businesses will want a substantial amount of passersby in order to attract as many customers as possible. If considering space in a shopping center, check out the anchor stores and ask other tenants how much business they do just from people walking by.

Convenience

Is your office easy to find? What about amenities? Many mixed use office-spaces include little extras that attract employees such as on-site daycare, restaurants and even dry cleaners. Choose a space that is convenient for yourself and employees.

Walkability

While the city is extremely walkable, there are some suburban areas that are not. This may not be an important factor for your business but if it is, take into account the lay of the land and make sure that it is safe for people traveling by foot.

With the amount of choices available, finding an office space can be overwhelming. If you’re unsure of what’s best for your business, contact the commercial property experts at Gordon James Realty. We’d be happy to help.

by ARLnow.com June 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

(Updated at 1:30 p.m) The space vacated by Applebee’s in Ballston less than three weeks ago will not be empty for long.

The restaurant at 900 N. Glebe Road closed on May 27. Applebee’s closing followed the closure of the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille in the same space in April 2016.

Despite the challenges of filling the large restaurant space on the western side of Glebe Road with customers, a new eatery called Bistro 1521 is set to move in soon.

Solita Wakefield, a partner in the business and the restaurant’s general manager, said that Bistro 1521 will serve traditional Filipino cuisine like lumpia, adobo and pancit (noodles), plus fusion dishes mechado with a Spanish flair.

Wakefield was previously a co-owner of Bistro 7107, a Filipino restaurant on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, which recently closed, according to Yelp. There are no other large sit-down Filipino restaurants in Arlington, Wakefield said, and only a handful elsewhere in the D.C. area. She expects to win over both Filipino customers — including those who work at the Philippines embassy — as well as those new to the cuisine.

Bistro 1521 is located in the same building as Stageplate Bistro, on the first floor of the the Virginia Tech Research Center. It occupies a large restaurant space, with seating capacity for 220 inside and 60 on the outside patio.

“It’s going to be grand,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield plans to keep the interior of the former Applebee’s largely unchanged, with the addition of some Filipino paintings and other decorations. She also plans to keep Applebee’s regularly-scheduled events, like cornhole, trivia night and painting night.

Wakefield is hoping that the business permits are approved in time for the restaurant to open in July.

Hat tip to Todd B.

by ARLnow.com June 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Noodle, a dog that emmigrated all the way from Korea.

Here is what her owner, Sunnie, had to say about her:

Noodle is probably Arlington’s most well-traveled pup!

We picked Noodle up from Dulles airport when she was just 6 months old after a 16 hour flight from Korea. Noodle was rescued by an amazing group called Hope for Donghae Paws. The group rescues dogs from rural Korea, many of whom come from the meat trade market, abusive situations and overall neglect.

Noodle has come a long way since her dog travel days and has warmed up to living in the States quickly!

Noodle loves her dog friends above all else; you can find her romping around the backyard of Potomac Towers with her friends, getting covered in sand at the Clarendon Dog Park or kickin’ at doggy daycare.

In addition, she enjoys loungin’ on the couch, throwing socks around, sleeping like a human and overall just being a happy pup! She also recently played a critical role in asking her mom to marry her dad! Although she looks mildly upset, we think she was just exhausted from keeping the secret for so long!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care is the winner of six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.

Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.

by ARLnow.com June 7, 2017 at 11:05 am 0

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) An office in Rosslyn received a bomb threat last week, but no explosives were found.

The incident happened Wednesday morning on the 1100 block of Wilson Blvd. There are two office buildings on that block, though police did not specify which one was affected. The business that received the threat was education-related, we’re told.

Police say the bomb threat was received via a letter, which was found by an employee. No threats were found during a K-9 sweep of the building.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

BOMB THREAT, 2017-05310114, 1100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 10:36 AM on May 31, police responded to the report of a bomb threat. The investigation determined that an employee discovered a letter alleging there was an explosive device inside the building. A K-9 sweep of the building was conducted with negative results. There is no suspect(s) description.

The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale June 7, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Members of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group sought to regroup Tuesday night and try to plot a new path forward on the future of the Shirlington Dog Park.

But the need to balance the park needing to manage stormwater while preserving a beloved community asset weighed heavily after a strong backlash against reducing its size.

That community anxiety about the park’s future helped result in the County Board directing staff late last month to go back to the drawing board. Plans drawn up by staff would have shrunk the 109,000 square foot park to as little as 27,000 square feet to accommodate stormwater management.

During their work session, Board members said there must be a better balance between environmental needs and community desires. But some working group members felt the environment was forced to take a back seat.

“I felt extremely distressed with the comments and presentation because it didn’t deal with the environment,” said group member Nora Palmatier.

Several group members also criticized staff for not presenting more options to deal with stormwater beyond a 35-foot buffer near the stream. And while at-large member Keith Fred said it was a “shame” there hadn’t been more conversations about environmental protection at the site a year ago, others said it was an opportunity to put forward new plans.

“We have been challenged as a group and staff as well to think outside the box and look at other alternatives to protect what is a very important economic driver for the Valley,” said group member Adam Henderson.

And Edie Wilson, a member of the working group representing the Shirlington Civic Association, said that despite the community’s strong opposition to any changes at the park, residents care about balancing it with any environmental needs.

Wilson said it is possible to “walk and chew gum at the same time,” and that with staff putting new options forward, she looks forward to seeing what can be done.

“We need to be very careful with the assumption that we don’t care about the environment,” she said. “We have a variety of ways to do both. There’s work to do.”

Later in the meeting, Wilson said more must be done to educate the community about what is being done in the area, and particularly to show them why changes may need to be made to the dog park.

“We really need some public education, and I mean public education in the most civil sense of the word,” she said. “People have a lot of questions.”

County staff said they will meet with County Manager Mark Schwartz later this week to chart a path forward for the park and other projects in the Four Mile Run Valley. No public speakers at the meeting addressed the dog park’s future.

by ARLnow.com June 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Though a bit of a roller coaster, it’s been a cooler spring than we’re used to in the D.C. area. It’s June and the high temperature today isn’t even supposed to break 70.

Good news for those who like it hot: A heat wave is on the way next week. And the first official day of summer is around the corner, on June 21.

What do you think of the relatively mild weather so far this year?

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 7, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

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Each week, “Just Reduced” spotlights properties in Arlington County whose price have been cut over the previous week. The market summary is crafted by licensed broker Aaron Seekford of Arlington Realty, Inc. GET MORE out of your real estate investment with Aaron and his team by visiting www.arlingtonrealtyinc.com or calling 703-836-6116 today!

Please note: While Aaron Seekford provides this information for the community, he is not the listing agent of these homes.

This week we’ve identified our biggest Just Reduced property to date!

A home in Arlington County was reduced a whopping $500K this past week. Sure, it’s still a $6.5 million unit, but it endured a 14 percent price reduction. That’s a pretty big price cut in the real estate world.

We like to keep it real here at Just Reduced… and totally realize that a $6.5 million unit is not in everyone’s budget. But, there are still some great catches out there with major savings, whether your budget is in the millions, hundreds of thousands… or you’re looking for a stellar rental in one of our beautiful neighborhoods.

So, let’s get started on your home search. I promise to help you GET MORE out of your transaction, no matter the budget.

As of June 5 there are 242 detached homes, 62 townhouses and 266 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 48 homes experienced a price reduction in the past week.

Here is this week’s selection of Just Reduced properties:

Please note that this is solely a selection of Just Reduced properties available in Arlington County. For a complete list of properties within your target budget and specifications, contact Aaron Seekford.

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