Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
Building community can be one of the most challenging and rewarding actions that a group of people can undertake. For the last 15 years of my life as a resident of Arlington, I have made a conscious decision to take part in that challenging process.
When I moved to Arlington in 2004, I admit that I did not deliberately choose Arlington. My real estate agent found a condo in the Arlington Mill (formerly known as Columbia Heights West) community that was in my price range. I was promised that this neighborhood would soon see changes under the Columbia Pike revitalization plan, and I assumed that I would move to a larger property in the near future.
Over the years the neighborhood has grown substantially. Do you remember the Safeway where the Arlington Mill Community Center used to be, and the Arlington Mill Community Center that was there before the renovated center?
Initially, Arlington was just a place I laid my head down at night. I attended my first Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) meeting around 2006, where I was welcomed, but wondered why there weren’t more minorities in attendance. I managed a local campaign in 2007 and the work I did on that campaign – from canvassing in North Arlington, to meeting supporters at events and getting to know the people of the Democratic Committee, helped me feel more a part of Arlington.
I stayed involved in ACDC and served on the boards of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, A-SPAN, the Arlington Mill Civic Association, and the Commission on the Status of Women. I graduated from Leadership Arlington in 2010 (the best there has ever been!) and worked as the Director of Outreach for congressmen Jim Moran and Don Beyer. I currently serve on the Board of the Arlington Community Foundation.
With each role, program, and activity, I learned a little more about the place I now call home.
Along my journey to help build the Arlington community, I have learned more about Arlington’s past. We should be proud of our history of being the home of Freedman’s Village after the Civil War, and our role in standing firm against massive resistance.
I am also a member of the Junior League of Northern Virginia (JLNV), formerly known as the Service League of Arlington. The first Black members of the Junior League joined around 1980. The JLNV has a rich history and counts among our successes a number of accomplishments in Arlington. As I reflect on my journey, I can’t help but note that I would not have been welcomed as a member of the Service League of Arlington in 1958, despite how we currently view our history of that time.
We may have come a long way since 1958, but we still have a long way to go. The data on the geographic disparities in Arlington is disturbing. According to an ARLnow article in October 2018, research “reveals that where children are born in Arlington can have a decades-long ripple effect on their futures, with kids in the county’s more ethnically diverse neighborhoods growing up to make less money and end up in jail at higher rates than their counterparts.”
For me, community engagement has been a personal, professional and civic journey. A manifestation of a desire to connect more, give back more, learn more, and help Arlington be “more.”
This column will seek to explore what “community,” diversity, inclusion and engagement means in Arlington. While not always perfect, we are constantly striving to be an inclusive and progressive enclave that has enough “soul” to compete with the best of them.
Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.
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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done.
Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.
The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.
2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
Private School Fair
Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Congressional School in Falls Church, VA is delighted to host the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) at an upcoming Private School Fair. Private schools from around
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and