Gary Shulman has only lived in Arlington for about three months but has created a popular Facebook group all about the warm and wonderful feelings the county evokes.
Shulman, a retired early education specialist and published poet, was already using his outreach and advocacy skills to connect with Arlington residents in the Facebook group, Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19 after he moved to Rosslyn in April.
Without even realizing it, that page became the “Gary Shulman Show,” he said, where he would post all of his and his partner Marc’s adventures. The intention of the page was not for it to become the “blog” of one user. So, others encouraged Shulman to begin a new Facebook page — a page that could remind Arlingtonians what makes the county special.
He started Arlington Through the Eyes of a Newbie on May 13 and gained more than 600 followers within the first day. Now, he has over 700 members that follow his and Marc’s day-to-day life, as well as share helpful tips and suggestions. Shulman and Marc have been able to discover nitty-gritty information — where the best dermatologist is, allergist, dentist, even barbershop.
As he’s explored Arlington, members of the group have recognized him, as if he’s a local celebrity. Some stop and take photos with him to share on Facebook.
“There is a wonderful and caring network [in Arlington] and in many ways, reminds me of my early days in East NY and Canarsie Brooklyn where a sense of community was in every fiber of every neighbor. They all cared,” Shulman posted on his personal Facebook account.
Shulman always fantasized about living in Mayberry, the setting of “The Andy Griffith Show,” where people care about each other, garden, have beautiful homes, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, he told ARLnow. His Facebook page reminds Arlingtonians to look on the ground and take in their (and others’) neighborhoods, places they pass daily.
He and Marc enjoy trying new restaurants, like Brass Rabbit, and Guajillo, where a post shows them trying out one of its “sangritas.” They also like finding beautiful parks and neighborhoods like Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden and Lyon Village and meeting new friends (especially dogs). Shulman sometimes shares some of his published poems.
Shulman and Marc had only moved to Arlington a month before he started his Facebook group. They spent two years and eight months in Palm Springs, where they had originally thought they’d spend retirement.
However sitting in their Palm Springs home, outside temperatures reaching 120 degrees with 0% precipitation, the COVID-19 pandemic trapped Shulman and Marc inside.
“When it’s 120 degrees, you can’t go any place — you’re a prisoner,” said Shulman. “Something was happening to my mental health. Covid happened, and then everything closed down.”
Since moving to Arlington, they’ve been able to get out and about.
It’s no doubt that Shulman’s “fans” know him and Marc to be walkers. Most of his posts begin with some form of “a stroll through…,” “our goal was to walk…,” or “just a short 3 miler today… .” Shulman explained that walking is good for his health and redirects his brain.
As he walks, he appreciates the beauty of people’s gardens and neighborhood homes. He stops and smells the roses. Talking with ARLnow, Shulman emphasized, “the small things are the important things.”
Now, after making a move from Rosslyn to their Ballston apartment in June, Shulman sees his Facebook page as a way to showcase how wonderful Arlington is and bring Arlingtonians together. It is a mix of Brooklyn, New York, and Palm Springs, California, with a close community and liveable climate.
Shulman and Marc hope “people will get off their behinds to start walking,” Shulman says. “Just learn and appreciate what Arlington has to offer.”
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