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George Mason University Arlington campus (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

George Mason University is set to receive a $25,000 grant from Arlington County to study Black demographic shifts and migratory trends in Arlington.

The Fairfax-based university, which has a campus in Arlington, proposes to develop a “database of research that documents Black displacement, migration, mobility, and the legacy of the Black diaspora that remains today in Arlington County,” according to a county report.

GMU envisions the database serving as a “significant learning source for Arlington and lead to future meaningful artistic projects focused on African American history,” the report says.

A team comprising GMU’s University Curator, Don Russell, visual artist Veronica Jackson, as well as several university librarians and historians, will sift through hundreds of primary documents to create the database.

This includes:

[M]aps, oral histories, census data, photographs, historic Black newspapers, travel guides, land surveys, Black businesses, real estate transactions, churches, cemeteries, schools, and related examples of Black cultural life in Arlington County, historically and contemporarily.

The grant is part of Arlington’s Historic Preservation Fund. It was established in April 2022 to support individual and community-led projects that preserve “Arlington’s history, built environment, or cultural heritage” per a county webpage.

In December, the County Board approved a form for applicants seeking either a $25,000 non-capital grant or a $100,000 capital grant. This June, GMU secured a grant earmarked for projects such as historical research and educational outreach.

The university, however, says it cannot agree to the terms of the grant as written, and is requesting a few changes. These changes are set to go before the County Board for approval this weekend.

GMU requests new wording clarifying it, as a public university, is not responsible for the county’s legal fees if the county faces a lawsuit. It also requests the ability to use the funds for an extra 90 days after the current deadline of June 30, 2024.

The university expects about $8,000 would go toward personnel costs, nearly $6,000 toward travel expenses and nearly $11,000 for general costs, including equipment, supplies and an artist fee for Jackson’s work.

Eleven other organizations and people received grants for capital projects — such as restoration, cleaning and repairs — and non-capital projects, says Historic Preservation Program Coordinator Cynthia Liccese-Torres.

She told ARLnow the county plans to share more details “once all of the grant agreements have been finalized and signed by all parties.”

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Author Art Spiegelman and the cover of his graphic novel about the Holocaust, “Maus” (via Arlington Public Library)

Arlington Public Library says it is taking a stand against book banning across the U.S. and in Virginia, declaring itself a “book sanctuary.”

“Everyone should read whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want,” said Library Director Diane Kresh in an announcement on social media this week.

As part of that commitment, Kresh plans to host a panel discussion featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman, who is no stranger to the issue of book banning.

Last year, a Tennessee school board banned Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale,” which uses animal characters to portray his father’s experiences during the Holocaust, citing claims of inappropriate language and lewd images.

Spiegelman later criticized the decision, arguing the need to confront difficult aspects of history to prevent whitewashing.

Spiegelman’s visit serves as an early kick-off to Banned Books Week, a campaign by the American Library Association and Amnesty International. The library director tied this year’s campaign, which runs from Oct. 1-7, to recent attempts to ban books across the country and the state.

“In recent months, events have moved closer to home in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as libraries have been threatened with removal of books by certain members of the community,” Kresh said. “They’ve been subjected to personal assaults in person, at public meetings and on social media.”

Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh discusses Banned Books Week on social media (via Arlington Public Library/Instagram)

Several neighboring school systems — including those in Fauquier and Prince William counties — have faced book challenges from both parents and administrators. These challenges generally revolve around concerns that students are being exposed to “sexually explicit material.”

Last year, the Virginia Department of Education implemented new model policies requiring all school districts to notify parents when instructional material containing sexually explicit content will be taught. Schools are also required to provide alternative curriculum for students if requested by their parents.

While these model policies are designed to strengthen what is commonly referred to as “parental rights,” some school systems, such as Hanover and Spotsylvania counties, have taken used the policies as a basis to remove certain books from schools altogether.

“Upholding the freedom to read requires vigilance and action taken by all of us to ensure that a multiplicity of views and diversity of opinion is housed in each library,” Kresh said.

Several banned books are prominently displayed behind Kresh in her Instagram video this week, including “The 1619 Project.” The book’s author, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, came to Arlington last year for Banned Books Week.

The discussion between Spiegelman and Kresh will take place at Kenmore Middle School auditorium tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m., followed by an audience Q&A session. The event will be streamed and in-person attendees can buy signed copies of Spiegelman’s book.

Clarendon Ballroom entrance on a Saturday night (staff photo)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) The Clarendon Ballroom is set to hold a street festival this weekend.

Bidding farewell to summer, the nightlife venue at 3185 Wilson Blvd — also known as just The Ballroom — is hosting what it says is Arlington’s first electronic music-inspired street festival.

This Saturday, Sept. 23, from 2-10 p.m., the streets of Clarendon will host a festival complete with a “state-of-the-art” stage, lighting and sound system, according to the event listing.

The event, dubbed “Ballroom on the Block,” will take place along N. Irving Street between Wilson Blvd and 12th Street N. It promises to bring a “rooftop vibe” down to the streets, complete with a beer garden, lounge sections, yard games, carnival treats and local vendors, per the event webpage.

More, below, from the event listing.

What to expect:

  • Epic Outdoor Mainstage Production
  • Local electronic DJs all Day
  • Outdoor Beer Garden
  • Food Stands
  • Outdoor grill and BBQ
  • Multiple Bars
  • Kandi Making Station
  • Carnival treats
  • Games including cornhole, water pong, giant jenga, ring toss
  • Local Vendors
  • Outdoor Lounges
  • Giveaways

Following the festivities, the venue also plans to host an after-party inside from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Ticket prices start at $10 but increase as the event date approaches. Between now and Saturday, tickets are $35 apiece for general admission.

For an additional $20, attendees can opt for a “VIP Fastpass,” which grants them line-skipping privileges and access to both indoor and outdoor areas of Clarendon Ballroom throughout the day.

Police will be closing N. Irving Street between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. to help accommodate the festival, according to ACPD. Would-be attendees might want to pack a poncho: rain is in the forecast.

Washington Capitals will host 2023 charity “garage sale” at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston (courtesy of Washington Capitals)

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.)Looking to score some Washington Capitals gear and give back?

The hockey team is hosting its first-ever charity “garage sale” this Saturday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston, featuring everything from bobbleheads to T-shirts, posters and hats. Players will not have personal items for sale, we’re told.

The credit card-only sale is open to members of the general public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. but season ticket holders will have early access from 10-11 a.m.

All proceeds will benefit the team’s charitable arm, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, and its “work in the community with nonprofit partners from across the region,” team spokeswoman Megan Eichenberg said.

This includes the “Family-to-Family” program, where the team “adopts” families in need, and “KABOOM!,” which has built 11 new playgrounds in the D.C. area since 2013 with support from the foundation.

Today (Monday), the same foundation also announced it would be donating $75,000 across nine nonprofits that work to make hockey in the D.C. area more diverse.

Before or after perusing the garage sale, Eichenberg said fans will be able to watch the Caps practice ahead of the season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena on Friday, Oct. 13.


Chip City appears to be on track to open its first Arlington location in Clarendon as early as next month.

The New York City-based cookie shop announced earlier this year it planned to open two new locations in the county: at The Crossing Clarendon, at 2700 Clarendon Blvd, and the Village at Shirlington, at 4014 Campbell Avenue.

The Clarendon location is currently undergoing renovations and an electrician was on-site installing hardware when ARLnow stopped by last week to take a peek.

While an exact opening date has still yet to be confirmed, Theodore Gailas, the company’s co-founder and chief brand officer, told ARLnow that the Clarendon location is likely to open between “late October” and “early November.” Gailas noted Shirlington location is still slated for “early January.”

“That is of course you know, assuming no surprises,” he said.

Known for its large, gooey 5.5-ounce cookies, Chip City has a rotating weekly menu of 40 different flavors, including the classics, chocolate chip and triple chocolate, and more unique flavors, from cannoli to horchata.

If the Clarendon location opens this fall, as projected, patrons may get to squeeze in a seasonal pumpkin spice latte cookie.

The weekly cookie rotation at Chip City (via Instagram)

Chip City’s move into Arlington is part of a 40-store expansion in the D.C. area and across the country. This includes a Bethesda location Gailas also says could open in “early October.”

But Chip City will have some competition as cookie stores continue to gain popularity locally.

Captain Cookie and the Milkman opened in Courthouse earlier this year. Crumbl Cookies has plans to open this fall at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. And delivery-only local cookie purveyor MOLTN has a mobile kitchen at a parking lot across from Whole Foods in Clarendon.

Woman at an Oktoberfest in Crystal City (courtesy photo)

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Get ready to hoist your steins and don your lederhosen, as Oktoberfest in Arlington is just around the corner.

Starting this Friday, Sept. 22, local bars and breweries across Arlington will celebrate a 200-year-old German tradition that began with the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria — who later became King Louis I — and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

Two centuries later, the wedding party has become a global, two-week party. Here is a roundup of places around Arlington celebrating Oktoberfest participating in the fun.

Courthaus Social 

This Friday, Sept. 22, the Courthouse beer garden Courthaus Social will kick off its “Oktoberfest on the Plaza” with a pup-friendly “Barktoberfest.”

There will be a “yappy hour” from 3-6 p.m., featuring a dog costume contest at 5:30 p.m. A professional photographer will be present to take photos. The winner receives a $50 Courthaus Social gift card.

The celebration picks up again Saturday, running from noon to 9 p.m. Activities include stein-holding and lederhosen contests, along with live music scheduled from 2-5 p.m. For those looking to quench their thirst, a “massive plaza bar” will also be open for attendees.

The event concludes on Sunday with a brunch featuring a live polka band from noon to 3 p.m. Attendees can take home a stein as a keepsake.

Admission to the three-day event is free and dogs are welcome.

Nighthawk Brewery & Pizza

This Saturday, Sept. 23, Pentagon City’s Nighthawk Brewery & Pizza in Westpost, formerly Pentagon Row, will celebrate Oktoberfest from noon to 4 p.m.

Tickets cost $30 and come with a 14-ounce plastic commemorative stein, three 14-ounce pours of any Nighthawk beer, one bratwurst with unlimited toppings and a 10% discount on additional food purchases.

The event will feature a variety of activities such as a stein-holding contest, a “Das Boot” chug race, a bratwurst-eating competition and a costume contest.

Green Pig Bistro

Green Pig Bistro also plans to host its own Oktoberfest starting at 4:30 p.m. There will be live music, raffles and corn hole, according to the restaurant’s website.

The Arlington County Police Department plans to close 11th Street N. between N. Fillmore Street and N. Edgewood Street from approximately 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for the event.

Bronson Bierhall

Next Saturday, Sept. 30, Bronson Bierhall in Ballston will host its Oktoberfest from noon to 2 a.m. The day’s events feature live music, beer and bratwurst specials and drinking games.

Tickets range from $16 to $35, offering different perks for attendees. A $16 ticket includes a complimentary bratwurst served with a potato salad and a beer. For those looking to sample more brews, the $35 ticket offers four beer tasters along with brats and potato salad.

Crystal City

Also next Saturday, Sept. 30, there will be a Bavarian beer festival from 1-5 p.m. at the corner of 22nd Street S. and S. Fern Street, behind what is dubbed “Restaurant Row” in Crystal City.

The event includes live music from the Alte Kumpel Band and The Pilgrims of Deep Run. Food and drinks, including offerings from Crystal City Sports Pub, will be available for purchase.

Activities include a stein-holding competition, a best-dressed contest, lawn games and crafting stations for kids featuring hat-making and clove decor. Attendees can register online ahead of time.


A new delivery-only restaurant specializing in “loaded fries” has opened in a parking lot near Clarendon.

For Your Fries Only is serving up fries slathered in sauce and topped with a protein of choice from a trailer in the vacant Courthouse West parking lot across from Whole Foods.

It joins a handful of other food trailers selling everything from fried chicken sandwiches to Asian street food to asada fries via third-party delivery apps.

The owner told ARLnow the business had officially launched last week. It operates from one of the three trailers owned by REEF Technology, a company specializing in transforming underutilized urban parking lots into hubs for food and logistics. The food service arm of Reef is called NBRHD Kitchens.

Like other “ghost kitchens,” For Your Fries Only operates exclusively through third-party delivery platforms such as Uber Eats and DoorDash.

The concept has attracted a lot of media buzz and investors in recent years, especially during the pandemic when many people were getting food delivered more frequently. Based on its popularity, the Arlington County Board amended its zoning ordinance in June to streamline delivery for small businesses.

For Your Fries Only initially started with two locations in Ohio and has since expanded to Baltimore, Maryland and Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, according to its website.

The eatery offers toppings ranging from chicken and steak to shrimp and pepperoni, as well as various sauces. The menu also features chicken wings, available in sets of 10, 20, or 30, and customers can have them tossed in a choice of two sauces.

Photos via For Your Fries Only/Instagram


The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) says it avoided a canned goods shortfall with a timely donation from Bloomberg Industry Group.

Over Labor Day weekend, the local food bank said it received more than 3,600 canned goods from the Arlington-based affiliate of Bloomberg, which provides legal, tax and business reporting and services.

In a press release, AFAC says it was facing a week-long shortage of canned food donations, which “threatened to disrupt the lifeline they provide to thousands of Arlington families.”

The donation comes as the food pantry, which serves around 3,300 Arlington families a week, is seeing an uptick in clients. It attributes the uptick to inflation and rollbacks in Covid-era federal food assistance and child tax credits.

“As demands for food assistance exponentially increase due to economic setbacks like inflation and cuts in government assistance, AFAC’s mission to provide essential resources to vulnerable families has never been more crucial,” the nonprofit said in a press release.

That need is particularly acute in South Arlington, according to a recent study, which found the area has one of the highest concentrations of families in the nation who cannot afford basic necessities and childcare.

Overall, Bloomberg Industry Group — which has hosted food drives and helped bag food for AFAC before — collected 14,290 pounds of food for distribution.

“It was our privilege to lend a helping hand to AFAC in their time of need,” says Josh Eastright, CEO of the company, which has offices in Crystal City. “We’re proud to support the great work they do serving our local community, and I want to thank our team for their generosity supporting this effort.”

Last Saturday, employees of another company with a significant local presence volunteered with a food distribution event.

Amazon employees teamed up with nonprofit Food for Neighbors, which combats child hunger in the region, to collect nearly 20,000 pounds of food and toiletries, according to a press release.

After the collection, dubbed a “Red Bag” event, the items were distributed to more than 5,800 students across 42 secondary schools across Northern Virginia, including Arlington Community High School, Gunston Middle School, Kenmore Middle School and Wakefield High School.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Amazon as a Food For Neighbors Community Champion and sponsor of our first Red Bag food and toiletry collection event of the new school year,” Karen Joseph, founder and executive director of Food For Neighbors, said in the release.

The event was part of Amazon’s Global Month of Volunteering, “when tens of thousands of Amazon employees around the world will go out in their communities and do good together,” Melissa Robinson, principal program manager of Volunteering at Amazon, said in a statement.

Amazon previously helped feed Arlington Public Schools families last fall via a $155,000 donation to Food For Neighbors from Amazon Fresh, Joseph noted.

Photo (1) via AFAC/Facebook

Michele Fleming and her son Spencer host a lemonade stand to raise money for childhood cancer research (courtesy of Michele Fleming)

(Updated 12:07 p.m.) Michele Fleming says losing a child to cancer is the “hardest possible thing you can imagine.”

Though Fleming is still reeling from the loss of her 18-year-old son Nathan, who lost his battle with cancer in 2019, she has used that grief to raise more than $300,000 toward childhood cancer research.

“It’s honestly still very hard to talk about,” Fleming told ARLnow. “But doing this — trying to help other kids in Nathan’s honor — is very healing.”

Following Nathan’s passing, Fleming founded Nathan’s Cancer Slayers in 2020 in collaboration with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, an organization created in memory of 8-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who died of cancer in August 2004.

Since establishing Nathan’s Cancer Slayers, Fleming and her nationwide team of hundreds of volunteers have collectively raised $310,759 by hosting lemonade stands and participating in the annual “Million Mile” event, where participants of all ages log miles walked, bicycled or run throughout September to raise funds for children with cancer.

This weekend, she will be hosting another lemonade stand at Beyer Volvo in Falls Church and other local vendors have pledged to donate portions of their sales this month.

Fleming aims to raise $100,000 by the end of this year. The money would fund ongoing research by Drs. Jeff Toretsky and Aykut Üren at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Toretsky was also Nathan’s oncologist.

For years, Toretsky and his colleague Üren have worked to find better drug treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that develops in voluntary muscles that control movements, such as those in arms and legs. Nathan had been diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which commonly affects large muscles in the torso, arms and legs.

While Toretsky said he and Üren have made progress, one of the main challenges in pediatric cancer research is finding funding to develop a drug treatment for a specific type of cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 400 to 500 new cases of rhabdomyosarcoma are diagnosed each year in the United States. The majority of these cases occur in children and teens, with over half affecting children younger than 10 years old. Rhabdomyosarcoma constitutes about 3% of all childhood cancers.

Because these numbers are so low, Toretsky said it is difficult to get grants from drug makers to fund the research, noting Fleming’s fundraising is a primary reason why he and Üren have been able to continue their research.

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It started out as an ordinary day, like any other.

Nikki Reed, her husband Mike, and their two young children, 5-year-old Sylvia and 6-month-old Eli, were spending their Fourth of July at the pool when Reed began to feel dizzy.

Thinking she was just dehydrated, Reed went home, took a cold shower and drank plenty of water. But the dizziness persisted.

That night, she struggled to remove her contacts and earrings with her left hand. The following morning, she had difficulty holding Eli and her left arm felt numb.

After seeing her primary care physician and physical therapist, she was told it may be a pinched nerve due to carrying her baby. On their advice, Reed went to the emergency room for more tests.

After a CT scan, Reed received her results via email as she sat alone on a hospital gurney in the hallway. She had a rare and aggressive brain tumor, later diagnosed as glioblastoma.

In a matter of days, Reed’s life would take an abrupt turn.

“I went to the doctor on July 5. I went to the hospital on July 6. I had a brain biopsy on the 8th and the surgery [removed the tumor] was a couple of days after that,” Reed, an art teacher entering her seventh year at Tuckahoe Elementary School, told ARLnow.

A long road ahead

While the neurosurgeon successfully removed about 95% of Reed’s rapidly growing tumor, she still requires radiation and chemotherapy to eradicate the remaining cancerous cells.

Reed has been undergoing treatment since July that will continue through the end of the September.

Although glioblastoma is not curable, Reed said it is treatable.

The National Brain Tumor Society says glioblastoma “is one of the most complex, deadly, and treatment-resistant cancers.”

The five-year survival rate stands at about 7% but, on average, patients diagnosed with glioblastoma are expected to survive about eight months.

These statistics are sobering. Still, Reed remains hopeful, declaring on her online blog she plans to “fight like hell” to be here for her family.

“I told my oncologist, ‘I hear you saying that it’s treatable but not curable. Tell me about someone you’ve treated,’ and he said, ‘I’ve treated people that are here 10 to 15 years later.’ I said, ‘Okay, keep me alive because 10 to 15 years is a lot of time for medical advancement. Let’s do what we can to keep me here,'” she told ARLnow.

‘I can do hard things’

In the months following her diagnosis, Reed said her her parents relocated from Richmond to Fairfax to be closer. Many of her friends and colleagues have also helped raise funds to assist with the mounting medical bills and other expenses.

“We have a lot of medical expenses… we have childcare costs, food, medical. Yeah, all those things — because insurance doesn’t cover literally anything,” she said. “I’m a teacher. Mike works for the government. Like, we’re not bringing in that much cash on our own. All of this is just unexpected.”

To date, Reed’s community has rallied to raise approximately $32,000 through a GoFundMe campaign and the sale of t-shirts bearing the message “I can do hard things” on the front.

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(Updated 9/13/23) Columbia Pike pet festival “Paws on the Pike” will return this month and unleash a day of pet-centric offerings and activities.

The pet fair, hosted by the Columbia Pike Partnership, is scheduled for Sept. 30 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Penrose Square outdoor plaza, located at 2501 9th Road S.

Attendees can have their pets sit for complimentary pet portraits and participate in a pet costume contest, hosted by the Arlington Animal Hospital in honor of its 85th anniversary. Those interested in portraits must sign up in advance.

There will be a DJ and a “water bar” where pets can sample water. At 1 p.m., Pastor Ashley Goff of Arlington Presbyterian Church will perform a pet blessing.

Pet owners can also connect with local pet service providers and vendors, such as veterinarians, trainers, pet-sitters, boarders, dog walkers and groomers.

For those interested in pet adoption, representatives from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington will be available to inform people about animals in need of homes.

A few weeks later, a Columbia Pike wellness festival showcasing local wellness purveyors will be held in the same location on Saturday, Oct. 14 from noon to 4 p.m.

Photo (1) via Columbia Pike Partnership/Facebook


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