Arlington, VA

The Virginia state legislature adjourned from its 2020 session last week, but not before a lawmaker from Arlington finally succeeded in his years-long quest to ban conversion therapy.

Virginia became the first Southern state to ban conversion therapy for people under the age of 18, thanks in part to Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D). Hope’s bill, HB 386, was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday, March 2.

Conversion therapy “is any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth. Virginia is the twentieth state in the country to have banned the practice.

Hope first proposed the conversion therapy ban seven years ago, and has continued to do so during each legislative session, but before this year it kept getting killed in the Republican-majority subcommittees.

Hope deems the success of the bill “very partisan,” crediting the Democratic majority in both houses of the General Assembly in getting the bill passed. This is the first time in 26 years that the Democrats have controlled the state government.

The path to the ban, however, involved some bipartisan cooperation.

The Virginia Department of Health Professions played a role in building the bill. In 2018, the Chairman of the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee, Bobby Orrock (R), turned to the Dept. of Health Professions to regulate conversion therapy practices without the help of lawmakers. The department had refrained from doing so for the past seven years because officials felt that the state legislature was sending them a message by killing the conversion therapy ban in subcommittee so many times.

However, after Orrock reached out, the department created a workgroup to look into the issue and, because of Hope’s work on the bill, he was asked to take part.

“[The Dept. of Health Professions] set up a workgroup, and I was a part of that workgroup,” Hope said. “They got all the chairs of all the different health professions that touch conversion therapy — so they had social workers, they had psychiatrists, they had psychologist, they had school counselors, etc. — they had everyone who might have a hand in conversion therapy. And they all decided in at that meeting for each of them to develop their own regulations prohibiting conversion therapy.”

The meetings informed the details of the bill. In the end, however, it was the Democratic majority that gave Del. Hope the victory he had been seeking for seven years.

“It really is a defining moment,” Hope said. “To be the 20th state and the first state in the South to [ban conversion therapy] really shows how hearts and minds have changed across the country and I couldn’t be more proud.”

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Update at 10:05 a.m. — This event was cancelled Wednesday night. From the organizers:

Out of an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 23rd Street Festival. We hope to reschedule the event and are considering Saturday, August 15th or Saturday, August 29th as potential dates… We hope you’re as inspired as we are to keep this momentum. Thank you for your support, and we look forward building with you to make the first-ever 23rd Street Festival a successful production and experience for all when it is rescheduled later this year! Thank you, Amanda + Monica Amanda Rodrigues Smith Monica Rodrigues Smith

Earlier: A new open-air community art and food festival will soon make its debut in Crystal City.

The 23rd Street Festival is set to take place on Saturday, March 21, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be performances from Synetic Theater and other artists and groups, according to the event’s website, plus food from Portofino, Top Thai, Fredrico, and other eateries along the 23rd Street S. restaurant row.

“The 23rd Street Festival invites the DMV’s unique creators and innovators across food, style, art, & music to come together in one interactive outdoor experience,” said an event description. “For one day, we will convert our store-lined Main Street into an open-air block party for you to experience some of Arlington’s oldest and most storied locally owned businesses. From fine cuisine to boutiques and curious shops around every corner, there’s a little something for everyone!”

Event co-producer Amanda Rodrigues Smith said the organizers were inspired by the “opportunity to bring people together.”

The festival will be take place on 23rd Street S. between Eads and Fern streets.

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Monday, March 9

Developmental Disability Awareness Month-Movie Night
Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 6-9 p.m.

The Arlington County Department of Human Services’ Developmental Disability Services Bureau presents a screening of The Peanut Butter Falcon. The film is PG-13.

Tuesday, March 10

Crosshairs Garage Races
201 12th Street S. Public Parking (201 12th Street S.)
Time: 6-9 p.m.

Crosshairs Garage Races returns to Crystal City for its 6th year as the region’s only underground bike race. Events have cyclists competing for prizes and points in pursuit of the Petty Cup.

Wednesday, March 11

Coffee & Conversation: Providing Immigration Legal Services in Arlington
Westover Market & Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) 
Time: 10-11 a.m.

Erin McKenney of Just Neighbors, a nonprofit that provides immigration legal services, will describe how many Arlington clients benefit from the volunteer-supported organization.

Papa’s Basement Livecast @ Summers
Summers Restaurant (1520 N. Courthouse Road)
Time: 8-10 p.m.

Originating as a public access radio show, the Papa’s Basement Podcast has grown to a body of work encompassing over 600 in-studio podcasts and dozens of live shows.

Thursday, March 12

AWE Summit 2020*
Marymount Ballston Center (1000 N. Glebe Road) 

Time: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 

The AWE SUMMIT is a gathering of women business owners in the D.C. region. The event will feature educational and inspiring presentations, panels, and conversations.

Life in Arlington in the 1920s
Marymount Reinsch Library Auditorium (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

Learn what life was like in 1920s Arlington. Author of book “The Washington National Mall” Peter R. Penczer will be presenting a photographic journey through Arlington in the 1920s.

Friday, March 13

The Wizard of Oz*
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (4000 Lorcom Lane) 

Time: 7:30-9 p.m. 

Join the St. Andrew’s Players for a performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” the timeless family classic tale about a girl from Kansas, her dog, Toto, and a weird dream during a major weather event.

Sunday, March 15

Book Talk – Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild and His Time
Congregation Etz Hayim (2920 Arlington Blvd.) 

Time: 10:15-11:45 a.m. 

The event will feature a discussion on the Rothschild banking dynasty’s founding father and a rich glimpse into 18th-century Europe.

Explore Turkish Culture and Cuisine
Yayla Bistro (2201 N. Westmoreland Street) 

Time: 4-6 p.m. 

Open Kitchen D.C. invites you to experience the distinct flavors and stories of Turkey. Guests will receive a Yayla Bistro original recipe and spices to try at home.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.

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A new high-end coffee shop is open in Arlington.

For Five Coffee Roasters opened yesterday in Courthouse, at 2311 Wilson Blvd. With every order, the cafe will serve a Nutella-stuffed cookie at no charge for the next three months, according to the owner.

“[Giving the cookies out] is us saying thank you, and we’re happy to serve you,” the owner, Stefanos Vouvoudakis said. “And giving back to the customer.”

The menu includes sandwiches and breakfast items, but Vouvoudakis is especially proud of the pastry selection at For Five, calling it “second to none.” The cafe serves a variety of cookies, including a “fruity pebbles” cookie with cream cheese frosting, plus red velvet, triple chocolate chip, and apple crumb pie filling cookies.

The coffee menu includes pour-over and cold brew options, and an espresso bar. Vouvoudakis’ favorite drink is the latte, for its “perfect balance between the milk and espresso.”

This is the second D.C. area location for the small, New York City-based chain. It has an existing location in Alexandria and others in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Vouvoudakis says For Five is also planning to open a location in Tysons within the next three to four months.

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Monday, March 2

More Than Sad: Suicide Prevention Education for Parents
The Sycamore School (4600 N. Fairfax Drive)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

This program teaches parents how to recognize signs of depression and other mental health problems, initiate a conversation with their child, and get help.

Tuesday, March 3

Crosshairs Garage Races
201 12th Street S. Public Parking (201 12th Street S.)
Time: 6-9 p.m.

Crosshairs Garage Races returns to Crystal City for its 6th year as the region’s only underground bike race. Events for elites and amateurs alike have cyclists competing for prizes and points in pursuit of the Petty Cup.

Wednesday, March 4

Coffee & Conversation: Bob Levey on His Days at the Washington Post
Westover Market & Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) 
Time: 10-11 a.m.

Former Washington Post columnist Bob Levey will discuss the “Golden Era” at the Washington Post and also his recently published first novel, “Larry Felder, Candidate”.

Friday, March 6

4th Annual Monte Carlo Night*
Army Navy Country Club (1700 Army Navy Drive)
Time: 8-11 p.m.

Try your luck at games of chance, take a spin on the dance floor, enjoy beer, wine, signature drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. This fundraiser for the Junior League of Northern Virginia also includes a raffle and a silent auction.

Saturday, March 7

Junior League of Washington’s Children’s Trunk Show
Crystal City Shops (2100-B Crystal Drive) 

Time: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 

Buy pre-owned children’s merchandise, including nursery furniture, high chairs, swings, strollers, and maternity wear at this annual event. There will also be gently used designer children’s clothing and new items.

Spring Garden Kick-off
Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Learn how to start your own garden or how to get involved to help grow fresh produce for families in need. This event features speakers, breakout sessions by local experts, hands-on activities, exhibit tables, and free seeds.

Sunday, March 8

Deer Overpopulation Presentation & Discussion*
Arlington Central Library Auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street) 

Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m. 

The event will feature a discussion on what the overpopulation of deer means for our natural areas. The discussion will be led by Bill Browning, the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.

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An Arlington resident has produced a new documentary about the mesmerizing world of synchronized skating.

Life in Synchro,” partly filmed at the MedStar Capitals IcePlex in Ballston, will be screened locally at the DC Independent Film Festival on Saturday, March 7. Rosslyn resident Nicole Davies produced the film while fellow American University alum Angela Pinaglia directed it.

The female-dominated sport, in which teams of eight to 20 skaters perform formations and step sequences in-sync to music, is little-known to most people, the filmmakers said. When Pinaglia was doing research for the film, she could not find any previous documentaries or films based on synchronized skating.

We talked with both filmmakers about the documentary and the sport.

How did you get involved in the project? 

Nicole: I have been a synchronized skater since I was nine years old. Angela and I met at American University and we were working together for the school communication summer program. I was always talking about synchronized skating and Angela didn’t really care until about three years ago. Angela saw it for the first time in Arlington. She realized then when she saw it how special it was.

Angela: When you’re in the ice rink you can literally feel a wall of wind as sixteen skaters are skating past you on the ice, so it’s a very immersive experience. I turned to Nicole afterwards and I said this is really cool, [and that] we should do a documentary.

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Arlington Public Library is hosting author Roxane Gay as part of its 2020 Arlington Reads spring series.

Gay’s collection of essays, “Bad Feminist,” was a New York Times best seller, and was named as one of the best books of the year by NPR. She has also written several other works, including the novel “Untamed State,” the collection of short stories “Difficult Women,” and her memoir “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.”

Gay currently co-hosts a podcast named “Hear to Slay” with Tressie McMillan Cottom, “a podcast with an intersectional perspective on celebrity, culture, politics, art, life, love, and more,” the library website said. She is also a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times.

The talk will take place on March 10 from 7-9 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).

Other authors set to talk at Central Library as part of the series — dubbed “Who Are We the People?” — include Laila Lalami, Rebecca Traister, Valeria Luiselli and Brooke Gladstone.

From the library’s website:

The spring series authors transcend genre, medium and subject to wrestle with our political and social moment and tackle complex questions of identity and belonging With humor, fervor and compassion, they explore what our duties and obligations are to each other, our nation and our world.

As these writers probe the nature of justice and equality today, they show us that, even with all our imperfections, we can move together to form a more perfect Union for a more equitable tomorrow. Arlington Reads asks us, “Who are We the People?” What will our answer be?

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Wednesday, February 26

Smarty Pets: Focusing on Pet Food
Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive)
Time: 6-7 p.m. 

Dr. Kerry Skorup and Selena Healey will make a presentation on food options for pets. They will cover different types of diets for different animals.

Thursday, February 27

Virginia Tech MBA Programs Information Session*
Virginia Tech Ballston Campus (900 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 12-1 p.m.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s Ballston-based Executive MBA program at this information session, where officials will discuss curriculum, tuition, financial aid, and more.

Rock The Rink
Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street) 

Time: 7-8 p.m. 

This skating event at the Pentagon Row rink will feature an appearance by Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-themed specials at surrounding restaurants.

Saturday, February 29

Feel the Heritage Festival
Charles Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.) 
Time: 1-6 p.m.

This Black History Month event will feature live music and dance, dozens of vendors, delicious food, cook-off competition, and a Hall of History with photos and artifacts from Arlington’s historically African-American neighborhoods and organizations.

11th Annual MOVE ME Festival
Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road)
Time: 2-5 p.m. 

Bowen McCauley Dance Company will present the 11th Annual MOVE ME Festival featuring more than 15 local area dance companies and artists who will offer integrated workshops, educational activities, and performances on two stages.

Bowties and Tails 
Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill (1600 Wilson Blvd, Suite 810) 
Time: 7-10 p.m.

Join Lu’s Labs as they celebrate five years of rescue. Your $75 ticket includes beer, wine and heavy hor d’oeuvres. Entertainment by Smoky the DJ.

Saturday, March 1

Beginner’s ASL Class: 8 Weeks
Shirlington Library (4200 Campbell Avenue)
Time: 1-2:30 p.m.

This course starts from a foundation of concepts and hand shapes, then builds to a basic understanding of forming phrases in American Sign Language. It will cover vocabulary, grammar, history and culture of ASL.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.

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A new premium cigar store is open in the Ballston neighborhood.

Cigar Unlimited (4215 Fairfax Drive) sells a wide range of premium cigars, which are handmade and rolled in dried tobacco leaves. The cigars are manufactured in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and the U.S., some of which are made specifically for the shop, Mo Fakhro, the owner, told ARLnow.

The store is the only cigar shop that has a personal relationship with their manufacturers in the D.C. area, Fakhro claimed.

“You’re not going to find [these cigars] anywhere else, except to come visit us in the store,” Fakhro said.

Fakhro also owned Cigar Connection, a shop previously located nearby, at the corner of N. Randolph and Fairfax streets in Ballston. The shop opened in 2004 but was forced to close in 2014 after the lease expired, Fakhro said.

The new store will include house blend cigars, which were not sold at the old store.

Cigar Unlimited is not fully stocked yet, Fakhro said, adding that the store plans to hold its grand opening sometime next month.

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Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) next month will host an exhibition that pays tribute to women who have helped to shape Arlington.

The exhibit, open from March 5 to April 2, will display “stories, photographs, letters and memorabilia, which spotlight individuals and groups of Arlington women who dedicate their work to improve their community and the lives of others,” according to the library website.

Dubbed “Women’s Work: Then & Now,” the exhibit coincides with both Arlington County’s centennial and the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote and was passed in 1920.

Liza Mundy, the author of “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II,” will participate in an author talk after the opening reception, which is being held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5. Attendees are asked to RSVP for the event.

More from the library website:

Discover and learn about the work of Anna Barber, Charlene Bickford, Ellen Bozman, Judith Brewer, Elizabeth Campbell, Gertrude Crocker, Pauline Haislip Duncan, Alice Fleet, Alice Foster, Saundra Green, Critchett Hodukavich, Seema Jain, Carolyn (Carrie) Johnson, Cintia Johnson, Dr. Phoebe Hall Knipling, Puwen Lee, Marguerete Luter, Mary A. R. Marshall, Sushmita Mazumdar, Ruby Lee Minar, Constance (Connie) Ramirez, Caroline Gary Romano, Cornelia Bruere Rose, Jr., Virginia Lillis Smith, Florence Starzynski, Margarite Syphax, Nancy Tate, Marjorie Varner, and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez.

The nominees, selected by the 16 exhibition partners, were based on their groundbreaking, visionary and ongoing contributions to the communities they serve. Also included in this exhibition, are women who were curated from the Center for Local History’s online exhibition, “Women’s Work: Stories of Persistence and Influence.”

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A lot has changed for Grace Rubinger, an Arlington native who has been working for Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) since she graduated college.

Rubinger started her career as an intern in Rep. Beyer’s office the fall after she graduated from Elon University in 2016, just before President Trump was elected. Four years later, she is now a legislative assistant to the congressman, working behind the scenes in various policy areas Rep. Beyer is passionate about.

She recently began taking on more responsibility in specific issue areas. Currently, she is handling the congressman’s work on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

“When we’re in session there will be any given number of hearings for that committee during the week,” Rubinger told ARLnow.
“I’ll spend my time preparing for [the hearings], reading the background materials and witness testimonies and then coming up with questions that I’d like for the congressman to ask the witnesses.”

Rubinger also advises the congressman when deciding which bills he should support.

Rubinger’s interest in politics goes back to her upbringing near Cherrydale, where she attended Taylor Elementary and Williamsburg Middle School. Politics was always right across the Potomac River, she said, and at home her parents were in tune with current events. There would often be a nightly discussion of the news at the dinner table.

Her interest in policy, however, was shaped at Elon. In her senior year, Rubinger wrote a thesis on the intersection between the Catholic Church’s view on birth control and the women’s movement.

“Writing that thesis and figuring out my own views was the turning point for me,” Rubinger said.

Rubinger’s tenure at Rep. Beyer’s office has come at a unique time in history. Her work as an intern began prior to the 2016 election, and has stretched into what is now the third presidential impeachment trial in American history — an impeachment process her boss has been particularly vocal about.

“It is interesting to look back and see how many things have changed,” said Rubinger.

“The one thing that I’ve noticed just in my different capacities in the office is just how much more engaged people are,” she said. “People are so outraged all the time about different things that are going on and I think [public engagement] is probably the one bright spot in everything that’s going on. People are reading the news more and staying more engaged and calling us and writing us more.”

“That is something that might have been missing beforehand,” she added.

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