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AIM board members addressing the public at a virtual meeting (via Arlington Independent Media/Zoom)

Updated 3/27 After an intense several weeks involving a county audit, a board president’s resignation and a mass layoff of all staff members, Arlington Independent Media is attempting to turn a new leaf.

The beleaguered nonprofit’s board members, now the only operational staff of the longstanding public access television and radio broadcaster, sketched out a tentative path forward yesterday (Monday) while fielding questions — and occasional accusations — from members of the public.

AIM is currently awaiting the results of an audit into the shaky finances that led the organization to terminate its entire staff — including the CEO — and elect a new president and treasurer last week. In the meantime, the board plans to seek more public support in the form of fundraising and volunteer efforts — a collaboration that leaders hope to earn through a renewed focus on transparency.

No matter what, Treasurer Amanda MacKaye told a Zoom room of about 40 attendees, AIM is not going anywhere.

“The Arlington County Board is not interested in shutting AIM down. That’s not what they do,” she said. “And that’s a narrative that’s been tossed around, and we are asking you kindly to stop using that term. The only people who can shut AIM down are its members, and we are also the only people who can make AIM stick around for as long as we want.”

MacKaye announced that AIM’s “new home” will be at the Arlington Cultural Affairs building at 3700 S. Four Mile Run in Green Valley, rather than the Courthouse location that the organization previously planned to use. Efforts at the Courthouse site are currently “on pause” because AIM lacks the funds to build it out, board member Richard Archambault said.

AIM still owes about $5,000 per month in rent for the two properties and is currently in arrears.

On Friday, the nonprofit shut off the transmitter to its low-power radio station, WERA 96.7, which had been broadcasting an endless loop of lo-fi beats since Dec. 1. The station is “temporarily on hiatus,” AIM says on its website.

The organization does not intend to hire an interim CEO to replace now-former CEO Whytni Kernodle, members were told last night.

AIM notified members last week that a closed-session meeting would be taking place on Monday. Then, about three hours before the meeting started, the nonprofit sent a second email clarifying that a portion of the meeting would be open to the public.

A number of participants expressed deep concerns about the group’s finances and communications.

Thomas Schaad, a former producer and board member who has been a member of AIM since 1991, said he was “stunned” by the amount of money the organization has been spending on salaries and consulting.

“I just have to advise you that if you are serious about doing fundraising after the general meeting next time, there had better be a whole lot of answers about how that’s gonna go, or you’re not going to get people to raise any money at all,” he said.

For many members, Schaad said donating to AIM seems like throwing money “down an endless, bottomless, recurring pit.”

Board President Rhonda Snipe acknowledged the group’s financial troubles and said they were the main reason for laying off all staff members. She added that the move to Courthouse “wasn’t planned out appropriately.”

“We certainly take responsibility as a governing body, that we did not oversee the staff completing that,” she said. “We weren’t involved enough, and as a result, we just didn’t have visibility on what was really going on.”

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Arlington Independent Media staff at work (via Arlington County)

(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington Independent Media has laid off all staff members while electing new leaders amid a county audit of the group’s finances.

AIM’s board, now under the leadership of President Rhonda Snipe and Treasurer Amanda MacKaye, will be “taking over operations of the organization for the time being,” the organization announced Monday following a closed special meeting.

“This decision was not made lightly, and we understand the impact it will have on both our team members and the community we serve,” AIM CEO Whytni Kernodle said of the layoffs, in an email sent just before the meeting. “We want to express our deepest gratitude for the dedication, passion, and hard work that each member of our team has contributed to AIM over the last two and a half years.”

Kernodle is among those who have received layoff notices, Snipe said, adding that the board is “working with auditors to fully understand the financial health of the organization.”

This development comes just days after more than a dozen AIM members and former board members signed an open letter on Thursday alleging financial mismanagement and calling for a special meeting.

Former board president Chris Judson announced his resignation that same day, citing “differing visions for AIM,” one of which “is not achievable in the current financial environment, especially considering the recently proposed County budget.”

AIM, which has produced public access TV since 1982 and radio since 2015, plans to host another special meeting April 17 in the Black Box Theater at 3700 Four Mile Run Drive.

“This will be a season of belt-tightening for AIM, and we fervently believe it will be a temporary one,” the organization said. “The Board believes that AIM has the potential to achieve an ambitious new vision of what public access, community-produced media can be in the 21st century, but we have to take some necessary steps to get there. We need to rebuild trust, conduct a financial audit, and return to radio and TV production.”

Arlington County initiated its audit of AIM’s budget earlier this month. This cut off money flowing into the organization from cable subscription-generated revenue that the county, schools and organizations like AIM can tap into for capital expenses.

Kernodle said in a letter last week that the freeze “has created a crisis within our organization.”

“Without these funds,” she said, “we are unable to meet our financial obligations, including paying our dedicated staff and freelance engineers and other teammates who are instrumental in keeping our organization running smoothly.”

Prior to yesterday’s announcements, Station Manager Alvin Jones told ARLnow that the audit had created uncertainty and made it more difficult for AIM to fundraise.

“The plans, desires and hopes of our bright future [are] now in limbo,” he said last week. “This limbo causes the newly founded contacts and relationships to allocate their funds to other organizations.”

The AIM members who called for last night’s meeting argued that the group has likely been improperly spending the cable money — also known as Public, Educational and Government funds — on non-capital costs. Citing the 2023 annual report, they say AIM reported spending $622,937 on employee compensation and $104,662 on office operations yet only netted $453,048 in funds that can go to operating costs such as salaries.

AIM, which was in the process of moving from its longtime Clarendon location to Courthouse, furloughed some staff members from December to mid-January and again starting this month, a staffer told ARLnow last week.

Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Takis Karantonis said at a Saturday meeting that the county increased support for AIM by 30% in Fiscal Year 2024, “yet the organization has managed to run aground financially three times in this year alone.” He stands by the ongoing audit.

“We wouldn’t do all this is we weren’t really committed and supportive of the mission of AIM,” Karantonis said. “We do it because we are.”

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A screenshot from a social media post from Arlington Independent Media last week (via Arlington Independent Media/Instagram)

Amid its stalled move from Clarendon to Courthouse, Arlington Independent Media is being audited by the county, according to the nonprofit’s leadership.

Meantime, simmering divides among the organization’s leadership, AIM members and people currently or formerly on AIM’s Board of Directors boiled over this week.

Board chair Chris Judson announced his resignation today (Thursday) after assuming the role in December, continuing the board’s high turnover rate. More than a dozen AIM members and former board members signed an open letter released today alleging financial mismanagement and calling for a special meeting. The letter has enough signatures to require the special meeting, according to one signing member, Lynn Borton.

“There were differing visions for AIM,” Judson writes. “The more expansive version is not achievable in the current financial environment, especially considering the recently proposed County budget for the upcoming fiscal year. In light of that, I have stepped down from the board so that others can take the next steps, which include responding to the audit and refocusing the organization on community broadcast. I wish them and the organization success in that endeavor.”

The audit, initiated this month, has tamped money flowing to AIM from cable subscription-generated revenue that the county, schools and organizations like AIM can tap into for capital expenses. It has so far received about $220,000 of the $368,000 in Public, Educational and Government (PEG) funds and recent social media posts by the organization urge supporters to tell the Arlington County Board this weekend to release the remaining funds.

“The freeze in funding from the County has created a crisis within our organization,” CEO Whytni Kernodle said in a letter published this week. “Without these funds, we are unable to meet our financial obligations, including paying our dedicated staff and freelance engineers and other teammates who are instrumental in keeping our organization running smoothly.”

Arlington County says it is pulling back until it wraps up this review.

“The Arlington County Board and County staff continue to monitor requests made by Arlington Independent Media for PEG funding, and are performing due diligence in reviewing previous expenditures before determining next steps,” county spokesperson Ryan Hudson told ARLnow in a statement.

This has prevented the build-out of AIM’s TV and radio stations, station manager Alvin Jones told ARLnow, which means more days without TV programming and more continuous lo-fi beats for viewers and listeners. He adds that the audit has made it more difficult to fundraise, which the county has asked the organization to ramp up.

“The plans, desires, and hopes of our bright future [are] now in limbo,” he said. “This limbo causes the newly founded contacts and relationships to allocate their funds to other organizations.”

In a letter that we are told blindsided AIM’s board, Kernodle blames members of the board who do not support her efforts to “amplify underrepresented voices and address critical issues” such as racial equity and climate change. These members went to the County Board to voice their discontent with her financial management, she writes.

“Consequently, the County has decided to freeze payments until they conduct an audit to address the raised concerns,” she said. “I want to assure you that there has been no misuse of funds within our organization. Rather, these issues stem from a difference in opinion regarding the direction of our initiatives and programs and the County’s desire to prioritize their own initiatives with PEG funds, which evades the spirit, if not the letter, of the FCC’s rules on these funds.”

The AIM members calling for a meeting, meanwhile, allege AIM is interpreting what is PEG-eligible too broadly to include operating costs it cannot afford. Citing the 2023 annual report, they say AIM reported spending $622,937 on employee compensation and $104,662 on office operations yet only netted $453,048 in funds that can go to operating costs such as salaries.

Revenue (left) and expenses (right) for AIM in the 2023 annual report (via Arlington Independent Media)

The letter notes there has not been an annual audit since October 2021 and 990s forms have not been filed “in a timely manner,” threatening its nonprofit status. Its 990 for the 2021-22 fiscal year was filed last November and its 2020-21 Form 990 filed in April 2022, per ProPublica.

“We believe AIM Members, Arlington residents, and Arlington County leaders have been misled about AIM’s financial health and well-being,” it says. “Social media messages in the last week suggest that AIM is imperiled because the County is withholding funds. In fact, AIM has been grossly mismanaged.”

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Arlington Independent Media in Clarendon (file photo)

Arlington’s local radio station has been playing the same music on repeat since December.

The continuous lo-fi beats, noted by listeners more than a month ago, are a result of aging equipment and financing delays complicating Arlington Independent Media‘s move into a new office building that is home to a transmitter critical to AIM’s operations.

The nonprofit community media outlet — which has TV and radio programming and offers media training courses — is mid-way through its move from its Clarendon outpost at the corner of N. Danville Street and Wilson Blvd, behind the Beyond Hello dispensary, to a new location at 2300 Clarendon Blvd.

Staff packed up and stored all AIM’s non-technical equipment in its new Green Valley outpost while its TV and radio broadcasting equipment sits in the lobby, awaiting contractors who can rewire it in 2300 Clarendon Blvd, a new space dubbed AIM Live!

It is a point of consternation for Alvin Jones, the station manager for the community media outlet’s radio station, WERA 96.7 FM.

“It’s been frustrating,” he told ARLnow. “I don’t get to hear, when I’m in my car, the great programming 50 producers are putting out.”

Former radio show producer Bennett Kobb says he has noticed the same music playing since Dec. 1, 2023. The beats are intended as a backup when interruptions arise, whether that is due to a power outage, a delayed DJ or problems with a station computer, he said.

“It is not permitted to broadcast ‘dead air’ for any significant length of time, that is, a radio signal with no content and no station identification,” he said. “Many radio stations have such arrangements in place… But this was never intended to go on for weeks as it has.”

As of Jan. 12, he had not heard of any communications to the public explaining what was going on. AIM did ultimately provide an update that listeners should expect the radio to go silent on Jan. 20, followed by TV on Jan. 24, as a result of the move. The post noted listeners “will continue to hear music through our transmitter on WERA 96.7 FM.”

The reason for the prolonged continuous loop is because the equipment that relayed microwave signals from AIM’s Clarendon location to the transmitter at 2300 Clarendon Blvd went down, says Jones. AIM will not need this equipment once it is set up in the same building as the transmitter. Jones likened fixing it before the move to upgrading the tires on a car just before trading it in for a new vehicle.

AIM originally had until Dec. 31, 2023, to move out but now predicts that full move-out will happen next week. The delays come down to finances, according to Jones and AIM CEO Whytni Kernodle.

They say they are waiting for Arlington County to approve the rest of a funding request from November for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) funds — subscription revenue that the county receives from franchise agreements with Comcast and Verizon.

These funds only cover capital expenses, which include hiring contractors to take down and rewire equipment.

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Arlington Independent Media in Clarendon (file photo)

This weekend, the Arlington County Board adopted a new agreement governing how Arlington’s public access station, Arlington Independent Media, can request funding.

AIM has a claim on Public, Educational and Government (PEG) funds that Arlington County receives as part of its franchise agreements with Comcast and Verizon. It competes with Arlington Public Schools and county government initiatives for this pot of money, which is dwindling as people end their cable subscriptions.

The new agreement establishes rules for requesting funds, a heretofore ad-hoc process. It requires AIM to maintain and present a detailed capital budget and make PEG requests only as part of the annual budget process, though emergency requests will be considered.

AIM has to provide a host of supporting documents for PEG requests as well as receipts demonstrating it is not using the funding on salaries, rent and utilities. The county reserves the right to audit the nonprofit’s records or require a third-party audit as often as necessary and will take back PEG funding if AIM uses it improperly.

The agreement was approved as AIM prepares to move its headquarters from Clarendon to Courthouse and, to stay afloat, has furloughed staff and will be selling equipment and memorabilia.

“AIM staff is currently on furlough throughout the holidays and thus only working on critical assignments,” the organization said in an email to supporters today, recapping its annual meeting earlier this month. “This has been structured to minimize producer impact, however we ask for your grace & patience while we transition to our new spaces.”

Periods of unpaid work are not a new issue, according to one source close to a former staff member, who had been asked to work without pay before.

Meanwhile, AIM’s current lease ends at 2701 Wilson Blvd, next to the Beyond Hello dispensary in Clarendon, is up on Dec. 31. The organization will make a new Green Valley satellite location, in a county-owned building at 3700 S. Four Mile Run, its home base until the Courthouse location is set up.

The new “AIMLive!” radio and TV broadcasting space in Courthouse is part of AIM’s goal to have a number of locations across Arlington, “with an eye on a new HQ sometime in the next 2-3 years,” the email said.

Despite the upheavals, Board President-elect Chris Judson remained upbeat in his remarks to supporters.

“This year presents a new beginning after a long effort to reinvent the organization,” he said in an email. “We owe tremendous gratitude to AIM staff for the extensive planning and execution that saw this plan to completion.”

During the annual meeting earlier this month, nonprofit leaders were frank about the organization’s financial status, detailing the furloughs and saying AIM was in survival mode. Still, they dismissed recent criticism over financial management from some people previously affiliated with AIM as a bad-faith attempt to defund the nonprofit.

They also addressed mixed public opinion about the role and importance of a primarily cable TV and radio-based nonprofit going forward, in an increasingly online world. Outgoing board president Demian Perry said he read the comments on ARLnow’s most recent article about AIM and they stung him but they were “nothing new.”

As for the new agreement governing PEG requests, AIM CEO Whytni Kernodle has told ARLnow in several interviews that she has pushed for this document to improve accountability — both for AIM and the county.

“They weren’t giving money to the ‘P’ or the ‘E’ and the PEG. So when I came on board, I recognized that… I’ve been asking for this memorandum,” Kernodle said. “What I’m saying to the county is, ‘You took us out, and now you’re not giving us money, and then you’re acting as though you don’t have to give us money when you have… an ethical obligation to your own public access center.”

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Arlington Independent Media in Clarendon (file photo)

(Updated at 12:20 a.m. on 12/7/23) After a 2-year search for new digs, Arlington Independent Media is on the cusp of moving from its long-time headquarters in Clarendon.

Next week, Arlington’s public access TV channel, community radio station and media training provider intends to sign a lease for space in Courthouse Plaza, says its CEO Whytni Kernodle. The building is owned by JBG Smith and home to Arlington County headquarters.

The cash-strapped organization is having to look outside its coffers to leave before its Dec. 31 deadline. The organization disclosed it had $31,000 in cash on hand during its November meeting, according to Lynn Borton, a former producer with AIM who was in attendance.

Kernodle requested $350,000 in funds that Comcast sets aside for expenses by public institutions, Arlington Public Schools and the county government. She also intends to fundraise another $25,000.

Once settled in Courthouse, Kernodle envisions an “On Air!” sign attracting passers-by to come and listen to music and watch AIM produce live shows. Next year, she wants to add public speaking events.

“The really great community media organizations are out in the community without waiting for people to come to their location,” she said. “We’re coming to the community as opposed to expecting the community to come to us.”

AIM will retain its rent-free second location in a county-owned building in Green Valley, for which it pays an “affordable license fee,” according to the county.

Kernodle says it was not a viable headquarters because it was too small and too far from the broadcast tower AIM uses in Courthouse for live shows. She also did not want to give up a North Arlington presence.

The move comes as the organization faces pressure to clarify its finances and rely more on fundraising, membership fees and advertising, and less on county funding, for its operational expenses.

AIM also faces existential pressures from consumers choosing streaming over cable, as fewer cable subscriptions means less funding for Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Access Channels — and fewer viewers.

Streaming, along with better technology and the dominance of social media, can also weaken the value of AIM’s core offerings — professional-grade equipment, studios and training for content creators — says Rodger Smith, a senior instructor in the George Mason University Department of Communication.

“Why go to AIM when I can be in my house and I can create a podcast that still sounds broadcast quality or I can produce video,” says Smith, who is also the faculty advisor for WGMU, the campus online radio station. “They have to offer a service that [people] can’t find anyplace else.”

Rocky finances and a forthcoming  governance document

AIM will be leaving a building where the rent almost sank it financially, but its woes are not behind it.

When AIM lost free rent at 2701 Wilson Blvd as part of a 2016 local cable franchise agreement, it racked up $80,000 in debts and nearly went under, even after the county paid its market-rate rent for several months, says Borton.

While serving as AIM’s president, she got collections officers to stop calling in 2019 and negotiated a lower rent. The organization has known it needed to move since 2021, when the new owner of 2701 Wilson Blvd opened the Beyond Hello dispensary next door, with plans to take over AIM’s space, Borton said.

All this time, the county tried to wean AIM from county support, proposing, then lessening, cuts after outcry from AIM staff and listeners.

The organization continues to face financial transparency challenges, as it is behind on its Form 990s. The IRS makes public these nonprofit tax forms so people can gauge an organization’s financial health.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Rosslyn-based Bitpath is working to roll out a 21st-century use for a midcentury technology: TV broadcasting.

The company says the architecture used by TV stations to broadcast their programming can also support the secure and efficient transmission of data. After all, TV and radio broadcasters and mobile phone service providers all send information wirelessly the same way, using radio frequency spectrum.

“We’re trying to be innovative and smart about how radio frequency spectrum is used,” said John Hane, the president of the startup.

The ability to repurpose broadcast TV for data services already has approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the broadcast airwaves. But broadcasters have yet to jump on the new tech because they are too small and too decentralized — relatively speaking — to do research and development and provide the services at a national scale, Hane said.

Bitpath was founded to do just that, he said. The startup is developing a platform comprised of a nationwide network of TV stations and aims to market it to companies that could benefit from better and safer data services. Bitpath is funded by big players in the TV industry, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group, which are keen to roll out this technology.

And Hane said Bitpath may be fully operational soon.

“We’re going to be launching services next year,” the president said.

The Bitpath logo (courtesy Bitpath)

This innovation to broadcast comes as more “smart” devices come online and are competing for fast, high-quality data streaming, while big mobile providers are rolling out 5G to support the rising data demand. But no matter how fast these networks get, the networks still have to transmit data through individual streams, which Hane said slows things down.

“The nice thing about the broadcast architecture, it never slows down,” he said. “That releases the cell network to be used for critical uses that can only be carried that way.”

People gravitate toward internet, even when broadcast makes more sense — for instance, streaming a big sporting event — because they are accustomed to the customization the internet provides. Bitpath’s innovations integrate the efficiencies of broadcast with the personalization of the internet, Hane said.

Consumers will one day see the tech in action in a variety of ways, he said. Regional TV stations will be able to air more personalized political advertisements or weather alerts. GPS resolution on devices will get more precise, improving a navigation app’s ability to pinpoint where a driver is and thus the quality of the directions. And security can be enhanced for certain applications.

“You associate TV stations with providing TV. That’s the majority of what they’re going to do, but a small amount of their capacity can provide amazing new services,” Hane said.

Hane says mobile providers were able to pioneer this territory because they were not as regulated as TV broadcasting is.

“Cell networks have grown so fast, because there’s been so much investment in them,” Hane said. “We use them for just about everything, even when we don’t realize that it doesn’t make the best economic sense.”

For Bitpath’s project to work, it has to make sure the hardware is consistent enough for e-commerce companies, car manufacturers and banks to buy in.

“They’re going to want fully developed services, and a platform that just works the same everywhere,” he said. “They’ll have one point of contact, one set of standards, one set of operations, and one point of support, but the capacity actually is comprised of stations all across the country owned by 20 different owners.”

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With Arlington National Cemetery closed to all visitors other than loved ones of the deceased, the cemetery’s annual Easter sunrise service will be broadcast online.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall announced the planned live stream (which will be hosted on its Facebook page) this morning:

The annual Easter Sunrise Service, hosted by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, will be live-streamed via Facebook beginning at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, April 12, from Arlington National Cemetery.

The Easter Sunrise Service has annually been held in the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater, but given the closure of the cemetery due to the COVID-19 threat and the fact that the amphitheater is undergoing renovations, this year’s service will be virtually live-streamed from the Tanner Amphitheater, the cemetery’s historic structure built in 1873 that served as the cemetery’s main public meeting space until the completion and dedication of the Memorial Amphitheater in 1920.

The Easter Sunrise Service is a non-denominational worship service and will begin with the call to worship at 6:30 a.m. by Chaplain (Colonel) Michael T. Shellman, the Senior Army Chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery.  The U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Thomas L. Solhjem, will deliver the Easter message. To maintain the required mandate for social distancing and to keep the number of personnel participating in the service under ten, the chaplains will be joined by just three members of the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” and a sign language interpreter.

According to one of the Easter Sunrise Service coordinators, the deputy chaplain at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Chaplain (Maj.) John Lee, the heart of the Easter message is hope.  “Everyone needs hope,” said Lee. “Human life is not perfect, we all have life challenges. Through resurrection you still have hope to start again.”

In case of inclement weather, the service will be live-streamed from the joint base’s Memorial Chapel located on the Fort Myer side of the base in Arlington, Va.

Please access the JBM-HH Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jbmhh/ at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, April 12, to view the live feed. You don’t need a Facebook account to view the service.

More on Arlington National Cemetery’s visitor restrictions, and a look at springtime at the cemetery, below.

Photo by Tim1965

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Morning Notes

Morning clouds over Pentagon City (photo courtesy Valerie)

ACPD Anti-DUI Event During Bar Crawl — The Arlington County Police Department will be holding an interactive anti-drunk driving event from noon to 5 p.m. during Saturday’s Halloween bar crawl in Clarendon. Part of N. Hudson Street will be closed as a result of the anti-DUI event. [Arlington County]

Dems Hoping for 100,000 Clinton Votes — Arlington Democrats are hoping their get-out-the-vote efforts result in 100,000 votes for Hillary Clinton in the county. Arlington could be the difference-maker in the race, determining whether Clinton wins or loses the key swing state of Virginia. In 2008 Barack Obama won 82,119 votes in Arlington. [InsideNova]

Live Election Broadcast — For the first time in our history, ARLnow is planning live video coverage of Tuesday’s election results. From about 7:30-9:30 p.m., assuming no technical difficulties, we will be broadcasting live from the local Democratic victory party at Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon. Expect analysis of the local election results and interviews with elected officials, candidates and civic figures from all sides of the political spectrum. The live video feed will be included in our election results post that evening.

Arlington Alert Charity Promotion — Thanks to a sponsorship from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, during the month of November a donation will be made to one’s local charity of choice when you sign up for emergency alerts via Arlington Alert. [Arlington County]

Fort Myer Commuter Fair — About 88 percent of those who work at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall travel to their jobs by themselves. To try to encourage more carpooling and transit use, the county-run Arlington Transportation Partners recently held a Commuter Fair at the base. [Pentagram]

James B. Hunter Award Winners — The winners of this year’s James B. Hunter human rights awards were just announced. The winners were: Tiffany Joslyn (posthumously); Joan Ritter, MD; Bridges to Independence; Edu Futuro; the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington; and Busboys and Poets in Shirlington. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Valerie

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WAMU 88.5 FM’s Kojo Nnamdi hosted his “Kojo in the Community” program in Arlington last night. The show just finished airing, and there were so many topics raised over the course of two hours that it’s hard to summarize everything. Look back over this web site for past four months and you’ll get a taste for about half of the discussion.

Kojo started out by talking about the past and present of Arlington. Long-time residents spoke in wonder of the pace of development over the past 20 or so years. Many people lamented that the development is hurting the area’s diversity by making it more expensive to live here. Despite Arlington’s push for affordable housing, it seems there are many who feel that not enough is being done.

There were other assorted complaints, but almost universally, those in attendance at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Parish said that they really like it here. Of course, many of the speakers were people who either work for the county or are part of community organizations — people who are in their positions in the first place because they are passionate about the community.

During the course of the discussion, one thing became clear: we in Arlington think we’re pretty smart. Multiple speakers referenced how intelligent the residents of Arlington are — which is empirically true, if you look at census data. But it was notable how many people raised it as one of Arlington’s key characteristics.

Another part of the program focused on the future of Arlington. From the redevelopment of Crystal City to revitalization and streetcars on Columbia Pike, to the ever-present change-of-government debate, the discussion was wide-ranging and all-inclusive, like a community planning stream-of-consciousness.

There was no shortage of residents with something to say during the two hour discussion. This community is vibrant and interesting (and, dare I say, intelligent) enough that Kojo could have probably been here for 20 hours and people would have still had new topics to raise. Thanks to WAMU for the giant pat on the back for Arlington. It is nice to live here, after all.

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Kojo Coming to Town

WAMU 88.5’s Kojo Nnamdi is coming to Arlington next week as part of the Kojo In Your Community series. He’ll be asking the question: “What makes Arlington, Arlington?”

The two-hour live broadcast will focus exclusively on Arlington and how it’s “a county of contradictions — a blue county in a red state; home to the Pentagon and communities of people from around the globe.”

The discussion will take place at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Parish (3304 Washington Blvd) from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15. The public is encouraged to attend and participate.

Photo courtesy WAMU.

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