More than 100 painted rocks commemorating victims of gun violence seem to have gone missing from a garden in Courthouse.
The Arlington chapter of Moms Demand Action suspects someone may have stolen most of the 150 rocks in “Hope Garden,” a memorial garden located near Courthouse Plaza.
“Sometime in the last week, most of the rocks were stolen. Now about 25 remain,” says Susan Koch, the group leader, adding that she has “no idea who did it or why” and that members are “heartbroken.”
The garden near the intersection of N. Courthouse Road and 15th Street N. was dedicated in 2019. Since then, Koch says many group members have painted rocks and placed them in the garden to honor friends and relatives affected by gun violence, either through tragic loss or enduring trauma.
Apart from the stolen rocks, the rest of the garden remained untouched, she said.
Koch said the group plans to ask for the community’s support to restore the garden but she remains wary of future incidents occurring.
“We’re going to paint more rocks for sure to try and make up for the ones that were stolen,” Koch said. “But…how do we protect them from not being stolen again?”
Founded in 2012 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Moms Demand Action has emerged as a platform for some 10 million members to advocate for statewide and national gun safety measures.
Over the last decade, the local chapter has worked with elected officials, including Del. Patrick Hope (D) and State Sen. Barbara Favola (D), on gun safety laws, including a series of bills, such as universal background checks and “Red Flag” laws, passed by the General Assembly in 2020.
The group also discusses gun safety with schools and community organizations and works with local nonprofits, such as Doorways, which provides resources to victims of domestic violence.
“We have a program called, ‘Be Safe,’ which basically tells people how important it is to store their guns safely,” Koch said.
She emphasized that the group is not “anti-gun.” Instead, its members advocate for gun safety education as a crucial aspect of weapon ownership.
“We don’t want to take people’s guns away. We just want them to be safe,” Koch said.
Koch said the group might go to the police and file a report. Whatever the outcome, she noted the incident would not “break” them.
“We will persevere,” she said.
This afternoon, Arlington County will officially debut its “renovated and reimagined” headquarters in Courthouse.
To celebrate the conclusion of the $4.8 million project, it is hosting an event and ribbon cutting ceremony today (Wednesday) from 3-6 p.m. at the Ellen M. Bozman County Government Center, located at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
“As part of the celebration, Arlington will officially open the new full-service Courthouse Library, a new Arlington Welcome Center, and a new Permit Arlington Center, and the USS Arlington Community Alliance and the Arlington Historical Society will unveil a full model of the USS Arlington,” the county said in a press release.
Commissioned a decade ago, the USS Arlington honors the 184 people who died on 9/11 as well as the local and regional first responders who responded to the attack.
“Additionally, the open house will feature government services, an introduction to Rank Choice Voting, NARCAN training, public art projects, music, children’s story times, crafts, and more,” the release said.
Arlington County Board members, County Manager Mark Schwartz, Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh, a Ukrainian musician and the county’s poet laureate are set to be in attendance.
Interior renovations began in September 2021. The county also added conference rooms and renovated the lobby, second and third floors, the ninth-floor break-room and parking garage-level common areas.
Funding came from a $23.7 million tenant improvement allowance that was provided by property owner JBG Smith when the county renewed its lease in 2018. The county used part of its tenant allowance on a contract to design the interior changes.
A branch of Arlington Public Library housed in the lobby of Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse will reopen next week.
On Monday, March 13, the library will debut a new name and new amenities added as part of $4.8 million in renovations to the government office building. Interior renovations to some floors of the building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse began in September 2021.
“The new Courthouse Library, formerly known as Plaza Library, will feature contemporary furnishings, a new children’s book and media collection, and space for library programming such as storytimes and author talks,” Arlington Public Library Communications Manager Anneliesa Alprin tells ARLnow.
“Courthouse Library, a full-service branch, will feature the ‘Grab & Go’ express book collection and a ‘Library of Things,’ including do-it-yourself tool kits and handy gadgets,” she continued.
The renovations were funded through a $23.7 million tenant improvement allowance that was provided by landlord JBG Smith when the county renewed its lease in 2018.
Starting Monday, patrons can place holds and use the book drop then, Alprin said.
Courthouse Library will have the following hours:
- Monday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Tuesday: 12-8 p.m.
- Wednesday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Sunday: Closed
— Jane Fiegen Green (@janefgreen) March 6, 2023
There will be a grand opening for the county government building on April 12 from 3-6 p.m.
“We’re opening the new full-service Courthouse Library, debuting a new Arlington Welcome Center and new Permit Arlington Center,” the county said in a release. “We will also be joined by the USS Arlington Community Alliance and the Arlington Historical Society to unveil a full model of the USS Arlington. Join us for a festive afternoon with an open house featuring government services, music, children’s story times, crafts, and many more surprises. All ages are welcome.”
The county also added conference rooms and renovated the lobby, second and third floors, the ninth-floor break-room and parking garage-level common areas.
The opening comes ahead of planned community engagement effort to discuss how the library system can best to meet the needs of residents.
“In the second half of 2023, the County Manager’s Office and Arlington Public Library leadership will engage with the community in longer-term strategic discussions about these issues and how to best provide library services in a changed and changing environment,” County Manager Mark Schwartz wrote in his proposed 2023-2024 budget.
These conversations will likely cover how to prioritize the competing needs of new locations and established locations, how to build a sustainable budget for library collections and how to staff libraries reliably. Arlington libraries have stayed afloat via “an over-reliance on temporary employees,” Schwartz says in the budget.
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A major rally is being planned for later this week in front of the county government headquarters, in a show of solidarity with recently-unionized Starbucks employees.
The president of the AFL-CIO and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) are both expected to attend, among others.
The rally is one of ten across the county, organized as part of a National Day of Action by Starbucks Workers United. It’s set for this Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. outside of the Bozman Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
Organizers say Liz Shuler the president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the country, will be there and speaking. Plus, a number of state and local elected officials are planning to attend, including Beyer, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D- 49).
Several County Board members are also expected to attend, including Christian Dorsey, Matt de Ferranti, and Takis Karantonis.
Speeches are planned from Shuler, Beyer, and several regional union leaders — including Arlington and Fairfax County teachers union presidents, who will say they will be rejecting Starbucks gift cards as holiday presents for this year in protest.
THIS FRIDAY (12/9): Stand up against Starbucks Corporate bullies at the @SBWorkersUnited Solidarity rally at the Bozman Government Center Plaza in Arlington, VA at 5pm! Pizza party afterwards at Fireworks Pizza! #SolidarityIsBrewing
RSVP: https://t.co/lzpahW0ABE pic.twitter.com/91kQEjaFZs
— Metro DC DSA Labor Working Group (@mdcdsa_labor) December 5, 2022
This “Day of Action” is also meant to ask Starbucks to stop “bullying” unionized employees and to highlight its workers’ right to organize.
“The purpose of the Day of Action is for the entire community to tell Starbucks to stop its union-busting and respect its workers’ right to organize,” says a press release.
Dec. 9 marks the one-year anniversary of the first Starbucks union election victory in Buffalo, New York. Since then more than 260 stores have voted to unionize, involving more than 7,000 workers.
Over the last year, the coffee behemoth has been hit with hundreds of unfair labor practice charges, including retaliatory firings, closing union stores, and withholding benefits from employees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating more than 300 of these accusations.
On Nov. 9, Starbucks employees at the Courthouse Plaza location voted to unionize and join Starbucks Workers United. It was the second D.C.-area Starbucks to do so. Union members told ARLnow at the time they were seeking better pay, more consistent hours, and uniformly enforced rules and regulations.
Employees went on strike shortly thereafter.
“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” employee and union member Sam Dukore said at the time. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”
Since the strike several weeks ago, “the company is still not coming to the bargaining table” a union spokesperson told ARLnow.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) The employees at the Courthouse Starbucks have gone on strike, days after unionizing.
The reason for the strike, per Starbucks employee and union member Samuel Dukore, is that the company is not negotiating “in good faith” when it comes to a contract.
“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” Dukore told ARLnow, outside of the Starbucks at Courthouse Plaza, near county government headquarters. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”
Unionized employees are asking for better pay, more staffing, and more concern over the health and safety of workers.
RED CUP REBELLION.
OVER 100 STARBUCKS STORES ARE ON STRIKE TODAY. #redcuprebellion
— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) November 17, 2022
Earlier this month, on Election Day, Courthouse employees voted to become the third D.C.-area Starbucks to unionize (behind one in D.C. and in Merrifield) and the first in Arlington. The employees have joined Starbucks Workers United.
The Starbucks in Courthouse Plaza remains open. It currently appeared well-staffed with un-unionized employees and managers, and a greeter at the door welcoming customers.
At 8 a.m. on Sunday, a man will embark on a 42-day walk from the Pentagon to Shanksville, Pennsylvania to the World Trade Center in New York City to honor the first responders who risked their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The journey is personal for Frank Siller, who is traversing six states and more than 500 miles in memory of his brother, New York firefighter Stephen Siller, who died responding to the terrorist attack. The surviving Siller plans to arrive in Manhattan on Sept. 11.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack, as well as that of Tunnel to Towers, the organization Siller founded in 2001 to support first responders. The name is in memory of Stephen’s walk through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel — while carrying 60 pounds of gear — to reach the Twin Towers and save those in the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
Arlington County announced a number of road closures to facilitate Siller’s trip on foot.
- S. Hayes Street between S. Fern Street and 15th Street S. will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to noon
- Street parking along the stretch of S. Hayes Street will be restricted
- Rolling road closures will be implemented as Siller walks from Arlington Fire Station No. 5 at 1750 S. Hayes Street to Courthouse Plaza and then into D.C.
In addition to the long walk to remember, Tunnel to Towers will mark the somber anniversary through charitable acts, a concert and a run through NYC.
Photo by Marc Hermann/MTA New York City Transit via Flickr
A local non-profit is dedicating a garden in Courthouse in honor of the victims and survivors of gun violence.
The Arlington chapter of Moms Demand Action (MDA) is dedicating the garden on Friday (June 7) from 7-8:30 p.m. The event will begin with a rally at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd) and then proceed to the garden, where a formal dedication will take place.
“We’re planting hope and creating something hopeful,” said Celia Slater, who handles communications for MDA. “We’re planting to honor the people we love who’ve been killed. We plant seeds for lasting change.”
Speaking at the dedication will be Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th), MDA lead Beth Fine, and Arlington Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who will be reading a proclamation from the Board.
Also speaking will be Carmen Lodato, whose mother was shot and killed in 2014 in her Alexandria home.
The dedication is part of The Plant Hope initiative of the annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day/Wear Orange event, which takes place each June to honor the more than 100 people who are killed daily by gun violence.
“It’s awful what happened in Virginia Beach,” said Slater, referring to last Friday’s shooting spree, in which a gunman killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building. “Everybody should be able to live and work without being afraid of being shot at your desk.”
Members of the public donated the initial flowers for the garden, which include sunflowers and other pollinator-friendly blossoms. Come fall, MDA will plant more flowers, with the hope of transforming the plot into a butterfly garden, Slater said.
Children, students and other volunteers painted hundreds of rocks, which will be placed around the garden.
“With so many school lockdowns, we wanted to make sure that we can show families and children that there are positive forces at work to end gun violence,” Slater said.
Photos courtesy of Moms Demand Action
Courthouse Jewelers at Courthouse Plaza is now closed “permanently,” according to a tipster and online business listings.
The shop on 2200 Clarendon Blvd bought and sold jewelry and was known for its watch repairs.
“It was a venerable institution,” said the tipster. “Bet they changed thousands of watch batteries for county staff over the years.”
As of today (Thursday) the inside of the small shop is empty. The only light left on is the white, block-lettering sign on the awning outside.
Arlington’s newest fitness studio Next Phase Fitness & Strength Training, has launched its Signature Circuit class of creative and effective weekly workouts that minimize members’ time while maximizing their effort to reach their personal goals.
The inspirational team of dedicated coaches of Courthouse’s Next Phase Studio guide members through a strategically designed program that rotates through six different phases built off the four modalities of strength: Power, Hypertrophy, Strength and Endurance. Each week combines two of these modalities into the phases you see below, to consistently keep your body guessing and drive results.
The efficient, no-wasted-time 50 minute workouts employ TRX straps, kettlebells, Versaclimbers and indoor sleds among other equipment drive strength progress in a challenging — but not daunting — workout to keep the body progressing and the mind stimulated.
- The Endure Phase introduces heavyweight exercises to improve overall strength + lightweight exercises to build muscle endurance.
- The Grit Phase emphasizes lightweight, explosive exercises + moderately weighted toning exercises.
- The Contrast Phase adds different explosive movements + opposing, heavier exercise to improve power and continue to build strength.
- The Elevate Phase focuses on toning + endurance work to stimulate the growth of lean muscle mass.
- The Drive Phase offers more lightweight, explosive movements + endurance exercises in what NP calls their Cardio and Deload Week.
- The Gains Phase is all about building muscle and combines heavier strength + moderate toning exercises to trigger strength gains while improving lean muscle tone.
Even if you have never trained like this before, the beauty of consistent change allows you to find which strength modality, or combination of two, is most effective on YOUR body — all without the steep costs of hiring a personal trainer to find out for you.
Next Phase Fitness & Strength Training offers a number of membership packages and class times to accommodate individual budgets and busy personal schedules. Personal training and customized corporate wellness programs are also available.
Work is wrapping up on improvements to one of Courthouse’s trickiest intersections, with some night paving set to close a few streets this week.
The county is putting the finishing touches on some changes to sidewalks and bus stops around the intersection of Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, near the Courthouse Metro station. Starting last night (Tuesday), workers began paving the area and the county expects the work to last through Friday (Sept. 7).
Arlington officials are advising drivers to avoid the area where Clarendon Blvd meets N. Veitch Street and 15th Street N. during the paving, set to run from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through the rest of the week.
Workers permanently closed the lane turning from Clarendon Blvd. to 15th Street N. in March, and have spent the ensuing months widening the sidewalks in the area and adding a new bus stop to accommodate additional Arlington Transit service in the area. The county hopes the project “will improve pedestrian safety, circulation and access in and around Courthouse Plaza,” per its website.
Construction was originally set to wrap up sometime this winter, but the county says it’s now “nearing completion, ahead of schedule.”
Organized by Arlington members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the rally will feature speeches from local leaders and voter registration with Arlington NAACP volunteers.
“I see rallies like this as an opportunity to raise awareness, to think about the daily violence that happens that doesn’t make the newspapers, but is something that impacts all of us,” Beth Fine, the local lead for Moms Demand Action, told ARLnow.
The event is one of 19 that will take place throughout the state this weekend, according to the Virginia Moms Demand Action Facebook page, and is among more than 350 planned across the country.
Arlington County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey and School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen will both speak at the rally alongside Arlington Poet Laureate Katherine Young and student activists Karina de Leede and Chloe Fugle.
“I will be speaking about the School Board’s support for Wear Orange, our concern for the safety of our students and staff and the importance of student voices,” Kanninen said.
The Wear Orange movement began in 2013 when friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton wore the color after Pendleton was shot and killed. Everytown for Gun Safety, a national organization that advocates against gun violence, began promoting the campaign nationally in 2015.
But Fine notes that the movement also has plenty of support locally, including from the County Board. In May, the Board declared June 1 National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Arlington, a decision that Fine believes “sets the right tone.”
“It’s important too that they know we are out there supporting people who are on board with this message,” she added.
Over 200 businesses in the Arlington area will also post fliers or offer specials to customers wearing orange this weekend, according to organizers. Alto Fumo, Ambar, Busboys & Poets, Cafe Pizzaiolo and New District Brewing Company are among the local businesses expected to run Wear Orange promotions this weekend.
Ultimately, Fine said community members who attend the rally should feel empowered to make change.
“I think what they should should come away [from] it with is the idea that they can actually effect change,” Fine said. “They will have some ideas as they leave about what they can do to make a difference.”
Photo via Facebook