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Legacy of Fire Station No. 8 to Be Discussed Saturday

The legacy of Arlington’s Fire Station No. 8, and how to honor it, will be the subject of a community discussion this weekend.

The event is scheduled from 3-4:45 p.m. on Saturday (April 14) at the Arlington Central Library auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street).

During segregation Fire Station No. 8 was the only Arlington station staffed by African Americans.

The Fire Station 8 History and Legacy working group is hosting the discussion, “to share memories, perspectives and ideas on how to recognize, emphasize and honor the history and legacy of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park Volunteer Fire Department and Fire Station No. 8,” according to an Eventbrite page.

The group is due to submit recommendations for ways to honor the fire station’s legacy by late May.

A new, four-bay station is set to be built at 4845 Lee Highway, where the existing Fire Station No. 8 stands. The design process is scheduled to begin this summer.

Photo via Arlington County 

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With Spectrum Theatre Closing, National Chamber Ensemble Prepares For New Season in New Venues

For the first time in its decade-long history, the National Chamber Ensemble will play concerts at venues other than Rosslyn’s Spectrum Theatre (1611 N. Kent Street), starting next month.

Arlington Cultural Affairs Division director Michelle Isabelle-Stark said the county’s lease on the theater expired in July, and they took “immediate steps” to help find new spaces in which the group can perform.

So instead of performing at the theater, which it has done since its founding in 2007, the NCE will perform its five 2017-2018 season concerts at the Gunston Arts Center (2700 S. Lang Street) and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd).

The ensemble performs chamber music — classical music composed for a small group of instruments in a more intimate setting.

NCE’s season of concerts begins on Saturday, October 14 at Gunston Arts Center with a program called, “Night in the Garden of Spain” featuring a celebration of Spanish classical music and dance.

For NCE leaders, finding space similar to the Spectrum proved challenging.

“It was hard to find a space comparable to the Spectrum, because the Spectrum is a perfect size for chamber music,” said NCE artistic director Leo Sushansky. “Most of the other auditoriums in Arlington, they’re very large school auditoriums. So the Gunston Arts Center is probably the closest to the Spectrum in size, but it was only available for two concerts.”

The Spectrum Theatre is set to be torn down during the first phase of the Rosslyn Plaza Project along with two apartment buildings and four office buildings.

In its place would be 2.5 million square feet of space across five buildings, including 1.8 million square feet of office, 550 residential units, 200 hotel rooms and 45,000 square feet of retail space. And the space once occupied by Artisphere in the same building is set to be a co-working space, opening this fall.

But Sushansky said while having to play in new venues incurs extra costs from rentals, transporting instruments and the like, it will help them show off their talents to more people.

“I’m hoping it’ll bring us into different neighborhoods, bring attention to a different audience,” he said. “It will help bring about some interesting collaborations.”

But the closure of the Spectrum left Sushansky to bemoan the lack of dedicated performance spaces in Arlington outside of the county’s schools.

“The county has been very supportive all these years, and they continue to be so,” he said. “It’s just there’s a problem in Arlington with not enough performance spaces. There’s really no concert hall in Arlington. The Spectrum was the only one. Now that has gone and all that are left are school auditoriums.”

Isabelle-Stark said that such groups can be creative with their venue choices, as it gives them different environments to perform in and introduces their work to more people.

“As they say when one door closes another one opens,” she said. “[Alternative] venues for performance, such as churches, shopping malls, and airports, to name a few, provide opportunities for performers to stretch creatively and cultivate new audiences.”

Photo No. 1: courtesy photo. Photo No. 3 via Google Maps.

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‘Little Saigon’ Fading Away in Clarendon

Back in the 1970s, Clarendon was known as Little Saigon, a hotbed of Vietnamese businesses. Now, only a few holdovers remain.

Reminders of Clarendon’s Little Saigon past continues to fade. Minh’s Vietnamese Restaurant, a favorite of some foodies, closed last month. While newer Vietnamese restaurants have opened recently — Four Sisters Grill in Clarendon, Pho Deluxe in Courthouse — there’s no denying that the character of Clarendon has changed significantly over the past decade.

The original reason for the disappearance of most of the original Vietnamese businesses in Clarendon was the construction of Metro’s Orange Line up Wilson Blvd. After the Clarendon station opened in 1979, the neighborhood started to be redeveloped and rent prices skyrocketed. Before the Metro expansion, real estate rental costs were as low as $1.50-$5.00 per square foot. After its opening, prices rose as high as $25-$30 per square foot in some buildings.

The construction of Metro was another contributor. Many businesses fled Clarendon because they thought the construction would deter potential customers. By the 1990s, much of the Vietnamese community had left Clarendon en masse for Falls Church and the Eden Center.

Out of the dozens of Vietnamese businesses that once existed in Clarendon, one restaurant has remained over the past few decades: Nam-Viet. The restaurant has been family owned and operated since the 1980s and it continues to attract loyal customers to its slightly off-the-beaten path location on N. Hudson Street, not far from the CVS Pharmacy and Don Tito.

The restaurant has hosted well-known public figures like Bill Clinton and for years, it hosted an annual Tet dinner honoring American prisoners of war from the Vietnam War.

The restaurant’s new manager, Richard Nguyen, has witnessed a lot of changes after growing up in the area helping to run the Nam-Viet with his parents.

“Clarendon has gone through many metamorphoses,” he said. “It used to be a general collection of small businesses to newer commercial shops opening. I remember growing up there was a flea market where Northside Social is. It’s gotten younger, but  at the same time the residents have gotten older and aged with us. Regardless of the change they’ve embraced Arlington as home especially the natives of Arlington.”

Richard remains optimistic for the future Vietnamese restaurants.

“I think Vietnamese restaurants are here to stay they just have to stick to traditions and keep to culture as much as they can,” he said.

Video by Omar DeBrew. Some photos in the video were sourced from Arlington’s Echoes of Little Saigon Project.

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Arlington Is Seeking Its First Poet Laureate

Logo via Arlington CountyD.C. has one. So does Prince William County, Va. and Takoma Park, Md.

To date, perhaps surprisingly, Arlington has not had one. But that’s about to change.

Arlington County is seeking applicants from individuals seeking to become the county’s first-ever poet laureate. The position only pays $1,500 per year — partially from donated funds — but it does come with the lofty title. The poet laureate’s two year term is set to begin July 1.

“The poet selected Arlington’s inaugural laureate will be an advocate for the literary arts, create works of special civic significance, hold public readings, officiate at special events, carry out community engagement programs and help judge Arlington’s annual Moving Words Poetry competition,” the county’s Cultural Affairs division said in a press release.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and must reside in Arlington. Information on how to apply — the deadline is May 12 — is available on the Arlington Arts website.

The full county press release, after the jump.

Where art thou, first official poet of the County?

Applications are now being accepted-April being National Poetry Month-with the final deadline of May 12 at 5 p.m. The laureate’s two-year term will begin July 1.

The poet selected Arlington’s inaugural laureate will be an advocate for the literary arts, create works of special civic significance, hold public readings, officiate at special events, carry out community engagement programs and help judge Arlington’s annual Moving Words Poetry competition.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, reside in Arlington and have established at least a five-year record of achievement in writing and publishing verse. Full eligibility requirements and terms are available online.

“Poetry is a dynamic form, taking the language of its time and pushing its expressive limits. And social media is changing the way we use language,” said Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of the Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development (AED). “It’s now easier than ever to write and share poems.  Our new Poet Laureate will work with our community to awaken the poet in all of us.”

Regional neighbors with their own poet laureate include the District of Columbia, Prince William County and Takoma Park, Md. Virginia has had a state laureate since 1936. The United States has had an official poet through the Library of Congress since 1937.

Submissions for Arlington laureate selection will be reviewed by award-winning poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri, host of the Library of Congress podcast “The Poet and the Poem.”

The County’s Poet Laureate program is managed as a partnership between AED’s Cultural Affairs division and Arlington Public Library.

Laureate to receive honorarium

The laureate will receive an honorarium of $1,500 a year, provided through regular Cultural Affairs programming funds and the generosity of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.

Arlington loves poetry

Arlington has long embraced poetry as a civic art form. The Moving Words competition, now in its 16th year, places winning poems by local poets on Arlington Transit ART buses so riders can travel well beyond their intended destinations.

For National Poetry Month, AED’s Cultural Affairs division and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization have teamed up to conceive “The Poet is IN” pop-up booths. The program puts noted regional poets in public places like farmers markets and libraries, to create free, customized poems for customers right on the spot.

With the new Poet Laureate program, Arlington becomes even more of a haven for the lyrical arts.

In the words of the Bard: “And as imagination bodies forth/The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen/Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing/A local habitation and a name.”

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Asian Dance Showcase This Weekend

Dance Asia performers (photo via Dance Asia website)The holiday celebrations are starting early, with Dance Asia‘s fifth annual “Colors!” holiday showcase taking place this weekend.

On Saturday (November 1) from 7:00-9:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Auditorium (125 S. Old Glebe Road), 11 dance groups featuring more than 100 performers will present dance pieces designed around a particular color. The dancers — who range in age from 5 to 60 years old — designed the performances to reflect their culture, traditions and identities.

A couple of goals for the event are to showcase the diversity of Asia and raise awareness of the intricacies of Asian dance forms. The performers come from diverse backgrounds, including East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Pacific. There will also be featured guest performers of Latin American and African heritage.

Before the dancing begins, starting at 6:00 p.m., visitors can browse through a mini craft market to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

This cultural free event is for people of all ages, and advanced tickets can be reserved online. Donations are welcome.

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Morning Poll: Are Tall Brown Boots the New Brown Flip Flops?

Tall brown boots spotted at a beer festival in Courthouse (photo courtesy @SeenInClarendon)Arlington is noted for being home to many male aficionados of brown flip flops.

On Sunday, one observer of local culture might have found the female equivalent of “dudes in brown flip flops” — women in tall brown boots.

At the first annual Arts and Craft Beer Festival in Courthouse over the weekend, Twitter user @SeenInClarendon saw — and photographed — many such pairs of boots, which might seem more appropriate on someone riding a horse than on someone downing a lager and a lobster roll.

Is this a trend that’s especially prevalent in Arlington — a la brown flip flops? Or is it not Arlington-specific? We’ll let you decide.

Photo courtesy @SeenInClarendon

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Carnaval de Oruro Parade Planned Sunday

Several streets will be closed near Shirlington on Sunday for the Carnaval de Oruro parade.

The parade is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 a.m. on S. Four Mile Run, between George Mason Drive and Walter Reed Drive. Based on a 2,000+ year-old religious and cultural tradition in Bolivia, the parade will feature music and folk dancers.

Police are planning the following road closures on Sunday:

  • Right lane of southbound Walter Reed Drive near S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Westbound lanes of S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Westbound traffic will be directed onto the Four Mile Run Drive access road.
  • Right lane of northbound S. George Mason Drive near Four Mile Run Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Temporary “no parking” signs will also be posted along the parade route.

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Morning Poll: Hipsters in Arlington?

People walking in BallstonAccording the real estate information firm RealtyTrac, Arlington’s 22203 ZIP code is the 7th-most “hipster-friendly” area in the United States.

A hipster ZIP code is generally defined by RealtyTrac as an area where residents are young and lots of people rent and take public transportation. The 22203 ZIP code, the second-highest ranking ZIP in the D.C. area next to Alexandria’s 22304 ZIP code, includes the neighborhoods of Ballston, Virginia Square, Bluemont and Buckingham.

Arlington’s 22201 ZIP code, meanwhile, ranked 23rd on the list. That ZIP code includes Courthouse, Clarendon, Lyon Village, Lyon Park, and parts of Ballston and Virginia Square.

No ZIP codes in the District of Columbia made the rankings.

RealtyTrac’s methodology seems questionable at best, ignoring the more nuanced cultural factors that define a “hipster.” That said, which Arlington locale would you consider to be the biggest hipster hotbed?
 

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Festival to Celebrate African American History and Culture

Arlington, Virginia logo (small)Arlington is celebrating Black History Month with dancing, food and art at the 21st Annual Feel the Heritage Festival next month. The event will take place at the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) from noon-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 9.

Avon Dews will provide live music and the Soul in Motion Players will offer an African dance and drumming performance. Kids can enjoy face painting, balloon art and making art projects while adults check out the vendors.

Anyone interested in taking in the history of the High View Park neighborhood can join in a cultural walk starting at 2:30 p.m. The group will stop at significant locations along the route, where walkers will be encouraged to share memories about the neighborhood, its residents and its traditions.

There will be a raffle during the event and the winner will receive two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in Africa that Ethiopian Airlines flies. The $5 tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the event.

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Bolivian Cultural Night Comes to Arlington

Arlington residents can enjoy a musical taste of Bolivia without even leaving the county, as the Comité Pro Bolivia will be holding a Bolivian Cultural Night on Saturday (July 21).

As a non-profit cultural organization now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Comité Pro Bolivia will showcase eight large Bolivian dance and music ensembles. Each performance will vary from Suri Sicuris, which is traditionally performed before the ostrich (suri) hunt, to the Tinku dance of strength and agility.

The event is free, open to the public and will begin at 8:00 p.m. It’s being held at the Lubber Run Amphitheater at North Columbus and 2nd Street North (two blocks north of Route 50). The amphitheater is wheelchair accessible.

Bolivians make up 20 percent of the approximately 33,000 individuals in Arlington’s Hispanic community. Numerous Bolivian dance groups have been active throughout the county since the 1990s. The Comité’s stated goal is to focus on the dancing traditions which help bring together the Bolivian Community in Arlington and to also create a feeling of belonging and home.

The event and is co-sponsored by Arlington Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Folklore Studies Program at George Mason University. For more information, call 703-228-1850 or visit www.arlingtonarts.org.

Photo courtesy Arlington Cultural Affairs

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Festival Will Celebrate African-American Culture

February is Black History Month, and Arlington is holding an event to celebrate African-American culture. The 20th Annual Feel the Heritage Festival is taking place next Saturday, February 25.

The whole family can enjoy the free event at the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper St) from 12:00-5:00 p.m. Visitors can taste soul food and browse vendor displays while being entertained by various types of music and dancing teams, in addition to a comedian. Children’s activities such as arts and crafts, face painting and balloon art will keep little ones occupied.

On the more serious side, the “Hall of History” will display photos and artifacts from Arlington’s historically black neighborhoods, along with African Americans in the Civil War. There will be a WalkAbout of the Hall’s Hill/Highview area. Visitors can also take advantage of health services, from free screenings to flu shots.

Attendees can buy raffle tickets to win a vacation getaway. The winner receives two round-trip tickets to one of 40 destinations in Africa.

Parking at the event will be limited, so free shuttles will run from Glebe Elementary School (1770 N. Glebe Rd) and the Carver (1415 S. Queen St) and Charles Drew (3500 23rd St S.) Community Centers.

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To Do This Weekend: Caps Fan Fest & Colombia National Day

On a humid, 90 degree day, a trip to Ballston to celebrate a sport that’s played on ice could make for a nice diversion. If you agree with that statement, then Saturday’s Caps Fan Fest at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 North Glebe Road) may be for you.

The event will kick off at 8:00 a.m. with a free open skate, followed by a development camp scrimmage at 10:00. There will also be airbrush artists, face painters, moon bounce, obstacle course, street hockey and an equipment sale. Brooks Laich and “select draft picks” will be signing autographs after the scrimmage.

If hockey isn’t your thing, but eating and dancing is, you may want to check out the 22nd Colombia National Day Celebration.The event will feature Colombian folkloric dance and musical groups as well as a variety of Colombian food. Some of the performers will be flown in from Bogota and Miami for the occasion.

The celebration is taking place from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Gunston Arts Center Theater One (2700 S. Lang Street). Tickets cost $15 for anyone over the age of 12.

For more great events this weekend, check out our events calendar.

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