George Mason University is set to receive a $25,000 grant from Arlington County to study Black demographic shifts and migratory trends in Arlington.
The Fairfax-based university, which has a campus in Arlington, proposes to develop a “database of research that documents Black displacement, migration, mobility, and the legacy of the Black diaspora that remains today in Arlington County,” according to a county report.
GMU envisions the database serving as a “significant learning source for Arlington and lead to future meaningful artistic projects focused on African American history,” the report says.
A team comprising GMU’s University Curator, Don Russell, visual artist Veronica Jackson, as well as several university librarians and historians, will sift through hundreds of primary documents to create the database.
[M]aps, oral histories, census data, photographs, historic Black newspapers, travel guides, land surveys, Black businesses, real estate transactions, churches, cemeteries, schools, and related examples of Black cultural life in Arlington County, historically and contemporarily.
The grant is part of Arlington’s Historic Preservation Fund. It was established in April 2022 to support individual and community-led projects that preserve “Arlington’s history, built environment, or cultural heritage” per a county webpage.
In December, the County Board approved a form for applicants seeking either a $25,000 non-capital grant or a $100,000 capital grant. This June, GMU secured a grant earmarked for projects such as historical research and educational outreach.
The university, however, says it cannot agree to the terms of the grant as written, and is requesting a few changes. These changes are set to go before the County Board for approval this weekend.
GMU requests new wording clarifying it, as a public university, is not responsible for the county’s legal fees if the county faces a lawsuit. It also requests the ability to use the funds for an extra 90 days after the current deadline of June 30, 2024.
The university expects about $8,000 would go toward personnel costs, nearly $6,000 toward travel expenses and nearly $11,000 for general costs, including equipment, supplies and an artist fee for Jackson’s work.
Eleven other organizations and people received grants for capital projects — such as restoration, cleaning and repairs — and non-capital projects, says Historic Preservation Program Coordinator Cynthia Liccese-Torres.
She told ARLnow the county plans to share more details “once all of the grant agreements have been finalized and signed by all parties.”
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ALRnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza.
When Covid hit, online learning became the new normal for students across the globe.
Not everyone fared well, however, and some students struggled to stay focused and understand the material, says Arya Rashidian, the CEO of a local online tutoring company, TutorDudes.
The company was founded to combat these downsides to online learning. It offers tools and tutors tailored to individual student needs, such as adding closed captioning and visual cues to lectures for visual learners.
“With this platform, I wanted to create something that isn’t a quick fix, but something that is going to promote real change for online learning,” Rashidian said.
TutorDudes can be used by any type of learner and some students with disabilities, including those with mild autism, Rashidian said. He added that tutors are trained to accommodate different learning styles and in how to improve the online learning experience.
“The company was made so that everyone, regardless of the type of learners that they are can be accommodated by our virtual platform,” he said.
Rashidian, who graduated from George Mason University this past May, took on TutorDudes from its original founders.
After taking charge of the startup, he revised the company’s mission, services and structure to improve and expand the brand. Rashidian said that without the help of his team none of their success today would have been possible.
The startup has expanded and now offers enhanced tutoring services through TDULTRA.com, which can be accessed through a TutorDudes account.
Rashidian said he hopes to continue this growth so that universities and schools can also adopt the services TutorDudes provides. To do this, Rashidian said he and his team are looking for investors to fund this brand and technology expansion.
“We want to make this company the best it can be,” Rashidian said.
George Mason University is mulling a future expansion of its Arlington campus.
To realize that long-term goal, this April the university purchased an $8.25 million piece of property across the street from the its Mason Square campus in Virginia Square, according to county property records.
The acquisition is located at 3300 Fairfax Drive, in a 1960s-era office building that currently has some law and insurance agent offices, as well as a pilates and yoga studio.
In the immediate future, the university does not have plans for the site.
“These properties are strategic investments that provide security and flexibility for the future of the Mason Square Campus,” GMU media relations manager John Hollis told ARLnow.
“In the near term, Mason expects to continue current or similar operations to the existing tenants, while longer term opportunities include potential developments in support of Mason’s faculty, students, and mission,” he continued.
Although the statement alluded to more than one property, Hollis did not specify any other properties recently acquired by the school.
The Arlington campus of the Fairfax County-based university holds the university’s School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, economics, business and arts departments, the Antonin Scalia Law School and the Schar School of Policy and Government.
Mason Square is currently in the midst of a major expansion, with the under-construction Fuse building set to host labs, classrooms, an innovation center and retail spaces, among other uses. The university estimates the building will be substantially complete in May 2025.
Should the newly-acquired building be redeveloped in the future, it would join a bevy of other projects in the area, including the redevelopment of the nearby YMCA, St. Charles Catholic Church, the Joyce Motors site and the former Silver Diner location.
With Arlington getting some warmer weather, George Mason University is opening up the plaza of its Arlington campus to a series of free activities and events.
The weekly programs are hosted at Mason Square Plaza at 3383 Fairfax Drive, in Virginia Square. The weekly events started today (Monday) and are scheduled to continue through May 12.
In addition to the pre-scheduled events, the plaza also offers public amenities like cart of board games and a cart of art supplies available Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Other upcoming events include:
- CreativiTEA (Every Monday from noon to 1 p.m.): A crafting workshop with weekly activities ranging from rock painting to poetry and Star Wars-themed Bingo
- Outdoor Yoga with Mind the Mat (Every Monday from 5-6 p.m. and Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.): A yoga class. Attendees must bring their own yoga mat and water bottle.
- People of Mason Square (Every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m.): A weekly interview session with “a different personality of Mason Square”
- Mason Square Market (Every Tuesday from 2-6 p.m.): A small, locally-sourced marketplace with fresh produce and other goods
- Tuesday Dance Party with Ferocity Dance (Every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m.): All levels of dance experience and all ages are invited to a weekly hour-long dance class, with types of dance ranching from merengue to swing
- Zumba Power Hour (Every Wednesday from 9-10 a.m.): A cardio dance class; all ages, fitness levels and abilities are welcome
- Tiny Stage (Every Wednesday at noon and every Thursday from 5-6 p.m.): A twice-weekly acoustic music session in the plaza, with attendees encouraged to relax and enjoy the music
- Beyond Bullet Points (Every Thursday from noon to 12:45 p.m.): A weekly gathering that invites “bright scholars, local thinkers, and change-makers to share what they are doing, researching, and dreaming”
- Barry’s Bootcamp (Every Thursday from 6-7 p.m.): A high-intensity workout. All levels are welcome, all that’s required is a yoga mat and a water bottle.
The woman who wrote a law banning discrimination based on natural hairstyles, adopted in 19 states, will be coming to Arlington to talk about anti-Black bias in the legal profession.
Wendy Greene, architect and advisor on the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2022” (CROWN Act), will be joined by other lawyers and legal scholars at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School tomorrow (Thursday) to tackle whether the jobs in the nation’s top law firms, known as “big law,” are less attainable for Black people who wear their hair in afros, dreads or braids.
The two-hour “Black Hair, Big Law” symposium sponsored by George Mason’s Black Law Student Association will feature talks by American Bar Association President Deborah Enix-Ross and other lawyers and scholars from across the U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean. Attendees can RSVP online and attend in-person at the law school (3301 Fairfax Drive) or via Zoom.
The symposium kicks off at 11 a.m., with lunch starting at noon for in-person attendees. Per a press release, it will include:
- A distinguished panel of knowledgeable, relatable, and trailblazing speakers
- Compelling original quantitative graduate research black attorneys and their hair
- Poignant, thought-provoking videos about attorneys and judges wearing their hair natural
- Representation matters: 100 Black TV and Film Lawyers from the controversial “Amos & Andy” to the new CBS legal drama, “All Rise.”
All attendees will receive an anthology of nearly 100 first-hand experiences from Black attorneys, paralegals and law students describing discrimination they faced, or expected to face, because of their hair.
Here are some anecdotes:
“Depending on the court, I [used] to change my hair,” says one woman, per the press release. “As a black woman in many jurisdictions, the court assumes I am either a party to the case or the court reporter. So I would style my hair differently and in fact, dress differently to set myself apart or rather to attempt to set myself apart.”
“”I was told to change my hair when I entered law school. In law school, when in mock trial competitions my hair was judged and questioned by my coaches. Despite it all, I am who I am. My hair is a part of who I am. Thankful for my Howard University experience that helped solidify that being Black is not a badge of shame. Neither is my hair.”
Black people have long been discriminated against for wearing afros, braids or dreads, event organizers say. Some student dress codes forbade them, some people have been fired for wearing dreadlocks and women who wear their hair curly have been stigmatized as choosing a less professional style.
In the face of discrimination, Black men could choose to wear their short, but for many women, their choice is between keeping it natural or straightening it with chemicals.
This alternative, popular for decades — despite the uncomfortable side effects, such as sores — has recently been linked to uterine cancer. It prompted lawsuits to be filed in California, Illinois and New York, according to the online law blog Above the Law.
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020 prompted a renewed focus on racism, particularly against Black people, within “big law,” where a strong majority of lawyers are white, the American Lawyer reports.
The law publication’s annual “Diversity Scorecard” for 2022 showed the greatest annual increase in the percentage of minority attorneys in the industry since 2001.
The total number of minority attorneys rose to 20.2%, up from 18.5% last year and 17.8% in 2020. The number of minority partners also climbed, reaching 11.9%, up from 10.9% in 2021, and the percentage of minority nonpartners hit 26.7%, up from 24.6% in 2021.
Meanwhile, another law publication, JD Supra, reports that 18% of all attorneys in the nation’s 200 largest law firms, ranked by revenue, are “ethnically diverse” — up a percentage point from 17%, where it sat from 2019-21.
Despite the recent progress, advocates say new lawyers will not stay if big law does not address systemic issues, such as when firms protect powerful partners accused of bullying, harassment or racial bias.
Revamped Clarendon Restaurant Reopens — “With a new menu that offers Mexican food for all, Buena Vida Gastro Lounge is reopening its newly renovated restaurant in Clarendon this week, serving lunch and dinner and brunch on weekends. Buena Vida, at 2900 Wilson Blvd., also has a new executive chef, Jaime Garciá Pelayo Bribiesca, and a new décor created by CORE architecture+design.” [Patch, Instagram]
Group Wants More from Amazon — “While Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF) welcomes a new Amazon presence at PenPlace, we urge county leaders to strike a fair deal in this site plan review. As structured now, Arlington would trade world record bonus density — more buildable space — for unequal community benefits from Amazon.” [Press Release]
Art Exhibit Opening at GMU in Va. Sq. — “A new exhibition of art commissioned by the British Council to interpret an academic and policy report by a professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government will be unveiled April 29 at Mason Square (formerly the Arlington Campus). The event is open to the public and features a keynote address from the ambassador from Tanzania and a panel discussion with representatives from international development, public diplomacy, and art agencies.” [George Mason University]
It’s 4/20 — Clear throughout the day. High of 60 and low of 39. Sunrise at 6:26 am and sunset at 7:51 pm. [Weather.gov]
Rent on the Rise — “Living in Arlington, Virginia has its perks. ‘Young. It’s vibrant,’ said Arlington resident Robert Buck. ‘That’s why I moved here.’ However, those perks come at a price and for many, that price comes with a roommate… Arlington isn’t getting any cheaper according to a new study from Apartment List that says while rents are getting higher across the DMV they have gone up the most in Arlington by 16% over last year, compared to 10% in D.C.” [WUSA 9]
New Subdivision Gets New Name — “Toll Brothers has chosen a name for the luxury subdivision it is building on the site of the historic Febrey-Lothrop House, demolished one year ago. The winner? The Grove at Dominion Hills. The company was considering suggestions to name the new streets its 40 new homes will require off McKinley Rd. and Wilson Blvd. for the former landowners Febrey and Rouse. But on learning of Arlington’s street grid (new streets would have to be three-syllable “M’s” and N. 9th St.), the firm opted not to seek an exception from the county board, I’m told.” [Falls Church News-Press]
APS on Spring Break — “Arlington Public Schools wishes you a wonderful, relaxing and safe Spring Break! APS schools and offices will be closed for the break, April 11-15, and Mon, April 18 for Grade Prep. We will see you back on Tue, April 19!” [Twitter]
Safety Push for S. Carlin Springs Road — “A dangerous stretch of road in Arlington is prompting community advocates, civic groups, and neighbors to request the county implement new safety measures. Arlington County Public Schools Parent, Gillian Burgess, says there are three schools along South Carlin Springs Road, and the traffic, as well as the congestion, makes her worried about children’s safety.” [Fox 5]
GMU Hosting ‘Yappy Hour’ Tonight — “Bring your pup and get to know the Arlington community at Mason Square! Bring your furry friends and get your paws on some doggie treats, puppachinos, toys, belly rubs, and more! It’s time to paw-ty!” [George Mason University]
Blood Drive This Afternoon — “Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar is partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services to host an Arlington Community Blood Drive on Monday, April 11. An Inova Bloodmobile will be parked in front of Fire Works, near the intersection of Clarendon Boulevard and North Adams Street, from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on April 11.” [Patch]
Lt. Gov. Sears Coming to Arlington GOP Dinner — “The Arlington and Alexandria Republican committees yesterday announced that the lieutenant governor would be the guest of honor at their joint Lincoln/Reagan Dinner, to take place May 19 in Alexandria. Tickets are $100 to $250. No doubt Sears will guarantee a sold-out event. People like a celebrity, and with no offense to the other two statewide officeholders in Virginia, it is Sears that has that status at the moment.” [Sun Gazette]
This Place Is for the Birds — From the Twitter account Bunnies of Arlington County: “Not a bunny, but birds appear to have nested in the A of the Oracle building in Court House.” [Twitter]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:38 am and sunset at 7:42 pm. [Weather.gov]
George Mason University has ceremonially broke ground on the quarter of a billion dollar expansion of its Arlington campus.
At an event held yesterday (Wednesday), ceremonial shovels picked up ceremonial dirt to mark the beginning of construction of Fuse at Mason Square, a new $235 million building in Virginia Square that will house the university’s new School of Computing.
In fact, work had actually already begun a few months earlier on the 345,000 square foot facility. It’s the main piece of the quarter-billion-dollar expansion of the Arlington campus, which was recently renamed “Mason Square.”
The groundbreaking, which was one of this week’s events celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary, was marked by a litany of speeches, food, and shoveling of dirt.
In attendance were a number of Arlington officials including Board Chair Katie Cristol, County Manager Mark Schwartz, Arlington School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen, Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, and Arlington NAACP President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr.
Cristol spoke of her pride that this state-of-the-art facility will have a home in Arlington.
“The vision of Fuse [reminds] me of a term I learned in a laboratory in St. Louis — serendipitous collisions. What an evocative image of the kind of partnerships and encounters that are going to happen here at Fuse at Mason Square,” she said. “Between cutting edge facilities, labs with futuristic devices, and human talent of educators and entrepreneurs as well as this rising generation of creators. The serendipitous collisions that occur on this campus are going to shape our community in ways that we can only imagine today.”
Back in the early 1970s, the late Arlington developer John “Til” Hazel acquired the Virginia Square property that included the former Kann’s Department Store in order to house for GMU’s new law school. The property eventually became a larger graduate school campus, and the former Kann’s building is being replaced with the new computing school.
Hazel died last month at the age of 91. His son James revealed at the ceremony that his dad grew up “not a few blocks away, not down the street. It was right there at [N.] Kenmore [Street] and Wilson Blvd.”
Hazel shared other memories of spending time in this neighborhood before GMU moved in.
“If my mom wanted to take us to get new clothes for school, we came to our grandparents. We parked the car, we came over to Kann’s, got the clothes, and saw the monkey display,” he said, to some laughter. “But best of all, we got pizza from Mario’s Pizza.”
The ceremony was also supposed to include an announcement of a “landmark tenant” at the new building, but that didn’t happen, with GMU officials telling ARLnow that the announcement was delayed.
The $235 million building will house faculty from the Institute for Digital InnovAtion as well as the university’s new School of Computing. Also being planned is an atrium, a 750-seat theater, a public plaza, and a below-grade parking garage.
About 60% of the available space will be occupied by the university, with the remaining 40% aiming to be leased out to tenants and private companies.
Fuse at Mason Square is expected to be completed in the summer of 2025.
George Mason University is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the Arlington’s campus $250 million expansion this week with a concert, a new photo exhibit, and groundbreaking.
Beginning today (Monday), the Northern Virginia-based university will be hosting a week full of events at its Arlington campus in Virginia Square on Fairfax Drive, now known as Mason Square, culminating with an outdoor concert from a local cover band on Friday night.
There is a new photo exhibit opening in Van Metre Hall tomorrow called “Profiles of Arlington” that recognizes those “who are working to impact their community, their region, and the world.”
On Wednesday, there’s set to be an official groundbreaking ceremony for the quarter of a billion dollar expansion of George Mason’s Arlington footprint. That includes the 400,000 square-foot building set to be the centerpiece of the efforts, which is being called Fuse at Mason Square.
The building will house faculty from the Institute for Digital InnovAtion as well as the university’s new School of Computing. There will also be an atrium, 750-seat theater, a public plaza, and a below-grade parking garage. The building is estimated to be completed in the summer of 2025.
While construction actually started at the beginning of the year, Wednesday’s ceremony may include some news. The university previously said it would occupy about 60% of the space with the remaining 40% likely being leased to private companies.
The groundbreaking ceremony press release promises an “announcement of a landmark tenant.”
Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol and Virginia’s Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad are both scheduled to be in attendance at the groundbreaking.
Thursday marks GMU’s 50th anniversary. The university officially broke off from the University of Virginia and became independent on April 7, 1972.
Then, on Friday, Mason Square will host an outdoor concert event featuring the David Thong Band which will play cover songs from across the decades. The event asks attendees to “dress your favorite decade,” with the best costume winning a prize.
Virginia Square-based Rocklands BBQ, Shrlington’s New District Brewery, and Captain Cookie & the Milkman (which is opening an outpost in Courthouse this spring) will also be there selling food and drinks.
The event is free.
Next week, noted philosopher Cornel West is set to speak at GMU’s Arlington campus about the current state of American democracy, human rights, and critical race theory.
Famed philosopher Dr. Cornel West will be speaking in Arlington next month.
West is coming to George Mason University’s campus on Fairfax Drive in two weeks, on Thursday, April 14. As the event listing notes, he’ll be in conversation for two hours with the school’s director of the Race, Politics, and Policy Center Dr. Michael Fauntroy and speaking on “the current state of American democracy, human rights, and critical race theory.”
West will also be taking audience questions.
The event is in-person, free and open to the general public. Registration is required, though. Masks are required and attendees need to a Covid health survey prior to coming.
The event at Van Metre Hall Auditorium featuring the well-known author and political activist was first announced back in October. Last summer, West resigned from Harvard University where he was a professor, saying the Ivy League school was experiencing a “intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of deep depths.”
GMU is in the midst of transforming its Virginia Square campus, having started on a $235 million expansion earlier this year. The expansion will include a new 400,000 square foot building that will house the university’s new School of Computing and faculty from Institute for Digital InnovAtion. The building is expected to be completed by the summer of 2025.
An official groundbreaking ceremony is planned for next week.
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
County Prepping New Tree Study — “Arlington leaders may take their next crack at guesstimating the number of trees in the county – a topic not without political as well as environmental ramifications – early in 2023, if all goes according to plan… estimating the cost at $100,000 to $150,000.” [Sun Gazette]
New Name for GMU Arlington Campus — “George Mason University announced today that its Arlington Campus will be renamed Mason Square as the new centerpiece of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for multi-disciplinary talent and business development, as well as a civic and cultural destination. Also being announced is Fuse at Mason Square, the name of the new technology-forward building that is the heart of Mason’s commitment to growing Northern Virginia’s next-generation workforce. A groundbreaking ceremony for Fuse at Mason Square will take place April 6.” [Press Release]
FBI Warns of ‘Sextortion’ of Boys — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents involving sextortion of young children. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.” [FBI]
Nature Center Staffing Slowly Returning — “Don’t expect hours of operation at Arlington’s two county-government natures centers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, or maybe ever, but local leaders say that doesn’t mean nature programs won’t have priority in coming years… [the] hope for the coming year was to use funding for temporary workers to increase hours at the nature center, including perhaps evening hours.” [Sun Gazette]
Church Wins Climate Award — “Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ’s commitment to fighting climate change over the past 15 years landed it a top award in the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge. Rock Spring, on Little Falls Road in Arlington, was named the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category in the challenge, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to motivate people of faith to take steps to address climate change.” [Patch]
Alexandria Schools Propose SRO Extension — “Alexandria City Public Schools is requesting an extension of its controversial school resource officer (SRO) program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that the extension is part of the reimagining of the $800,000 program.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 7:26 pm. [Weather.gov]