Woman Arrested for Burning Flag Near W-L High — “A woman was arrested for burning an American flag on an overpass over I-66 in Arlington, police say. Kayla Caniff, 22, was charged with property destruction after police say she burned a flag attached to a chain link fence on the N. Stafford Street overpass, north of the Ballston area, at about 11:55 p.m. Thursday.” [NBC Washington]
County Website Goes Down — The Arlington County website was down for an extended period of time over Labor Day weekend. [Twitter]
Lucky Dog Takes in Pups from Hurricane’s Path — “While Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas — thousands of miles away in Arlington, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue plotted a rescue mission… The Carolinas are projected to be in the storm’s path and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is partnered with a shelter in South Carolina. So the organization’s volunteers met an animal control officer part of the way there to take 19 of the shelter’s dogs.” [WJLA]
APS to Review Westover Tree Plan — “Facing community unrest in Westover, Arlington Public Schools plans to take another look at the potential of saving more trees during construction of a new elementary school on North McKinley Road near Washington Boulevard. Following an Aug. 29 meeting with residents, the school system has directed that ‘before the trees are removed, we have the contractor stake out the site and renumber the trees.'” [InsideNova]
Energy Plan Concerns: Feds and Trees — Arlington County’s impending update to its Community Energy Plan, which sets a net zero carbon emissions goal, is an important step in fighting climate change, some advocates say, though additional action is still needed on the state and federal level. Others, despite supporting the goal, are concerned that achieving it may come at the cost of the area’s tree canopy. [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Arlington’s Many Advocacy Orgs — “My viewing [of the Netflix documentary ‘The Family’] got me thinking of the many newsmaking organizations — of all political stripes — that have long populated our suburb so close to the action of the nation’s capital. Wilson Blvd. and Crystal City alone are home to enough colorful groups to generate a slew of political and public policy contretemps.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Reminder: Be Careful on the Roads Today — It’s the first day of school, kids will be walking to school and there are new traffic patterns around some schools. Arlington County Police are conducting “a high-visibility traffic enforcement campaign in and around school zones and bus stops” today. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
Photo courtesy David Johnson
APS Students Now Can Identify as Nonbinary — “Students enrolling in schools in the District, Alexandria City, Arlington and Montgomery Counties now have the option to mark their gender as ‘X’ meaning nonbinary or unspecified. That’s in addition to male or female gender categories.” [WAMU]
Traffic Delays ACFD Response to I-395 Crash — “The I-395 incident happened shortly after 1 p.m. near the Duke Street overpass. Blunt said a crash left a woman trapped inside her car, but because of bumper-to-bumper traffic and other vehicles not moving out of the way, it took crews 24 minutes to respond when it would’ve taken them just eight minutes otherwise.” [Fox 5]
Pedestrian Tunnel Closure Date Set — “The 23rd Street tunnel is scheduled to close permanently on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The Virginia Department of Transportation will mobilize its contractor to begin deconstruction of the tunnel’s above-ground structures.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Nonprofit’s Student Program Deemed Success — “AHC Inc.’s college- and career-readiness program had a 100-percent high-school-graduation rate for participating students this year. A total of 24 students living in AHC’s local apartment communities participated in the non-profit housing provider’s readiness program.” [InsideNova]
Kiwanis Sell Lots of NJ Blueberries — “Those who purchased blueberries from the Kiwanis Club of Arlington earlier in the summer weren’t alone. Nearly 10,000 pounds of New Jersey berries were sold in the fund-raiser, netting nearly $10,000 that will be used to support grants aimed at serving children.” [InsideNova]
Storm Last Week Cast a Shadow — “A storm on the western horizon is casting a shadow on a storm on the eastern horizon. It doesn’t happen often. These are photos from last Wednesday.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Scooters Face Opposition in Alexandria — “Why scooters have drawn so much ire is among the most enduring mysteries of Alexandria ‘historic character’ activism. Alexandria’s history is replete with lots of vile historic character, like being a major center in the trade of enslaved people.” [Washingtonian]
Local affordable housing non-profit Wesley Housing Development Corporation is staffing up as it prepares to take on more projects.
“We’re at about 100 employees in total,” said the nonprofit’s President Shelley Murphy. “This time last year we were about 80ish.”
Most of those employees have been added to the nonprofit’s property management team, which manages buildings throughout Northern Virginia. The rest of the new hires have been added to Wesley’s real estate department (around 10) and a housing stability team (3) that connects tenants with social services to help them stay housed.
One big project in Arlington that necessitated new hires was Wesley’s redevelopment of the Red Cross site at 4333 Arlington Boulevard in Buckingham. The planned mixed-income community, dubbed The Cadence, will feature 97 affordable apartments and 19 market-rate townhomes. Murphy expects to break ground on the project next year.
Recently, the nonprofit added a senior project manager and a senior construction manager to the Buckingham development, as well as a real estate development associate, per a press release earlier this month.
Previously, Wesley also developed a 12-story, mixed-rent rate Union on Queen building near Rosslyn.
Today, Murphy said Wesley owns 2,000 affordable housing units across the region, with about 690 units located in Arlington.
“By adding three new team members to the real estate development team, we will be well-equipped to continue addressing the affordable housing crisis in this region,” said Murphy in a statement.
While Wesley officials did not mention Amazon’s forthcoming HQ2 in Arlington as an impetus for its growth, the new headquarters is expected to exacerbate the county’s longstanding struggle to replenish its affordable housing stock.
Amazon announced last month that it would donate $3 million to local affordable housing and support services. Additionally, the tech and retail giant would match employee donations to local housing nonprofits — including Wesley — up to $5 million through the end of September.
When it comes to Amazon, Murphy acknowledged HQ2 speculation has raised property values and rents which could make her work more difficult. But overall, she said the company’s arrival portends good things for the county.
“The fact is that the 25,000 jobs that they’re adding over the course of 10 years are the same jobs that we lost with BRAC a few years ago,” she said, referring to the thousands of jobs Arlington lost due to Department of Defense restructuring that started in 2005.
In her opinion, the heated debates over Amazon’s potential to shrink Arlington’s affordable housing stock have been healthy for the community.
“All the sudden, our leadership is talking about it, they’re investing in it, there’s a regional conversation,” said Murphy, who commended the Arlington County Board for investing in housing projects and supporting a variety of affordable housing initiatives.
This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
By Tara Palacios
Nonprofits are the fabric of our community.
The impact of their work directly and indirectly touches everyone in Arlington each day. We are grateful for the tireless work of such dedicated organizations that seek to help older adults, young people, the homeless, people of diverse backgrounds and affordable housing programs, to highlight a few areas of nonprofit work.
Arlington County works with several nonprofit organizations through our Community Development Fund each year to ensure a maximum reach for nonprofit providers is varied and reflects the needs of our community. The process to apply and the notice of funding availability (NOFA) for the County’s upcoming fiscal year (2021) is nearly upon us.
If you’d like to learn more about the process to apply, come network with other nonprofits in Arlington and hear from Jennifer Owens President of the Arlington Community Foundation who would like to cordially invite you out to brunch on July 23 at Arlington Economic Development from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. To register please click on this link.
Nonprofit work never ends — even in summer. We hope you can join us on July 23!
Police Operation in Ballston — Arlington County Police say they arrested a wanted individual in Ballston Wednesday evening, in front of the DARPA building on N. Randolph Street. Officers used a “diversionary device” — witnesses described it as a flashbang grenade — during the operation, a police spokeswoman told ARLnow. “One suspect was taken into custody without incident,” ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. Additional details were not immediately available. [Twitter]
‘Perfect Friday Night Date in Rosslyn’ — “A round of miniature golf is one of summer’s pleasures, whether putt-putting past pirate statues at a course by the beach or playing in a regional park closer to home. It works equally well as part of a date night or a group outing with friends. And it’s definitely not the kind of thing you’d expect to find popping up in the plaza outside a Rosslyn office building.” [Washington Post]
Beer Hall Nears Opening in Ballston — The opening of Bronson Bier Hall in Ballston, the successor to A-Town Bar and Grill, is about a month away. Most of the major interior construction appears to have been completed. [Instagram]
Amazon Hosts LGBT Reception — “A special reception [was] hosted by Amazon at a location in the heart of its massive planned expansion was held at Freddie’s Beach [Bar in Crystal City] to greet the area’s LGBT community.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Subsidies for Late Night Commuters — “The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has kicked off an effort to support late-night workers who travel when transit service is not available. Since July 1, qualified workers – such as those in the hospitality or health-care industries – have been eligible to receive a $3 subsidy toward travel on Lyft for trips taken between their home and workplace between midnight and 4 a.m.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Community Foundation Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington Community Foundation awarded new college scholarships totaling more than $540,000 to 72 students who will attend college next year. An additional 105 scholarships totaling $281,000 were renewed for returning college students, for a total of 177 recipients.” [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Two Virginia organizations are looking to help as Arlington braces for immigration raids in the wake of President Trump’s deportation threats.
The Falls Church-based Legal Aid Justice Center is collaborating with the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations to train people on what rights the county’s immigrant community has and how they can help. The legal aid organization will be hosting the free event at the Syphax Education Center (2110 Washington Blvd) from 3-5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday).
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, the legal director of the Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program, said the event is aimed at teachers, service providers and “basically anyone who serves the immigrant community who is wondering what to tell people right now.”
Attendance is free but people are asked to RSVP to on Facebook.
The Justice Center will review what to do if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stops someone or knocks on their door, as shared here by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey during a recent Board meeting criticized Trump for issuing “a vague threat” on Twitter.
“If this latest escalation proves to be real, rest assured that Arlington does not participate in federal immigration enforcement and will not be assisting in any mass round-up or deportation of families or the separation of yet more children,” Dorsey said. He urged anyone who feared they would be targeted for deportation to visit the county’s website with resources for immigrants and to contact the Legal Aid Justice Center if they had legal questions.
In response to a tweet from President Donald Trump regarding immigration, and in an effort to provide context and comfort for the community, the Arlington County Board issued a statement during Tuesday's Board Meeting. pic.twitter.com/GS6FzjwzLH
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 19, 2019
Last week, Trump announced that ICE would deport “millions” starting Saturday. Despite the president calling off the threatened raids, ICE agents raided several homes and businesses in D.C. over the weekend and detained at least two parents, according to the Washington City Paper.
After the initial announcement “the level of fear in the immigrant community spiked to early 2017 levels, which is to say, extraordinarily high,” Sandoval-Moshenberg said.
After Trump took office in 2017, immigrant families in Arlington began withdrawing children from food stamps, stopped filing domestic violence protection orders in court and kept kids home from school out of a fear of deportation, according to Sandoval-Moshenberg. When the Legal Aid Justice Center organized the “Know Your Rights” events two years ago, attendance was up — between 100 and 200 people.
Sandoval-Moshenberg noted it’s too early to tell if families are reacting similarly now but, “our phone is ringing off the hook, that’s for sure.”
Drivers may soon see an old school bus tooling down Wilson Blvd and delivering books, thanks to funding from an Arlington-based nonprofit.
Read Early and Daily (R.E.A.D.) recently received a $50,000 ‘A Community Thrives’ national grant from the Gannett Foundation. R.E.A.D. secured the grant by pitching a traveling book bus that would bring books to people in Arlington who have trouble accessing them.
R.E.A.D. founder Jennifer Sauter-Price said she was “over the moon” about the grant in a social media message to ARLnow.
“Our hope is the Book Bus will be a bookstore for all families,” she said. “Another component while we sell books is to educate customers about book deserts and the inequities of book ownership and how it affects school readiness.”
Sauter-Price got the idea of a book bus from a popular mobile toy shop she helped run as part of a lending library in Austin, Texas. She now wants to travel around Arlington with books that feature diverse characters and stories about acceptance. In total, she has distributed 1,100 free books to about 250 children in Arlington since starting the nonprofit last year.
“We are proud of the work R.E.A.D. has done to enhance the Arlington, Virginia community,” said Andy Yost, Gannett’s chief marketing officer.
“At Gannett, our mission is to connect and empower our readers to make a difference in the communities they are a part of,” Yost said. “Through A Community Thrives, we are further fueling our mission and purpose.”
A Community Thrives has raised more than $6.5 million since 2017 for projects benefiting communities nationwide.
R.E.A.D. currently distributes free children’s books to gathering places around Arlington, like Mr. Moore’s Barbershop on Lee Highway, where young readers are encouraged to talk about the book they’re reading while they get a haircut.
People also buy books directly from the nonprofit’s website, or sign up for monthly subscription book boxes, which Sauter-Price says help fund the books she gives away for free — a business model she hopes to continue with the bus, too.
Now Sauter-Price is hoping to buy a decommissioned school bus and transform it into a bookmobile.
“The most important thing is to make sure it’s waterproof and temperature controlled for the books,” she said. “Then to create a fun children’s bookstore vibe inside that will be engaging for kids. Then the not-fun stuff: insurance, gas, Wi-Fi, licenses. My hope after all this is we will have funds leftover for more books.”
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Sauter-Price
The gift is being handled by the Arlington Community Foundation, which announced the commitment this morning.
“The gift will create a fund to support programs that maintain and create housing options for low-income individuals and families,” the foundation said.
In a press release, the foundation notes that Arlington has lost nearly 90 percent of its market rate affordable housing over the past two decades. Many expect real estate prices to continue to rise and price out lower-income individuals and families, particularly with Amazon bringing tens of thousands of mostly high-paying jobs to its new HQ2 in Arlington over the next 10 years or so.
Amazon also announced today that it would match employee donations to select housing- and homelessness-related nonprofits in and around Arlington, including AHC Inc., the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, A-SPAN, Carpenter’s Shelter, Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Doorways.
“Amazon will match the donation one-for-one, up to $5 million, through September 30,” the company said. Amazon is also making donations and employee matches in the Seattle area, home to its first headquarters.
More from the Arlington Community Foundation press release, after the jump.
People are more interested in the news these days. Part of that is due to the political climate, but part of it is that there’s an abundance of news and news-like content online, which often makes it difficult for readers to know whom to trust.
“The political situation we’re in now has actually made people much more consciously aware of journalism, and what good journalism is and what it isn’t,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance (NMA), a Ballston-based nonprofit that advocates for the news industry. “Journalism is much more central to people’s consciousness in public conversation than it was certainly three or four years ago, 10 years ago.”
The Trump presidency has certainly accelerated the public’s focus on journalism, according to Chavern, but more people are having a harder time knowing where their news is coming from.
“There’s always been conspiracy theories,” Chavern said. “They were usually delivered to you by a crazy uncle over the dining room table. And that was clearly different from what was on TV and what was in the newspaper and in the driveway. Those are three clearly different sources of information. In the internet blender, all that stuff is delivered exactly the same way and it puts a big burden on readers to pay attention to where things come from. And what stands behind them.”
NMA’s mission, along with its partner organization the American Press Institute (API), is to promote good journalism through advocacy, education and training.
“Journalism plays a central role in a democracy,” said Jeff Sonderman, API’s deputy executive director and executive vice president. “We want people to be informed of what’s happening both in their government and more broadly in their community. We want people, in any given place, to be able to have a shared conversation with each other about what’s happening here. What do we want to happen in this community? How are we making decisions together? And journalism is really the medium that facilitates that, that both creates a platform for it and also shapes it into a responsible platform.”
Before moving to its Ballston headquarters (4401 N. Fairfax Drive) in 2012, API hosted training seminars for journalists at a facility in Reston. As fewer and fewer newsrooms had the money to pay for these seminars, API shifted its business model toward online and in-person training, and research.
“We’re really interested in supporting changes in journalism that make it more innovative and use new technology and storytelling in data and science, but in the service of making those organizations sustainable financially and otherwise, so that they can continue to exist and do the work that’s really are the core of what we’re working on,” Sonderman said.
With accusations of “fake news” running rife through the industry, API has done a lot of research about mistrust of media in order to inform its newsroom training. It’s also partnered with the Trusting News organization to help newsrooms adopt practical, everyday strategies for instilling trust in readers.
“Trust is the foundation of the relationship that any journalist wants to have with an audience,” Sonderman said. “It’s difficult to do all these critical things about serving democracy and informing citizens if there isn’t a foundation of trust to build that on.”
“Newsrooms need to be more transparent about their process. Something as little as adding a sidebar to a story explaining why the news outlet thought it was important to cover the story and how the reporter researched it can go a long way toward establishing a trusting relationship with readers,” Sonderman said.
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
VC Firms Eyeing Arlington, D.C. — “Two venture capital firms that have invested mostly in tech companies in the middle of the country are keeping their eye on Greater Washington in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s decision to place its second headquarters in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]
Owl Rescued from Middle School — “Last week, [the Animal Welfare League of Arlington] got a call from a local middle school that an owl was trapped in their boiler room. Officers Toussaint and White responded and were able to safely remove the owl.” [Facebook, Twitter]
Five-Vehicle Crash on Route 50 — At least two people were reported injured after a five-vehicle crash on Route 50 yesterday afternoon. [Twitter]
Wild Press Conference Near Rosslyn — “Pro-Trump operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman… hosted a bizarre press conference in the driveway of Burkman’s Arlington, Va. home, while being frequently interrupted by noise from nearby garbage trucks.” [The Daily Beast]
Arlington Org Office Attacked in Kabul — The Kabul, Afghanistan office of Crystal City-based non-governmental organization Counterpart International was attacked yesterday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack. [CNN, Counterpart International]
Nearby: Silver Diner Coming to Alexandria — Silver Diner is seeking permission to open a new location at 4610 King Street, in a new development in the City of Alexandria, near Arlington’s Claremont and Fairlington neighborhoods. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman