The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art will kick off the new year with the work of Laurel Nakadate, a Boston-based artist who traveled across the country to photograph familiar matches she discovered through DNA testing. 

Nakadate’s work, which is presented in partnership with George Mason University, will be on display at the institute from Jan. 22 through May 29. The artist focuses self-representation, identify formation, representation and loneliness. 

Her DNA-based series — “Relations” — began in 2013. It also features direct relatives of her mother — who died shortly after Nakadate completed work on that series. Each photograph features individuals at night with a single light source at a location of their choice.

“I realized at a certain point it wasn’t just about the people, but it was about these landscapes. It was about standing in these landscapes and night. And it was about the sort of ways that I could still be surprised by photography,” Nakadate wrote in a statement.

Tephra will also offer a first look at a series in which technicians edited photos of Nakadate’s mother with her newborn son, who was born shortly after Nakadate’s mother died. 

The arts institute offered a quick look at upcoming exhibitions as well:

Travis Childers (Feb. 10-June 28): “The component parts of one of Childers’ artworks are often recognizable manufactured objects, such as pencils or model railroad trees and figurines–even his works on canvas are comprised of images lifted from printed newspaper using scotch tape. Through a process that errs on the side of obsession, he assembles works that are deeply influenced by his personal experience of the Northern Virginia suburban landscape and his memories of a more rural childhood. In reference to a collage made from hundreds of skies excerpted from the background of published newspaper images, the artist reflects, “There is just something reassuring about seeing so many horizon lines.”

Danni O’Brien (July 14-Oct. 11): Danni O’Brien is fascinated by the history of the plastics boom that took place in the mid-twentieth century. Looming in the corner of her studio, an overburdened wire shelf serves as a library of collected refuse. Boxes and bins of found and scrapped objects are sorted intuitively by criteria such as texture, shape, material, and color. O’Brien speaks about her process as “caring for the objects” as she meticulously integrates them into monochromatic wall mounted works, whose compositions are drawn from diagrams similarly loosened from their original contexts as instructions for home renovations, sewing, or understanding human anatomy.

Dominic Chambers (Fall 2022): Chambers’ most recent bodies of work feature his friends and acquaintances engaged in acts of leisure and contemplation. “Too often, the Black body has been located in our imaginations as one incapable of rest,” Chambers explains. “Often when we imagine what the Black body is doing it is usually an act of labor, rebellion, or resistance.” Instead, his subjects are depicted reading or lost in thought, their gaze fixed on points that seem far beyond the realm of the picture plane.

Image via Laurel Nakadate/Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

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Morning Notes

Local Plastic Bag Tax to Begin — At grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores, a five-cent tax will be charged for each single-use plastic bag for customer purchases. The Northern Virginia Waste Management Board is working on outreach to help with the transition. [Patch]

County Launches New Photo Contest — The First Hike Fairfax contest returns next year with more categories for photographers to submit entrants. Participants can submit photos from any trails managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority. [Fairfax County Government]

Christmas Tree Recycling Underway — Christmas trees will be collected from Jan. 3 to 14. Lights, decorations and stands must be removed to ensure trees can be collected. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Arrests Made in Online Predator Sting — Ten men have been arrested in sting operations intended to identify predators who use the Internet to exploit children. The arrests were made since Dec. 23. [Sun Gazette]

Reston Association to Hold Special Meeting — The association’s Board of Directors will meet with its information technology committee on Jan. 5 to discuss IT-related matters. The meeting takes place via Zoom and starts at 6:30 p.m. [RA]

Local Organizations Given Funding for Afghan Resettlement — The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has awarded $60,000 in grants to six local organizations to help resettle Afghans. Awardees include Herndon-Reston FISH, Inc. and the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. [The Connection]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Case Surge Prompts Changes to Contact Investigation Process — Case investigators will prioritize contact tracing and investigation for high-risk scenarios, including children who are in school, people infected through an outbreak and people who live and work in settings like group homes or long-term care facilities. The effort is part of an attempt to use staff and resources effectively. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Student Amps Up Volunteering — Aaron Letteri, a Reston resident who studies at the Lab School of Washington, has been volunteering in many different capacities. His latest effort includes collecting coats for Cornerstones. [Fairfax County Times]

Fire at Townhouse in Reston Under Investigation — Local fire crews are investigating the source of a fire on the porch of a town house on the 3200 block of Autumn Hill Court in Reston. The fire started yesterday evening. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Vaccine Clinics Closed Today — Vaccination clinics at the Fairfax County and South County government centers will be closed through Dec. 276. [Fairfax County Government]

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Morning Notes

County Struggles to Handle Mental Health Issues — With many public school students experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression, some county officials say they’re struggling to maintain staffing to address lingering concerns. [Inside NOVA]

COVID Testing Demand Increases Locally — Testing demand has increased in Herndon and Reston. The county recorded its highest daily testing number on Dec. 15. [Reston Patch]

County Promotes Electric Vehicle Stations — County officials hope to buy more electric vehicles and increase the number of charging stations at governmental sites. [Sun Gazette]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Next’s office buildings have begun welcoming office workers. Volkswagen Group of America and Fannie Mae are anchoring the offices. (Staff photo by David Taube)

Boston Properties’ CEO Doug Linde says that Reston’s urban market is dramatically outperforming other areas.

In a quarterly earnings call, Line said that the community’s urban market core is under 10 percent vacant, bringing in starting rents in the high 50s and 60s gross.

The company’s Reston Next Project — which is welcoming anchor tenant Fannie Mae this month — has secured rents starting in the low 60s. The company takes up roughly 700,00 square feet of space. Volkswagen will also move into that project.

Reston Town Center also secured several leases this year. While the company did not disclose the name’s of the latest tenants, Boston Properties signed a 20,000-square-foot lease with a new theater operator.

Last week, the company also completed a 20,000-square-foot fitness operator.

He also said three other leases for restaurants are “close to execution.”

Last month, the company confirmed that Open Road Distillery, Hammer & Nails, and Compass Real Estate signed leases and are slated to open next year.

So far, the company has declined to comment further on the leases.

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A longstanding employee of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has been arrested and charged with two felony counts of soliciting a minor online.

Dustin Amos, 33, of Herndon was arrested after two multi-jurisdictional law enforcement task forces conducted the investigation.

Amos has worked at the county’s adult detention center since 2013.

The investigation began on Dec. 17 when the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force contacted the NOVA-DC Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. A detective on the task force reportedly came into contact with Amos.

Virginia State Police arrested Amos without incident. He is currently being held without bond.

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Morning Notes

Reston Speedskater Qualifies for Olympics — Short track speedster Maame Biney, a Reston resident, has earned a space on Team USA. She placed first in the 1,000-meter race and second in the 500 during U.S. Olympic Trials over the weekend. [Reston Patch]

Demand for Office Space Near Metro Up — The county is seeing an increase in demand for new office spaces near Metro stations, but older suburban properties appear to be falling behind. [Bisnow]

Metro to Buy Electric Buses — Metro will provide up to 10 new battery-powered buses as part of its transition to a zero-emission fleet. The Board of Directors has aimed to meet this goal by 2045. A Request for Proposals has been issued. [Metro]

School Security Officer Charged for Assaulting Student — A school resource officer has been charged with assaulting a student at Stone Middle School in Centreville. According to the Fairfax County Police Department, Lamar Hardy, 26, of Centreville, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault. [FCPD]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Former Fairfax Officers Accused of Involvement in Sex Trafficking Ring — A woman has accused two former Fairfax County police officers of sexually assaulting her in order to protect the leader of a human trafficking ring. [Reuters]

Metro Trains Returns to Service — The first of Metro’s 7000-series trains will return to service after being halted due to security concerns. The Washington Metropolitan AreaTransit Authority will gradually return the trains to service after an order from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to remove all of its 7000-series trains due to safety concerns in October. [Reston Patch]

Reston Recognized as Bike Friendly Community — Reston was recognized as a bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. Reston was designated as a bronze winner. [Reston Association]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Before we head off into another weekend with COVID-19 abound, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. JUST IN: Software company brings 400 jobs with new space in Reston Station

  2. Planning for Town Center Underpass underway

  3. Herndon Police search for robbery suspect who escaped custody

  4. Hunter Mill District Supervisor reaffirme stance on Reston National Golfcourse

  5. Town of Herndon explores ways to crack down on parking issues

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your social distancing plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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A new advocacy group in Reston has been formed in order to bridge what group members call the divide between “the Two Restons.”

Reston Forward announced its formation earlier this week. The 50-member group aims to ensure that Bob Simon’s founding principles are accessible to all Restonians.

Shane Ziegler, founder and CEO of the organization, said he and a group of friends were inspired to do more for Reston.

“Decisions are being made now in Reston by our leaders and stakeholders that will impact our community for generations to come,” Ziegler, who moved to Reston in 2020 said. “I am hopeful that Reston Forward will serve as a platform to make sure that all voices are heard.”

Here’s how the organization describes itself:

Reston Forward is a membership-driven advocacy organization that believes in a Reston that lives up to its founding principles and values for future generations by engaging residents of all ages and areas in decisions impacting the future of the community.

Zielger says that while he is new to Reston — he moved to Reston two years ago — many Restonians want to connect with other stakeholders in the community, but simply do not know how to do so.

“We want to provide a platform to encourage and guide these people to have a voice and serve Reston,” he said.

Reston Forward plans to host a podcast with community leaders in order to provide a hub of information on Reston.

So far, the organization has around 50 members. Organizers say that the membership represents a diverse mix of ages, regions of the community and lengths of residency in the community.

“We have members from the age of 22-60 representing mid-career professionals, entrepreneurs and retirees from all corners of Reston,” he said.

Image via Reston Forward/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Trains Run, But No Date for Silver Line Opening — Trains for the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County have begun running as part of testing. But the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority still does not have an opening date yet for the long-delayed project. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Steps for Superintendent Search Outlined — A timeline for the search process for the school system’s next superintendent has been outlined. GR Recruiting has hosted stakeholder meetings with staff this week. Community meetings will be held Jan. 10 through 12. A survey is expected to be emailed to the FCPS community sometime this week. [Reston Patch]

Fairfax High School Students Stage Walkout — Hundreds of students from Fairfax High School staged a walkout to support a student believed to be the victim of an Islamophobic incident. [WTOP]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Fewer Virginians can afford to buy a home, and there is a shortage of at least 200,000 affordable rental units according to the results of a study by the staff of the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) released earlier this week. Much of the material in this column is taken directly from the report which is available to the public at jlarc.virginia.gov. The study was undertaken at the direction of the legislative members of JLARC including myself as chairman and Senator Janet Howell as vice chairman to give basic information to the General Assembly for its legislative action as needed.

As expected, Virginians most affected by the lack of affordable housing are renters who have low income. Households are considered housing-cost burdened when they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses. Approximately 29 percent of Virginia households (905,000) were housing-cost burdened in 2019, and nearly half of these households spent more than 50 percent of their income on housing putting Virginia near the middle of states in terms of the percentage of households that are cost burdened.

Not surprisingly, the study found that households that rent their homes are more likely to be cost burdened than households that own their homes. Approximately 44 percent of renting households are cost burdened compared with 21 percent of owning households. The majority (67 percent) of cost burdened households live in the state’s so called “Golden Crescent” of Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, and Central Virginia.

There is a relationship between housing-cost burdened individuals and their occupations, many of which are in high demand. Examples include home health aides ($22,000 salary), teaching assistants ($29,000 salary), and social workers ($51,000 salary) who are needed in all parts of the state, and a lack of affordable housing in some regions constrains the supply.

The JLARC report states that the median home sales price in Virginia has risen 28 percent over the past four years to $270,000 in 2021. The percentage of all Virginia homes that sold for $200,000 or less decreased by 40 percent since 2019. In addition to the rising cost of homes are the upfront costs required to purchase a home. Renting a home is an obvious alternative to home purchasing, but the shortage of 200,000 affordable rental units adds to the problem. The shortage of affordable rental units in Fairfax County alone is estimated to be 80,000.

Possible solutions to the not-so-affordable housing in Virginia suggested by JLARC for state legislative action include a greater contribution to the state’s funding for affordable housing of both new affordable multi-family housing and rental housing. The state needs to provide better assistance with upfront mortgage costs. Local zoning affects the affordable housing supply and needs to be examined and revised. Virginia needs to give additional localities the authority to require developers to set aside a portion of units to rent or sell below market price.

There is no place like home for the holidays–or for any time of the year. There is a responsibility that government respond to the need for affordable housing.

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Morning Notes

Giant Employee Arrested in Connection with Embezzlement — A 54-year-old employee at Giant in North Point Village Center was arrested on Dec. 12 on embezzlement charges. Police said that an internal investigation found that the suspect was reportedly taking merchandise from the store without paying. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Trains Run on Silver Line Extension — Test trains have been running on the Silver Line extension in Fairfax and Loudoun County. Officials announced that the project has reached substantial completion last month. [Inside NOVA]

Plastic Bag Tax to Begin — Beginning Jan. 1, residents will have to pay a five-cent plastic bag tax for disposable plastic bags, including grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores in the county. [Fairfax County Government]

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The Town of Herndon is considering a holistic plan to crack down on parking issues throughout the town — a move that some officials say is necessary and long overdue.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting earlier this month, Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said that issues with parking have grown over the last two years, resulting in a mounting number of complaints regarding overcrowded neighborhoods, oversized commercial vehicles in residential areas, and other issues.

‘To be frank, Herndon has become the dumping ground for these [commercial] vehicles because there are no restrictions here,” DeBoard said, noting that some of these issues have been ongoing for 20 years.

Unlike Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the Town of Herndon has no specific parking restrictions for oversized commercial vehicles in residential areas, motor homes parking on public streets, and vehicles parking too close to driveways. The town’s code lacks specific language regarding the dimensions of restricted commercial vehicles and a highly nonspecific law simply states that parking is prohibited in “a manner that is blocking a public or private driveway.”

Increased density in the area and projected population increases have created what DeBoard called a “real compression issue.”

Council member Jasbinder Singh said that some parking restrictions might be too onerous for some neighborhoods where parking is already limited and there are no alternatives for parking.

“We have a very different character in Herndon,” Singh said, particularly in neighborhoods where residents rely on commercial vehicles for their livelihoods. “There are a lot of crowded neighborhoods.”

Calls to address parking issues in the town are not new.

In 2017, the town responded by hiring a parking enforcement officer and using a ticketing device to catch offenders. In August, the Herndon Town Council tabled a plan to limit parking near driveways, instead asking the police department and the town’s attorney to evaluate parking issues from a more holistic standpoint.

The council is expected to continue discussion on the issue following the Dec. 7 meeting.

Currently, DeBoard said that some people take advantage of the town’s lack of restrictions by simply leaving their vehicles in neighborhoods to avoid parking fees at Dulles International Airport.

Councilmember Sean Regan suggested considering residential zoned parking, which sets aside controlled parking zones by permits.

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