64°Rain

by Dave Emke — May 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Record Highs Possible Today — The National Weather Service is predicting high temperatures in the low 90s for the entire region today. The record high at Dulles International Airport for this day in history is 89, set in 1986. [National Weather Service/Twitter]

First RA Board District Meeting Tonight — Residents of the South Lakes District are invited to attend a meeting with their representative on the Reston Association Board of Directors, Julie Bitzer, tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at Terraset Elementary School (11411 Ridge Heights Road). [Reston Association]

SLHS Grad Honored for Social Activism — Ainsley Eakins, a 2014 graduate of South Lakes High School, has been honored with the Wesleyan University’s Social Activism Award. It is given for exemplifying the spirit of social activism and helping constructive social change happen. According to her LinkedIn page, Eakins is a member of a Student Advisory Committee task force assigned to develop a student resource center for marginalized groups on campus. [Wesleyan University]

File photo via Fabio Rossi/Flickr

by Dave Emke — April 20, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

More Info Released on Herndon Tornado — After detailed analysis, the National Weather Service says a tornado that touched down in Herndon on April 6 was one of seven in the area during that storm. It is now estimated the tornado first came to ground near the Dulles Greene and Capstone apartment complexes in Herndon and lasted about five minutes. It downed numerous trees, including one that was thrown into the window of an apartment building. [National Weather Service]

Reston Islamic School Spotlighted by NPR — Al Fatih Academy (12300 Pinecrest Road) was the subject of a segment on today’s Morning Edition on NPR. The academy’s goal is “to cultivate and nurture a thriving American Muslim identity that balances religious, academic and cultural knowledge and imparts the importance of civic involvement and charitable work.” [NPR]

Local College Student Fighting Pollution — Reston’s Elizabeth Merin, a junior biosystems engineering major at Virginia Tech, is part of a group of students working to scrutinize emissions at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Blacksburg, as well as pollution in the New River Valley. The students have started a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, calling their group Citizens for Arsenal Accountability. [Roanoke Times]

Herndon Farmers Market Now Open, Rain and All — The opening day of the Herndon Farmers Market, which goes through 12:30 p.m. today, is on despite this morning’s rainy weather. It will take place each Thursday into November, in front of the caboose on Lynn Street. [Reston Now/Twitter]

by Dave Emke — April 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Local Resident Part of Climate Reality Leadership Corps — Christina Blocksom, of Reston, is one of several area citizens who recently participated in Climate Reality Training in Denver. Former Vice President Al Gore founded the project. [Inside NOVA]

Red’s Table Has New Seasonal Cocktails — Rhubarb purée is a special ingredient in one of the spring drinks at the restaurant, located at the South Lakes Village Center. [DC Eater]

comScore Working With Facebook to Improve Digital Ads — The Reston-based company is introducing new demographic metrics to help provide advertisers with “transparent, uniform measurement across all platforms and devices.” [Yahoo! Finance]

‘Guys and Dolls’ Coming to Herndon HS Stage — The theater department at Herndon High School will present the musical comedy this weekend. There will be shows Friday and Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee. Tickets are $15. [Fairfax Times]

by Dave Emke — April 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm 18 Comments

An effort to create a “global climate movement” is underway, and a pair of local residents are trying to drum up support.

350 Fairfax, a local offshoot of the 350 movement, will host an event next week in Reston to share information about the project and gather ideas about how they should focus their campaign. Helene Shore of Vienna, a co-founder of the group along with Reston resident Julie Kimmel, says their kickoff meeting is intended to grow the effort and gauge the issues concerned citizens want to attack.

“We’re hoping to meet once a month to work on different issues,” Shore said. Future meetings will be planned in other parts of the county, she said.

One of the group’s first organized efforts will be to participate in the People’s Climate Movement in D.C. on April 29. Shore said she attended the first such event in New York in 2014, in which more than 300,000 people participated.

“We’re hoping to get that many or more from across the nation to come down to D.C.,” she said.

According to the movement’s website, the name “350” comes from the acceptable amount of carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. The number is currently well above that, Shore said.

Beyond putting pressure on government to limit CO2 emissions and combat climate change, Shore said specific goals of the group will be up to the people who choose to join.

“We want to bring together people who are grassroots activists,” she said. “We are concerned about this generation and generations to come because of what’s happening.”

The group’s kickoff meeting will be held Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar (1612 Washington Plaza N.). For more information, email [email protected] or check out their Facebook page.

by RestonNow.com — March 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Reston Parkway underpass on W&OD TrailIt’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend and a lot of people will be out celebrating. Safety officials are reminding residents to party responsibly and to be sure to have a safe ride home.

As part of the effort to keep everyone safe, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering revelers free rides (up to a $20 value) through its SoberRide campaign. The program is open to everyone throughout the Washington region through 4 a.m. Saturday.

To get the free ride, use the Lyft app and enter the promo code SOBERRIDE.

Partying or not, though, there will be plenty of things to do in the Reston area this weekend. Here are just some of the options available.

  • The Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will host its annual spring flea market Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The free event is available to residents of all ages. For more information, call 703-476-4500.
  • The fourth annual Maker Faire NoVa is Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School. Tickets at the door will be $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for children. Family packs of five tickets will be $40.
  • Teen job fairs and resume-building workshops will be offered Saturday by Fairfax County at Chantilly High School (4201 Stringfellow Road) from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Oakton High School (2900 Sutton Road, Vienna) from 1-3 p.m.
  • Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week’s schedule features horse-drawn carriage rides, free funnel cakes and a performance by the McGrath Academy of Irish Dance. The event will go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
  • The opening reception of Greater Reston Arts Center’s “Emerging Visions” exhibit is set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday. The show features curated works of art created by Fairfax County students from South Lakes, Herndon and Oakton high schools, and it will be on display through April 1.
  • The Social Justice & Peace Conference will be Saturday from 12:30-6 p.m. at United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive). The free event will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.
  • A bird walk at Sunrise Valley Wetlands and Polo Fields will be offered from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday. Check out Reston Association’s WebTrac for more information.
  • Reston Community Players’ will put on “Rock of Ages” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Use the password “St. Paddy’s” when purchasing tickets for tonight’s show by phone or in person to get them for $10. Regular tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
  • A Kennedy Center Production of “From the Mouths of Monsters” will be performed at Herndon High School (700 Bennett St.) tonight at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and children.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will be visited by Frying Pan Farm Park on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, featuring animal education, stories and crafts. For adults, the lecture series on World War I will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight for St. Patrick’s Day, with Mark Scott from 4-8 p.m. followed by Sam Gunderson from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will have the opening reception for its exhibit “There’s No Place Like Home,” by members of the Great Falls Studios, from 3-5 p.m. Sunday. The show will be on display through April 8.
  • The Reston Town Center Singles Meetup group has an event scheduled for tonight at Ned Devine’s Irish Bar & Restaurant (2465 Centreville Road, Herndon). Shake 3X will perform at the restaurant from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

by Dave Emke — March 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes - Winter

Early Education Teachers Sought — Bright Horizons will host an on-site interviewing session Tuesday at its Vienna location as it looks for early childhood teachers and associate teachers for its centers throughout Fairfax County. Dinner will be provided for event attendees. [Bright Horizons/Eventbrite]

Public Art Reston logoPublic Art Organization Has New Image — As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, The Initiative for Public Art Reston has been re-branded. Now known simply as Public Art Reston, the nonprofit has unveiled its new website and logo. The organization seeks to inspire an ongoing commitment to public art and create a new generation of artworks in Reston. [Public Art Reston]

Construction on Metro to Detour Some Traffic — Again this weekend, work in the median of the Dulles Airport Access Road will result in eastbound traffic being detoured onto the Dulles Toll Road. The work will be done from about 9 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday, as crews set several large precast concrete elements at the Silver Line’s future Herndon and Reston Town Center stations. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Community Matters Reston logo‘Community Matters Reston’ Plans First Meeting — A new volunteer organization promoting community-building initiatives and outreach has scheduled its first public meeting. Community Matters Reston will meet Monday from 6:30-8 p.m. at Sunset Hills Montessori School (11180 Ridge Heights Road). The organization is also selling decals featuring its logo, designed by Dana Scheurer, with all proceeds going to Cornerstones. The group’s goal is to “promote two of the founding principles of Bob Simon’s neighborhood: fostering and celebrating diversity, and offering a helping hand to those who need it.” [Community Matters Reston/Facebook]

by Dave Emke — March 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

United Christian Parish - RestonA coalition of faith-based organizations will put on a conference Saturday in the effort to help build understanding between communities.

The Social Justice & Peace Conference, hosted by United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive), will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.

The event’s keynote speaker will be Dr. B. Chris Dorsey, president of Higher Education & Leadership Ministries. He will speak on “A Social Justice Paradigm for Building and Sustaining Authentic Community.”

Organizations participating in the conference will include Higher Education & Leadership Ministries, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Interfaith Partners for Justice, Unitarian Universalist Church, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Equality Virginia, Washington Plaza Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church and National City Christian Church.

“In light of recent events, it seems more important than ever for people to come together to discuss and work together for social justice,” said James Dean, an organizer of the event. “We will not agree on all of the issues, but we can find common ground and we can work together to advance justice, peace and inclusion.”

Advance registration is encouraged, but on-site registration will also be available at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. A concert by UCPraise! will start the event. For more information, contact Dean at 571-830-8730 or [email protected].

by Dave Emke — March 6, 2017 at 10:15 am 52 Comments

Hundreds of displeased residents braved chilly temperatures Saturday to participate in a march to protest paid parking at Reston Town Center.

“We believe it’s a huge success, despite the cold weather,” organizer Guarang Shah said. “Final numbers are 450-plus.”

Reston Town Center patrons and business owners have been making their displeasure known since RTC owners Boston Properties announced last year their plan to institute paid parking. The initiative went into effect Jan. 3, after which businesses have said their customer base has dwindled.

The throng of protesters began their afternoon march in the parking lot of Winwood Children’s Center on New Dominion Parkway. Aaron Gordon, owner of Red Velvet Cupcakery at RTC, stood among the protesters in the parking lot and said the support shown by local residents means a lot to merchants affected by the decision by RTC owners Boston Properties.

“It feels like we’re not the only ones in this battle; it feels like everyone has the same anger,” Gordon said. “We’ve been making the argument that we’re down in sales and customers are no longer coming, and this proves our point.”

The protesters were not given permission by Boston Properties to march within Reston Town Center; however, the marchers’ path did cut through — under the close eye of security — as they worked their way back to New Dominion Parkway. After looping around Not Your Average Joe’s, the protesters lined up along the parkway and were greeted by a large amount of honked support from passing motorists.

Marchers were encouraged to document the event on social media with the hashtag #parkfreertc.

Boston Properties has said that the paid parking initiative is “here to stay” and that the distress claimed by businesses is being overblown. Gordon, who is organizing a group of merchants considering legal action against Boston Properties, said he is hopeful that the company will eventually see business in the Town Center is down “disastrously” and will have a change of heart.

“If there are 500 people out here, that represents 50,000 people that feel the exact same way,” Gordon said. “Just as Boston Properties is saying they’re never going to take away paid parking, we’re never going to go away.”

Wendy Warren, of Herndon, was one of the former Town Center patrons who came out Saturday to support the cause. She said she and her family visited RTC two or three times a week prior to paid parking. Now, they go to the Mosaic District or One Loudoun instead.

“There are no other suburban shopping areas around here that have paid parking, or such a poorly designed app,” she said, citing concerns that have been raised by a number of people who’ve spoken out against the system’s ParkRTC app. Boston Properties insists the app is secure.

Wendy’s husband, William, said Boston Properties should consider a different approach to its paid-parking initiative.

“Three hours of free parking, so that you could come here for something like dinner,” he said. “They state they want it to guard against commuter parking, but they could easily accommodate for people who want to come use the amenities here at the Town Center.”

Shah said if Boston Properties didn’t take notice of Saturday’s protest, there will be more to come.

“If they don’t change their mind, there will be another march,” he said. “We are already planning another march that will take place in summertime.”

by Del. Ken Plum — February 23, 2017 at 10:15 am 16 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

In a previous column, I addressed in part the question I get from more and more constituents about what they can do to be more active in public service. Their concern, of course, comes from the outcome of the presidential election and the unbelievable events that have occurred since that time.

Adding to that December column, in which I highly recommended membership in the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center and involvement in the gubernatorial election of 2017 in Virginia, I have decided to further facilitate individuals seeking to find a place in which they could become involved in civic affairs.

I am sponsoring an event at Langston Hughes Middle School on Saturday, March 11, from 9:30 a.m.-noon. “What Can I Do? A Civic Engagement Workshop” is designed to bring people who want to be more active in their community and in civic matters at all levels of government together with individuals and organizations that can provide opportunities, direction and assistance in becoming an activist, advocate and participant in their community.

There will be no formal program or speeches. Rather, representatives of at least 15 different organizations who are known for their civic involvement will be there to answer questions and give advice on how persons can get involved. It will not be necessary for participants to attend the entire time. No registration is required. Attendees can “shop” from among the organizations represented to explore their interests and get to know the representatives who themselves are already actively involved in the community.

Issues and interest areas to be represented include voting, redistricting, elections, immigration, political campaigning, women’s rights, poverty, gun violence prevention and others. Groups from both political parties have been invited, as the event is nonpartisan. Participants include the AAUW, Centreville Immigration Forum, Community Matters, Cornerstones, Emerge Virginia, Equality Virginia, Giving Circle of HOPE, Herndon Reston Indivisible, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, Moms Demand Action, NAACP of Fairfax County, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Reston-Dulles Section of National Council of Negro Women, New Virginia Majority, OneVirginia2021, Reston Environmental Action and SALT.

I share the concern and fears expressed by many people about the future direction of our country. I am greatly disturbed about the negative impact that evolving events are having on my neighbors, our children and grandchildren; our form of government; and the culture of inclusiveness we have spent centuries building. It is time for the people to take back their government with a strong and informed voice.

To the extent to which the workshop contributes to empowering more people to become involved in their government, I feel it will be a success. Plan to participate and invite your neighbors and friends to come as well.

by Dave Emke — February 7, 2017 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

Nisa KatzEverything was coming together nicely for Nisa Katz, a 2010 graduate of South Lakes High School.

“I actually was able to get an internship with Disney World, which was my dream job,” she said. “I was offered a regular full-time position, but I ended up getting sick.”

After a long series of doctor’s visits, Katz was diagnosed in 2014 with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a condition that causes an increased heart rate when standing upright — resulting in dizziness, migraines and more. Because of it, Katz was forced to give up her photography position at Disney World and return home to Reston to her parents, Gina and Bert.

Since, Katz said she has been diagnosed with a series of other conditions — Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Chiari malformation and trigeminal neuralgia among them.

Now 25, Katz finds herself traveling down a new path in life, raising awareness for rare diseases and chronic illnesses. She has started an awareness campaign called Spoonspirations — the name of which is a reference to “spoon theory,” a term coined by lupus patient advocate Christine Miserandino about how sufferers of such conditions must ration their energy.

“She wanted a way to describe it to people who don’t have a chronic illness, so they could understand,” Katz said. “Basically, it’s kind of like if you get up to walk the dog, you use three spoons out of your 12 total spoons for the day.”

SpoonspirationsThrough Spoonspirations, Katz is using her love of art to spread the word about chronic illness. Katz studied graphic design as well as photography, and she has designed a number of different pieces of apparel for various related causes.

She is raising money for research in the process, as all proceeds from sales of the clothing are given to chronic illness organizations. In 2016, she said, she raised $8,000 that was donated in large part to Dysautonomia International and the Dysautonomia Support Network, organizations she became acquainted with through her personal journey.

This year, Katz has become involved with rare disease advocacy organization Global Genes. She will travel to Southern California at the end of the month to participate in a fashion show for the organization as part of World Rare Disease Day.

“Everyone is walking in honor of someone who has a rare disease,” she said. “I’m the only one walking who actually has a rare disease.”

Katz is hopeful that she will be able to make more connections during the event to help her expand Spoonspirations and raise more awareness for the hundreds of millions worldwide suffering from chronic illnesses.

“Rare diseases affect approximately 350 million people worldwide and often times are invisible,” she said. “So you never know who might be affected.”

Photos courtesy Nisa Katz/Spoonspirations

by Dave Emke — February 2, 2017 at 11:30 am 180 Comments

Elizabeth Vandenburg - Hate Has No Home Here

Reston’s Elizabeth Vandenburg was in D.C.’s Chevy Chase recently when signs dotting the community called to her.

“There was an initiative by the neighborhood, and there were signs all over the place,” she said. “Seeing these signs, it just was really inspirational.”

The signs were part of the “Hate Has No Home Here” project, which started in November in Chicago’s North Park neighborhood. Students at an elementary school devised the slogan and a local graphic designer developed the artwork. Word has gotten out and the campaign has spread across the nation and world.

Elizabeth Vandenburg - Hate Has No Home HereAnyone can make their own HHNHH signs by downloading the artwork and taking it to a print shop. Vandenburg had 100 signs printed at Sign & Print in Herndon. One is currently in her front yard on Hunting Horn Lane and she is working to distribute the rest to friends and others who have contacted her through Facebook.

“First, I surveyed like 10 or 15 friends, and they said, ‘Sure,'” Vandenburg said. “I raised some money to do it, so I could give some away. … The 100 are pretty much accounted for.”

Vandenburg said she was encouraged to become part of the project because she feels it is important to stand up for what you believe.

“I’ve been an advocate for a lot of different issues, and I wanted my voice to be heard,” she said. “I wanted to feel inspired as I went around Reston. I know Reston is inclusive and supportive of these causes, but having it be visible gives my heart a lift.”

The project defines itself as non-partisan:

This sign is a public declaration that hate speech and hateful actions against others will not be tolerated by the person or organization displaying the sign. In that, it is apolitical. This sign is a statement that, while it is OK to disagree with others civilly regarding issues, it is not OK to intimidate or attack a person or group — verbally or physically — based on attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability or sexual orientation. The colors of the sign — red, white and blue — are the colors of the American flag, not any political party.

Vandenburg said, however, that issues such as President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration emphasize the importance of the project’s message.

“It’s a privilege to be an American,” she said. “I believe it’s my responsibility and duty to speak up.”

For more information on the project, visit its Facebook page.

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