Morning Notes

Zinneas bloom outside Vantage Hill Condos (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Reston Triathlon Raises Money for Nonprofit — The Reston Sprint Triathlon returned on Sunday (Aug. 15) after going entirely virtual last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now in its 15th year, the race saw athletes compete across Reston pools, streets, and paths with the goal of raising $25,000 for the local nonprofit Cornerstones, which would bring its all-time fundraising total to $400,000. [Patch]

Childhood Reston Friends Reel in Big Fishing Goal — “In the summer of 2020 — antsy from pandemic lockdowns and in no hurry to start their upcoming freshman year of college staring at computer screens — Luke Konson and Daniel Balserak set themselves a goal: to travel the United States and catch the official state fish from all 50 states…The pair have known each other since they were second-graders at Dominion Christian School in Reston. Avid anglers, they first fished together a couple of years ago.” [The Washington Post]

Reston Library Book Sale Returns Today — In time for the new school year, the Friends of the Reston Regional Library is bringing back its Children and Educators’ Book Sale starting today through 2:30 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 22). The group isn’t taking donations this time, and patrons must comply with masking and other COVID-19 requirements while perusing the stock of gently used or good books. [Reston Library Friends]

Water Mine Sends Out Summer With a Bark — “The Water Mine at Lake Fairfax Park is going to the dogs on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, when Dog Daze returns from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. As pool time comes to a close for humans, canines get their day to splash in the water. Dog Daze features dogs-only swimming, a Canine Resource Fair and fun for all members of the family. The cost is $10 per dog. All proceeds go to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to benefit parks.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m. on 6/9/2021) Reston Baby,” a new bilingual board book about life in the community, is being gifted to all Reston newborns.

Starting next week, every baby born at Reston Hospital Center will receive the picture book prior to leaving the hospital. For babies not born at that hospital, they (or their parents) can pick up a free copy at the Reston Historic Trust & Museum at Lake Anne Plaza.

Developed by a retired Sunrise Valley Elementary School principal, the book tells the story of Reston through illustrations, words, and bright colors.

“Our biggest goal…was for parents to really understand the value and importance of reading to their children from birth,” said former principal and project founder Dr. Beth English, who is also a literacy educator. “The second purpose was to give Reston families a sense of the uniqueness of the community in which they live.”

The book is primarily comprised of illustrations drawn by Molly Bergin that highlight Reston’s well-known history and landmarks. This includes information about founder Robert E. Simon, nature trails, the Reston Community Center, and the farmers markets.

English says the book was written in both English and Spanish to reflect the community’s values of diversity as well as appreciating art.

The book additionally features Reston’s mascot, Walker Woodpecker.

Reston Museum & Historic Trust is helping shepherd the project and distribute the book.

Alex Campbell, the museum’s executive director, says “Reston Baby” fits well into the museum’s mission.

“It’s a really wonderful community project…Our mission is to inform the present, but also influence the future,” Campbell said. “This is one way we can do that.”

The museum also now hosts an outdoor program called “Storytime for Little Historians” every Tuesday, and “Reston Baby” will be part of that series too.

Over the past year, the Reston Museum has continued to experiment with different ways to fulfill its mission within the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re continually looking for ways to engage the community of all ages in a variety of different ways,” Campbell said.

English says she got the idea for the book last year toward the beginning of the pandemic.

While attending a virtual, statewide literacy conference, she learned about Roanoke’s baby board book. She consulted with the head of the library services there, who gave her a blueprint for her own project, including publisher recommendations, the cost, and thoughts on funding it.

English took the idea back to friends and fellow educators, who all agreed it was a great idea.

She started working on it April 10, 2020, and now, 14 months later, Reston Baby is written, illustrated, published, and ready for distribution.

A number of notable Reston organizations helped fund the $15,000 needed for the book’s first printing, including Reston Association, Reston Community Center, Reston Town Center Association, Friends of the Reston Regional Library, and Friends of Reston.

With that money, English was able to publish 4,200 books.

About 200 babies are born at Reston Hospital Center a month, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed to Reston Now. Even adding in Reston babies born at other hospitals or in other areas, English expects this printing will be enough to provide every newborn a free book for at least the next year.

The book will also be available for sale online and at the Reston Museum.

Once all the books are distributed, English anticipates raising more money for a second printing.

English says she’s already given away a few copies of the book, including to a Reston Hospital nurse who just had her own baby and to her soon-to-be-born granddaughter.

“I’m going to be a grandmother at the end of this month. It’s my first,” English said. “And I sent [a book] to my son and daughter-in-law in Boston because I want my baby granddaughter to know where her grandmother lives.”

Photo courtesy Reston Museum & Historic Trust

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Tuesday, June 1

  • Scrawl Books Reopening (10 a.m.) — After being closed for more than a year, Reston Town Center’s bookstore is reopening for browsing and shopping. Scrawl Books took time over the pandemic to completely renovate, so there’s now even more space and reading nooks. Masks will continue to be required in the store.
  • Duck Harbor (8 p.m.) — Every Tuesday for the next 12 weeks, 1st Stage in Tysons will present “Duck Harbor,” a live, serialized romantic comedy web series starring actors on both the east and west coasts. Not only that, the actors will only be given their own script so they can react genuinely to what the other character says. If you miss it live, binge-watch it to catch up!

Wednesday, June 2 

  • We Are What We Eat (8 p.m.) — Author Alice Waters advocates for “slow food culture,” a preservation of local food origins and traditions. Join Waters in conversation with Kim Severson, a national food correspondent for the New York Times, as they discuss why slow food culture is vital to our societal needs. This virtual event is being put on by Politics and Prose.

Thursday, June 3

  • A Transgender Virginian’s Story (7 p.m.) — Join a member of Equality Virginia’s Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau for an evening to learn their story. There’ll be time for questions and dialogue. This virtual event is hosted by the Reston Regional Library.

Friday, June 4 

  • Fair Oaks Mall Carnival (5 p.m.) — If you didn’t get your cotton candy and ferris wheel fill last year, plenty of local carnivals are back this year, including one at Fair Oaks Mall. So, grab a funnel cake, and jump aboard the whirly-twirly.

Saturday, June 5

  • Gardens of Note (10 a.m.) — Enjoy a self-guided tour of five of Reston’s beautiful residential gardens rarely open to the public. Along the way, there will be pop-up musical performances from members of the Reston Chorale.
  • Owl Prowl (6:30-8 p.m.) — Reston Association invites people of all ages to the Walker Nature Center for this all-ages program celebrating the natural world. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult, and all adults and children over two years of age must wear masks. Registration has filled up, but there is a wait list available. The cost is $7 for members and $9 for non-members.
  • BD Wong at Reston Community Center (8 p.m.) — You may have seen Wong act in the television show “Mr. Robot” or on the big screen in “Jurassic Park,” but he’s also a motivational speaker. He’ll be speaking on racial self-image, the model-minority myth, and LGTBQ rights.

Sunday, June 6

  • Heritage India Festival (12-7 p.m.) — The D.C.-area’s premier South Asian cultural, arts, and commerce festival is back this year at the Dulles Expo Center. There will be shopping, performances, and food. The festival is mostly indoors and will following all state and local COVID guidelines.
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More than a year after closing to indoor shopping, Scrawl Books is reopening its doors today (Tuesday) so customers can once again browse the shelves to their heart’s content.

However, the Reston Town Center shop will look a little different from what loyal patrons remember.

Like its brethern around the country, Scrawl quickly pivoted to exclusively online events and services in March 2020 after the novel coronavirus forced a shutdown of the kind of in-person, cozy gatherings on which bookstores normally thrive.

Offering free delivery in the local area and curbside pick-ups throughout the pandemic, the shop also took advantage of the unanticipated closure to get in a renovation that owner Rachel Wood believes will improve customers’ experience now that they’re able to venture inside.

“It was difficult to close the doors to customers,” she said. “Fortunately, we were able to work through the transition, and use the time to renovate our space and evaluate our inventory to ensure that Scrawl is offering a comfortable experience and relevant selection for all of our readers.”

The store still occupies its familiar space at 11911 Freedom Drive next to Chipotle in the northeastern corner of Reston Town Center, but the interior walls have been removed, creating a more spacious venue, according to Scrawl Books manager Molly McMahon.

While Scrawl started letting customers book browsing appointments in May, today marks its return to full indoor services without time or capacity limits. The store’s regular business hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays will take effect immediately.

Wood says the timing of the reopening was driven primarily by the arrival of summer weather and the promising trajectory of Fairfax County’s vaccination rates. As of May 27, more than 74% of adult residents had gotten at least one shot, putting the county well ahead of President Joe Biden’s target of 70% by July 4.

“As the weather gets nicer and vaccination numbers continue to rise, I feel confident that we can provide a safe environment for book lovers to browse our shelves,” Wood said.

Though Virginia lifted its capacity and social distancing requirements for businesses on Friday (May 28), Scrawl will continue taking some precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Masks are still required in the store, since “many of our best readers are young children,” who aren’t able to get vaccinated yet, Wood says. The staff also plans to keep the shop doors open so that fresh air can flow inside as much as possible.

In addition, curbside pick-up and delivery options will still be available, and the store has a combination of virtual and in-person events on its calendar, from an outdoor storytime with local artist and author Joan Waites to a virtual Wine Wednesday tomorrow and a virtual book launch for “In the Heights: Finding Home” featuring writer Quiara Alegría and composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Local bookworms can also get their literary fix at Reston’s Used Book Shop, which has been open daily with evolving rules since September.

Photo courtesy Scrawl Books

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Morning Notes

Phase 2 of COVID-19 Vaccinations Begins — Fairfax County officially entered Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout yesterday, making everyone 16 and older eligible. With the county retiring its registration system, appointments can be scheduled directly with providers through VaccineFinder, though limited supplies means they might be initially hard to come by. [Fairfax County Health Department/Twitter]

Fairfax County Gets First Community Vaccination Center — Fairfax County’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination site will open tomorrow in the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner. The facility can accommodate about 3,000 people per day and will eventually be listed as an available site on VaccineFinder after the county health department finishes getting through its waitlist from Phase 1. [Tysons Reporter]

Former Fairfax County Police Officer’s Cases Under Scrutiny — “A Virginia judge on Friday [April 16] agreed to toss out the 2019 conviction of former D.C. firefighter Elon Wilson on drug and gun charges, agreeing with defense attorneys and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano that racial bias may have been at play in the arresting officer’s initial stop and arrest. Descano…said the case was one of more than 400 stops by a former Fairfax County police officer his office has been investigating.” [DCist]

Virginia Reports First Cases of Brazil COVID-19 Variant — The novel coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has been found in two samples from Virginia residents. One was an adult resident of the Northwest Region with a history of domestic travel during the exposure period, and the other was an adult resident of the Eastern Region with no history of travel. [Virginia Department of Health]

Celebrate Earth Day at Colvin Mill Run — “Looking for a volunteer opportunity this #EarthDay? On Thurs, April 22, Colvin Run Mill will be hosting a weeding and mulching party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’d love to have you spend a little time helping with the effort!” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]

Reston Author Publishes Children’s Book — Reston resident Jessica Sizemore turned the story of how her family came to adopt a dog named Rascal into her first published book. A Virginia Tech graduate, she started to write the book in 2016 and began the publishing process in 2019 with Herndon-based publisher Mascot Books. [Fairfax County Times]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday, March 8

  • Living in Reston A Long Time Ago (6 p.m.) – Join the Reston Historic Trust and Museum for a trivia night put on by a South Lakes High School student who wanted to learn more about the town she grew up in. It will focus on Reston’s history and what it was like living in Reston in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Tuesday March 9

Wednesday, March 10

  • Paint like Van Gogh (6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.) – Create your own Vincent Van Gogh-inspired masterpieces. Join the Fairfax County Public Library staff in using the technique called “impasto,” meaning to lay paint on thickly to make it stand out from the canvas. All art materials will be provided and available for pick-up.

Thursday, March 11

  • Cains Branch (11 a.m.) – Hike the trails in Chantilly and learn the hidden history of this Fairfax County park. Follow the waterway to discover more about the life of early inhabitants who made this area their home.

Friday, March 12

  • Eye of an Eagle (7 p.m.) – Be it date night or family night, see if you can spot the animal by its anatomy at this virtual trivia night hosted by the Reston Association.

Saturday, March 13

  • Drive-Up Movie Night (6 p.m.) – Take a trip to Tysons for a baseball-themed drive-up movie night. Entry cost supports the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and DC Take Steps Program. It’s a double family-friendly feature of “Field of Dreams” & “42: The Jackie Robinson Story.”

Sunday, March 14

  • Birding for Beginners (9 a.m.) – 2021’s hottest new hobby… is birding? As the spring migration season takes flight, join fellow birders at Lake Fairfax to learn how to spot feathered flyers.
  • Founder’s Day (2 p.m.) – A new exhibit at Lake Anne’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery imagines the beginnings of Reston. The art focuses on the seven principles outlined by Reston founder Robert E. Simon. On Sunday, there’s also a reception celebrating the exhibit which will be on display until April 30.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Challah Bread (Photo via Pixabay/dinar_aulia)

Monday, March 1

  • Reston Association Board Election (5 p.m.) – Month-long voting begins at 5 p.m., with residents able to vote online or via their mailed ballot (which is being sent out on March 1). Five candidates are certified for three open seats on the 2021 Board of Directors. Results will be announced in April at the Annual Members’ Meeting.

Tuesday March 2

  • Suburban Space to Natural Oasis (7–8 p.m.) – Kim Young, a naturalist at Annandale’s Hidden Oaks Nature Center, is teaching how to turn a “typical suburban yard into a native plant wildlife habitat.” She’ll go over processes and what plants are right for your suburban space. This is a two part virtual program.

Wednesday, March 3

  • Home Fermenting (1–2 p.m.) – Fermenting vegetables at home have become somewhat of a fad during the pandemic. Join Kathryn Strong from the Virginia Cooperative Extension to learn how to properly do it and the equipment needed.

Thursday, March 4

  • Tom Stoppard (5 p.m.) – Join Smithsonian Associates as they talk with author Hermione Lee about her new biography about one of the greatest living playwrights, Tom Stoppard. He’s the author of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and co-writer of the 1998 Oscar winner Shakespeare in Love.

Friday, March 5

  • Drawing Comics (4–5:30 p.m.) – Let the creative juices follow as cartoonist Bud Little guides students through a four-week comic strip class. Students will learn how to create and illustrate basic cartoons using their own characters and settings. The class is intended for kids. It’s being put on by the Arts of Great Falls, it is in-person, and there’s a 7-student maximum.

Saturday, March 6

  • American Girl (11 a.m.) – Authors Erin Teagan and Terry Catasus Jenning are talking girl power with the introduction of their new books. Jennings is introducing her new series Definitely Dominguita and Teagan is talking about her new series about the American Girl Doll of the Year Kira’s adventures. During this Zoom event, four American Girl dolls are being raffled off, including 2018’s American Girl of the year Luciana.
  • Cider Tasting (5 p.m.) – Drink up with a virtual apple cider tasting. Join authors Dan Pucci & Craig Cavallo of the book American Cider: A Modern Guide To A Historic Beverage as they talk and walk through a virtual cider tasting featuring ciders from D.C.’s ANXO.

Sunday, March 7

  • Challah Challah (11 a.m.) – Hannah Wolfman-Arent, baker for popular Sonny’s Pizza in D.C., leads a challah workshop. She’ll teach how to make the classic egg loaf as well as variations like one with garlic jam. A full recipe, an ingredient list, and a step-by-step guide will also be provided prior to the online class.

Photo via Pixabay/dinar_aulia

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Monday, Feb. 22

  • Undefeated (2:30-3:15 p.m.) – Meet Kwame Alexander, one of the hottest young adult book authors writing today. The New York Times best selling and Caldecott Medal-winning author (for his 2019 book “The Undefeated“) will talk about his writing process and give a short reading.
  • Brothers Gupta (6:30-7:30 p.m.) – After being rejected many times, Suneel Gupta dives into the question of if “charisma”can be learned. He gets into a conversation with his brother Sanjay Gupta, and famed CNN medical correspondent, about his new book focusing on this topic. This virtual event is hosted by Politics and Prose.

Tuesday Feb. 23

  • Burn (6-7 p.m.) – In October 1933, George Armwood of Princess Anne, Maryland was lynched. It was the last known lynching in a state with a horrific history of the crime. Join filmmaker Will Schwarz – and founder of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project – as he virtually screens and discusses his documentary film, “Burn: The Lynching of George Armwood.” This event is for adults.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

  • Backyard Bats (7-8 p.m.) – Learn about the enchanting life of the world’s only flying mammal from Leslie Sturges, President of the Save Lucy Campaign. She’s teaching participants about the seven bat species that call this region home and how to spot the animals in your own backyard. This event is virtual.

Thursday, Feb. 25 

  • A Reckoning (Noon to 1 p.m.) – This virtual event from Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria features four poets giving voices to the erased lives of those who were enslaved at Woodlawn. Readings are accompanied by music from harmonica player Cliff Bernier.

Friday, Feb. 26

  • Asteroid (3 p.m.) – Last October, a NASA spacecraft touched down on Bennu, an asteroid, and collected samples of the rock. Hear from Dr. Ben Ashman, a member of the mission’s navigation team, about how they did it.

Saturday, Feb. 27

  • Geocaching (2 p.m.) – Go on a Global Positioning System-led treasure hunt at Lake Fairfax. Geocaching continues a much-beloved activity, especially during the pandemic since it’s almost entirely done outdoors. Bring your own GPS and learn how to find your own treasure.

Photo via alobenda/Pixabay

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The non-profit Friends of Reston Regional Library is providing about 1,800 free books to local students. The Book Bites project is giving new books to children at four Reston public schools during meal and school supply pick-up, which typically runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m on weekdays.

The schools that will receive donations are Dogwood Elementary, Hunters Woods Elementary, Forest Edge Elementary, and South Lakes High School. The first day of distribution took place at Dogwood late last week and is expected to continue until March.

Eileen Evon, Community Outreach Chair for FRRL, says the idea came to the organization when they realized how many families were in need of partaking in the meal pick-ups.

“Knowing more kids than ever were going to schools to pick up meals got us thinking about what else they might need to feed their brains and hearts and imaginations during this crazy time,” Evon wrote in an email to Reston Now. “We believed we, as Friends of the Library, could and should help.”

With access to libraries still limited, Evon says, this made the need even greater.

Books were sorted, inventoried, and arranged by reading level by more than 25 volunteers. Families are able to take bundles for multiple students within the same household. Books will also be handed out at schools in the coming weeks, when more students are expected to return in-person.

The books chosen for the project are from recommended school reading lists and were based on input from school librarians, reading specialists, and other school staff.

The organization received assistance from the local business Scrawl Books at Reston Town Center, which provided discounts on books. Jersey Mike’s of Reston also donated 1,000 new paper bags for the book bundles.

FRRL says the total cost of the books being distributed is nearly $15,000. Funds for the project came from sales of donated books as well as cash donations.

In normal times, FRRL raises money (often with book sales) to assist Reston libraries in filling funding gaps. Their mission is to make the local library system the “can be the best it can be” by providing technology, collection materials, programming, and books for free or discounted costs to the community, according to its website.

Evon says that while giving away free books looks easy, it requires a lot of work.

“It seems like a simple idea: ‘let’s give away a bunch of free, brand-new books to kids who rarely get them.’ But it actually has required months of planning and creative thinking,” she says. “The schools have so much going on right now, and they have had to adapt constantly. We’ve been delighted to partner with them so our volunteers can come to their schools to distribute these books to their families.”

Photo courtesy of Friends of Reston Regional Library

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Monday, Jan 25

  • The Nields Livestream Concert (8 p.m.) – Local folk band the Nields recently released their 20th album and they are celebrating by performing a livestream concert from Jammin Java in Vienna. Known for their songs being inspired by headlines, tickets are free but donations are welcomed.

Tuesday, Jan 26

  • Treasure Hunting at Home (11 a.m. to 12 p.m) – The Reston Association is hosting a virtual appraisal roadshow, where residents can show off their family heirlooms to see if they truly have a price. Each family can present one item – like jewelry, coins, timepiece, porcelain, or artwork – and experts will explain their origins and their monetary worth.

Wednesday, Jan 27

  • Summer Camp in a Bag (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.) – Due to COVID-19, the Reston Summer Camp Expo isn’t being held this year. But that doesn’t mean families can’t dream of sunshine and kids getting out of the house. Pick up a swag bag full of summer camp information and fun surprises at the Reston Community Center at Hunter Woods from January 25 to 30.

Thursday, Jan 28 

  • Queen’s Gambit (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) – Inspired by the popular Netflix show, local Ashley Xing joins the Fairfax County Public Library for a history of women in chess. Xing was a U.S. representative to the World Youth Chess Championships and founder of the Tyson-Pimmit library’s chess team.

Friday, Jan 29

  • Winter Wanderland (6 p.m.) – Take a socially distant wander through ice sculptures in the Village at Leesburg. There’s a new ice theme every week, but visitors have to guess what it is. Correctly doing so gets you entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card at a local store. If there’s poor weather, check social media for updates to the schedule.

Saturday, Jan 30 

  • Dear COVID Poetry Slam (6-8 p.m.) – Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia is partnering with Busboys and Poets for a poetry slam and open mic. Here’s a chance to get thoughts and feelings about COVID off your chest. Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. NBC4’s Drew Wilder is the guest emcee.

Photo via Helena1962/Pixabay

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After being prompted by the murder of George Floyd and national protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement,  community members in Reston are turning to local bookstores for resources on systemic racism and the black community.

Scrawl Books, located at 11911 Freedom Drive, has already sold hundreds of anti-racism books, according to manager Molly McMahon.

“We have seen a profound uptick in sales for books by and about people of color, diversity, black lives matter issues and titles that address the causes and effects of racism (both fiction and nonfiction) over the past few weeks,” she said.

In the coming weeks, the location will also be organizing free books talks and events to help promote activism and education.

On Thursday (June 18), guests can tune into Zoom to hear from Daven McQueen about her new novel, “The Invincible Summer or Juniper Jones,” which focuses on a biracial adolescent sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Alabama in 1955,” according to McMahon.

Later in the month, on June 25, Mahogany L. Browne will give a book talk about her novel “Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice.”

Some of the best sellers so far include “‘How to be an Antiracist‘ by Ibram X. Kendi, ‘Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America‘ by Ibram X. Kendi and ‘White Fragility‘ by  Robin D’Angelo,” McMahon said.

Because of high demand across the country, some of the books are on back-order form publishers, according to McMahon but they would once again be available on shelves later this month.

“We ensure our inventory increases along with demand for specific titles and topics, so we can fill orders as quickly as possible,” she said.

At the shop, some of McMahon’s favorite titles for all ages from Black authors include:

For those wanting to explore other local shops around town, Reston’s Used Book Shop (1623 Washington Plaza North Lake Anne) also carries titles from black authors, but given the nature of a used book shop, one employee said they cannot guarantee that they will have specific titles.

“There’s been an increase in requests,” said one of the employees at Reston’s Used Book Shop. “Because we are a used book store, its just a matter of what we have in the shop.”

People can call the store at 703-435-9772 if they want to find out if a specific title is in stock.

Photo via Mahogany L. Browne/Facebook

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A South Lakes High School graduate decided to create an organization called Student Impact, attracting the attention of teachers around the East Coast looking for extra student opportunities.

Student Impact hosts writing contests, book drives for underprivileged kids, peer support groups and leadership programs, according to founder Ana Stanisavljev.

The program launched in April and is now introducing a new tutoring program next Tuesday, Stanisavljev said.

Though there will be a fee for most tutoring opportunities, Stanisavljev said that she is asking volunteers to also donate a few hours of their time a month to help students whose families cannot pay.

The program has gained traction outside of the Northern Virginia area. New Jersey public schools noticed the program and tweeted about it, letting students know about the upcoming writing contest.

The writing contest asks middle school and high school students to write a collection of stories between 500-1,000 words for young kids. Cash prizes will be given to finalists, and the deadline for submission is Friday, June 5.

This summer, Student Impact is gearing up for a high school leadership program that will help students build valuable skills, according to Stanisavljev.

“It’ll give them the opportunity to engage with their communities and actually have an impact,” she said.

Around 70 people are already involved in the program. People who are interested in volunteering can sign up online.

Though everyone is “involved on different levels,” according to Stanisavljev, she said people from college-age and up can apply to be in a tutor or mentor position.

“We are constantly coming up with new projects and initiatives to create resources for students and teachers, so stay tuned for even more opportunities,” Stanisavljev said.

Stanisavljev said she started the program as an immediate response to the needs of students and teachers struggling with distance learning but hopes it continues to grow depending on the needs of students.

Stanisavljev is currently studying business at the University of Virginia. She said that she wanted to launch this program to give back to her home community of Reston.

Photo courtesy Ana Stanisavljev

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Fairfax County put out an all-call for independent authors who want to submit their work to the Virginia Author Project Contest.

The statewide fiction contest allows people to compete for several prizes, according to Fairfax County.

To qualify, each submission must be independently published, either in the adult fiction or young adult fiction genre, written by a Virginia resident and available in certain file formats, the website said.

Prizes include:

  • $500 each in adult and young adult categories
  • Honors at the 2021 spring IAP Reception
  • Opportunities to promote your book(s) at Virginia public libraries
  • Inclusion in a full-page print spread in Library Journal
  • Opportunities to earn royalties through the IAP Select collection

Anyone interested can submit their work online before May 31.

Photo via Green Chameleon/Unsplash

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As people self-isolate and social distance, there are activities happening digitally to help fight the boredom and redundancy.

Fairfax County Libraries announced closures through March 29, but people who normally visit local libraries can check out free online resources including audiobooks and e-books.

Anyone with a library card can log into a system called Overdrive, which allows people to choose from a wide range of works from all genres.

Though some titles have limited availability and a waitlist, the system offers a list of popular titles available now.

The Brews and Books event at Lake Anne Brew House will take place online this week from 7 -8:30 p.m. on Saturday (March 21), according to the Facebook page. This week people will be talking about “Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity” the page said.

People can log onto Zoom to attend the event. The meeting “ID”  is 332 501 624 and the “password” is 649440.

Lake Anne Brew House also announced it will be able to deliver pretzels, food and beer to anyone who is interested.

Fans of musical theatre can stream broadway musicals online using Broadway HD, which lets people stream certain productions in the comfort of their own home. The company is offering a free 7-day trial but costs around $9 each month after that.

Photo via Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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Former Charlottesville Mayor, Michael Signer, will discuss the violence and aftermath of the infamous “Unite the Right” rally and his upcoming book “Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege” next week in Reston.

On March 19, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Signer will be at the Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive), giving a free talk for those interested in his first-person narrative of violence, according to the event description.

The book dives into the “terror and mayhem of the August 2017,” the event page said.

“Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege” is available for purchase beginning tomorrow (March 19). Readers can preorder online or visit Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) to pick up a copy tomorrow.

Several other publications have written about the aftermath of the Charlottesville violence in the past, but this in-depth look will explore the topic from a new perspective.

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