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Reston Movie Gets Airtime on ‘The Kojo Nnamdi Show’

Official Trailer: Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA from Rebekah Wingert-Jabi on Vimeo.

Reston filmmaker Rebekah Wingert-Jabi was on WAMU’s “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on Thursday to discuss Robert E. Simon’s vision for a new town in the Virginia countryside a half-century ago.

Wingert-Jabi, director of “Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA,” was visiting the show to promote the documentary, which will screen at the National Building Museum March 24 as part of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital.

Wingert-Jabi spoke about how Simon wanted dense housing as well as the beauty of nature when he founded Reston in the mid-1960s.

“When Robert E. Simon saw [the acreage that would be become Reston], what struck him most was natural beauty,” Wingert-Jabi said in response to Nnamdi’s question about Simon’s desire to break away from “Cul de sacs and cookie cutter homes.”

“He also said ‘we don’t have to to that,’ ” said Wingert-Jabi. ” ‘What about the idea of townhouses?’ If we put people together, maybe we can build a sense of community.’ And if you put lots of people together, you will also have lots of open space.”

Listen to the 17-minute interview on WAMU’s website.

Wingert-Jabi’s 70 minute film premiered in Reston last fall. It was edited from a rough cut shown to Restonians in 2014. The final version includes the milestone of Simon’s death last September at age 101.

Another Way of Living will screen at 6:30 p.m. on March 24 at the National Building Museum (401 F St. NW, Washington, DC). Admission to the festival is free.

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Reston Movie Now Available for Purchase on DVD

Another Way of Living/Credit: Virginia Film FestivalJust weeks after it screened at Reston Community Center and made its film festival debut at the Virginia Film Festival, the new Reston documentary can now be yours.

Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA is available for purchase at the Reston Historic Trust and Museum at Lake Anne Plaza for $24.95.

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, a Restonian, has been working on the documentary for more than four years. Wingert-Jabi and support staff shot more than 250 hours of footage and sifted through files of historical documents and photos at the Reston Museum to visually tell the story of Reston’s progress from a cow pasture purchased by New Yorker Bob Simon in 1961 to a pioneering “new town” — with some bumps along the way.

A rough cut of the 70-minute film was shown to a select audience in April 2014, during the celebration of Simon’s 100th birthday.

But since then, Metro’s Silver Line brought rail to Reston (in summer 2014) and Simon died in September 2015 at age 101. These significant events were included in the reworked version of the film.

“We wanted to flesh out key moments in Reston,” Wingert-Jabi said at last month’s screening of the film at RCC. “We wanted people to understand more of what happened in the years Simon wasn’t here (1967-92), about Mobil Land’s role in developing Reston Town Center.”

Read a recap of the film in this previous Reston Now article.

In addition to offering the movie, RHT has also just completed a new book focused on Reston’s past, present, and future. The book showcases images from the museum’s archives as well as text from exhibits to tell the story of Reston. That can be purchased at the museum for $18.95.

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Revamped Reston Movie is Clearer in Simon’s Mission, Mark on History

Another Way of Living/Credit: Virginia Film Festival

When a new version of Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston VA was shown to about 500 viewers at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods on Thursday, there were more than a few tears shed by audience members touched at seeing the final story of Reston founder Bob Simon, who died in September at age 101.

Director Rebekah Wingert-Jabi has been working on the documentary for nearly five years. A previous version was shown at RCC in April of 2014 during the celebration events of Simon’s 100th birthday and Reston’s 50th anniversary.

The newer version was shown at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville earlier this month. It will likely be screened again in Reston in April, as well as in future film festivals, said Wingert-Jabi.

Some major things have happened since the spring of 2014: Metro’s Silver Line finally opened (in July 2014), linking Reston — once considered “the end of nowhere,” as someone in the movie said — with downtown DC; the development in progress spurred by the transit system; and, of course, Simon’s death.

“We wanted to flesh out key moments in Reston,” Wingert-Jabi said of the revisions. “We wanted people to understand more of what happened in the years Simon wasn’t here (1967-92), about Mobil Land’s role in developing Reston Town Center.”

The final edit of the 70-minute film will make the movie more appealing to people less familiar with Reston. The previous version had many more original Restonians talking about the pioneer spirit in moving to Simon’s “new town” in the mid-60s. The point still gets across in the new version, but added is more historical and architectural context.

The film is big on historic photos and documents. There’s Simon and his sisters playing in Riverside Park in Manhattan and touring Europe, which served as the inspiration of his suburban community built around a town piazza.

There’s an original sketch of the Town Center concept from the 1960s, which looks like Walt Disney’s outline for Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Reston Town Center of course was eventually built, opening in the fall of 1990. It’s revolutionary street-grid design and downtown “anti-mall” in the suburbs gets proper credit in the film.

Getting from point A to today is also well explained. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger explains the “sense of ailenation” many suburbanites felt by the mid-1960s.

“Bob Simon said ‘I bet I can do it another way,’ ” Goldberger says.

So Simon, with the proceeds from selling his share of Carnegie Hall to the City of New York, purchased — on the cheap — about 7,000 acres of Virginia farmland. Simon envisioned high-density housing such as apartments and townhomes. That would leave room for more open space. Oh yes, and in Virginia, a southern state that closed the public schools rather than integrate them, we will make the community open to all. Fifty banks turned down Simon.

The movie explains why oil companies such as Gulf, and later Mobil, were involved in real estate at the time. They had tons of money to invest.

When it came to Reston, Gulf wasn’t earning it back fast enough. In 1967, Simon was fired, and much of Reston that came after Lake Anne Village Center and very early housing clusters was built in a more traditional suburban fashion.

The updated film also looks at the future. Will lower-income residents be priced out of homes here? What will new development around Wiehle-Reston East Metro look like?

And finally, how will Simon be remembered? Now that he has died, the footage of him taking his daily walks at Lake Anne, greeting neighbors and wisecracking not only captures his spirit for those who knew him, it will make a great archive for a new generation to meet him as well.

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Sneak Peek: ‘Another Way of Living’ Movie

“At one extreme you have the hermit — he gets his kicks out of solitude. I’m anti-Hermit. I get my kicks out of people.”

That’s the late Reston founder Bob Simon talking in this trailer for Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA, a documentary about Reston.

The documentary makes its film festival debut at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville on Nov. 7.

Award-winning filmmaker Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, of Reston, has been working on the film for more than two years.

The documentary explores founder Robert Simonʼs unique vision for American life. While 1950s post-war suburban sprawl prioritized single-family homes, Simon dreamed ʻanother way of livingʼ that valued community, nature and social equity.

Simon set out to build a suburban town that integrated citizens across racial and economic divides. It wasn’t always an easy ride.

“When you built a suburb, you weren’t building a bedroom, you were building a community,”says one of the architecture experts in the trailer and movie. “What Simon got was a thing that had been missing in suburban development.”

Check out the trailer for more highlights.

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Reston Movie Makes Its Film Festival Debut in November

Another Way of Living/Credit: Virginia Film Festival

Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA, a documentary about Reston, will make its film festival debut at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville on Nov. 7.

Award-winning filmmaker Wingert-Jabi, of Reston, has been working on the film for more than two years.

The documentary explores founder Robert Simonʼs unique vision for American life. While 1950s post-war suburban sprawl prioritized single-family homes, Simon dreamed ʻanother way of livingʼ that valued community, nature and social equity.

Simon set out to build a suburban town that integrated citizens across racial and economic divides. It wasn’t always an easy ride.

Many longtime Restonians are interviewed in the film, which also uses historical photos and items. Wingert-Jabi has filmed more than 250 hours of footage to create the 72-minute movie.

Wingert-Jabi says she hopes the legacy of Simon, who died last month at age 101, will live on through this film.

“The film shows how Simon’s vision was so powerful and touched upon such basic human values that it not only influenced the way the suburbs were developed in America but also guided the development of Reston over the last 50 years,” she says.

A rough cut of the film was screened for Reston VIPs in 2014 as part of Simon’s 100th birthday celebrations. Wingert-Jabi said much more work has been put into editing the film into its current format.

She said she is excited the film will be premiering here in Virginia.

“From the beginning, Reston was shaped by its Virginia context and it continues to grow in that context today,” she said. “The University of Virginia is an ideal setting to have a conversation about how Simon’s vision developed over 50 years and how it can inform community development moving forward.”

The screening will be followed by a conversation with Urban Land Institute Global CEO, Patrick Phillips; Virginia State Senator and Reston Resident, Janet Howell; Reston’s first salesman, Chuck Veatch; director Wingert-Jabi; and the University of Virginiaʼs Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, Tim Beatley.

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Tuesday: Another Look at “Another Way of Living” Movie

another way of livingWhat bits of Reston history didn’t make it into the movie Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA?

That some of what filmmaker Rebekah Wingert-Jabi will discuss Tuesday in a special program at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods.

Wingert-Jabi has been working on the documentary about Reston for several years. A first cut premiered in April of 2014, but Wingert-Jabi is still working on the final product, which she hopes will be considered for film festivals and public television stations.

Wingert-Jabi will update the progress of Another Way of Living and share some of the excerpts that landed on the cutting room floor during the editing process.

In the movie, Peabody Award Winner Wingert-Jabi — who grew up in Reston and now is raising her family here — takes a look at founder Bob Simon’s life and what inspired him to purchase more than 6,000 acres of Virginia farmland in 1961 and plan an urban-style “New Town” in an era of neat lawns and tract homes.

Through historical photos and footage, as well as interviews with longtime Restonains, the story looks at Reston’s impact as a groundbreaking inclusive community and its evolution into the place it is today.

The free program begins at 7:30 p.m.

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Come for the Master Plan Meeting, Stay for the Movie

Another Way of Living Logo Restonians will get a chance to see the rough cut of Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA, on Saturday.

The film will be screened Saturday at United Christian Parish (11508 N. Shore Dr.) following a community open house to discuss the Reston Master Plan Special Study Phase II. The community open house will feature Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The film, formerly titled The Reston Story, was screened for a select audience at Reston Community Center as part of Reston founder Robert E. Simon’s birthday 100th birthday celebrations in April.

The 70-minute film directed by Peabody Award winner Rebekah Wingert-Jabi looks at Reston’s founding in 1964 as an inclusive community “in the middle of nowhere,” to the vibrant place it is today.

Wingert-Jabi and producer Suzi Jones hope to enter the movie into film festivals.

County planners are beginning Phase II of the Reston Master Plan Special Study about two years behind schedule.

Phase I, which looked at the how development should proceed in the areas surrounding Reston’s upcoming Metro stations, was completed late last year and approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in January.

Phase II will look at what kind of changes — if any — should happen to Reston’s neighborhoods, village centers and convenience centers, as well as some areas adjacent to Reston. Lake Anne Plaza, which underwent is own rezoning and revitalization process from 2006-09, will not be part of the study.

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‘Another Way of Living’ Movie Shows Reston’s Pioneer Spirit

Reston Festival, 1960s/Credit: Reston Historic Trust

Reston founder Bob Simon’s idea for density and community was forged in a childhood apartment high above New York City’s Riverside Drive and in the green spaces of urban parkland.

Whether the idea was a good one, a not-so-good one, a half-hatched one or a groundbreaking one depends on who you ask.

And many people are asked — or at least answer — in the documentary Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA. The 70-minute film by director Rebekah Wingert-Jabi was shown at a VIP screening Saturday night at Reston Community Center as part of the Founder’s Day celebrations.

Wingert-Jabi, a Peabody Award winner who shot about 250 hours of film for the project, hopes to enter the movie into national film festivals. After that, it will be available for the public.

The movie looks at founder Simon’s life and what inspired him to purchase more than 6,000 acres of Virginia  farmland in 1961 and plan an urban-style “New Town” in an era of neat lawns and tract homes.

It didn’t always go that well.

“The vision was correct, but his timing was terrible,” says former Fairfax County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert, one of many planners, architects and citizens interviewed in the film. “Putting a town in the middle of a field – people didn’t know how to take this field of dreams.”

Indeed, Reston had many ups and downs to get to the place it is today, with 60,000 residents, excellent amenities, and an important business and retail hub. Fifty different banks originally turned down Simon for financing. And in 1967, After Lake Anne and some of Hunters Woods were built, Gulf Oil took over the struggling operation and fired Simon.

“How could they fire him?” longtime Restonian and chair of the Reston Community Center Board Beverly Cosham wonders in her on-camera interview. “He WAS Reston.”

Simon returned to New York, where he would stay for the next 30 years. Gulf, and later Mobil, would finish Reston, but much of the vision was watered down. Ideas for village centers like Lake Anne morphed into garden variety shopping centers and high-density housing in much of the community ended up being single-family housing subdivisions.

But the idea came back together by 1990, when the Dulles Toll Road made Reston more accessible and the opening of the Reston Town Center — another innovative (and to some, skeptical) idea in an era of enclosed shopping malls — helped cement Reston’s sense of place. Simon returned to stay shortly after.

The movie is ripe with archival footage, from old Life magazine articles and photos about Reston, to home movies at Lake Anne Plaza. Much of that came from residents, and it is the story of the residents that is a huge part of Reston’s history.

The movie talks to some of the originals and what drew them here: One felt isolated in a single-family house elsewhere in Virginia; others heard of the inclusive community in an era of segregation and packed up to live here and have a more egalitarian life. They are still here all these years later; the gamble paid off for them personally.

The pioneer spirit (and some trippy 1960s fashions) are at the heart of Another Way. At the brink of the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, Reston was starting from scratch. It could be anything it wanted. So it was.

Want a coffeehouse? Start one. Child care center? Gather some moms. An inclusive church focusing on good deeds for the community? Sure, open a couple. Theatre troupe? Put up a flyer and hold auditions. A commuter bus line to D.C. that features evening cocktails? Go for it.

The film also captures Simon’s personality, which is funny (seriously, several audience giggles) and feisty even on the brink of 100. The filmmakers follow him on his morning walk around Lake Anne, where he answers the question “How are you, Mr. Simon?” with a hearty “I’m healthy! And you?” every time.

As for the future, Simon admits he probably won’t be around to see what happens. Reston is on the brink again, this time as it prepares for Metro’s Silver Line to arrive in 2014 and some major redevelopment of Crescent Apartments, Fairway Apartments and other aging neighborhoods.

Will lower-income residents be priced out of housing? The movie spends too much time following one Crescent resident in a battle for access that really never was much of an issue. Will Metro double the population here and how will Reston handle the change? We may have to wait for the sequel.

Photo of early Reston Festival courtesy of Reston Museum.

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