Alexandria Living Magazine - Jan./Feb. 2019

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A Year of New Beginnings ALEXANDRIALIVINGMAGAZINE.COM January / February 2019


A Modern Day Wonder Woman Jillian Hogan enjoying a celebratory cocktail at her favorite Alexandria restaurant, Hummingbird Bar + Kitchen

Being the best real estate agent can sometimes mean needing superhero powers – endurance, adaptability and strength. Jillian Hogan not only uses these skills when working alongside her clients, she does so with grace and determination… At McEnearney our Associates take an authentic approach to assisting their clients in every step of the home selling and buying process because our Associates are more than just agents, they are extraordinarily tough, refined and able to get you to the closing finish line.

Jillian Keck Hogan Group, REALTOR® I tel. 703.951.7655 I 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 I tel. 703.549.9292 I B • January / February 2019

Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday at His Home, Mount Vernon! Join us this February for special events honoring the Father of Our Country as we commemorate his 287th birthday.

Birthnight Supper & Ball – Ticketed Event February 17 This black-tie fête honors the 287th birthday of our founding father and features an elegant three-course dinner, live auction, entertainment, and dancing. Organized by the Neighborhood Friends, the collection of Mount Vernon members who live in the area that once comprised George Washington’s original Five Farms, this pinnacle fundraiser supports the restoration of the Mansion façade.

Learn more and sign up for membership at or present this ad at the ticket counter to claim your $20 new member discount. For questions, email Kara Hershorin, membership manager, at

George Washington’s Birthday Celebration – FREE Admission February 18

Celebrate the national observance of George Washington’s Birthday by visiting his home and burial site FREE of charge on this day. Enjoy special military demonstrations and patriotic music. “General Washington” will be on the grounds to greet visitors and receive birthday wishes all day.

George Washington’s 287th Birthday – FREE Admission February 22 Observe a moving ceremony honoring new citizens and savor a piece of birthday cake.

Selling Alexandria Sue and Allison Goodhart Trusted. Proven. Respected.

600 Princess Street Alexandria, VA 22314 3BD | 3BA | 1HBA | $2,150,000

1115 Cameron Street, #405 Alexandria, VA 22314

713 Alfred Street N. Alexandria, VA 22314

3BD | 2BA | 1HBA | $1,450,000

3BD | 3BA | 1HBA | $995,000

Please contact us for more information on our listings or to discuss how we can help you achieve your real estate goals.

Sue and Allison Goodhart Realtor ÂŽ VA / DC / MD 703.362.3221

830 Snowden Hallowell Way Alexandria, VA 22314 Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Compass is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland. 106 N. Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.277.2152

3BD | 3BA | 1HBA | $839,999



Calendar of Events Read about events and activities that are coming to Alexandria.


Out and About Find out what it takes to put on Alexandria’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.



Dining A sneak peek at restaurants opening soon in Alexandria.

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Pets Keep your pup cozy this winter with these expert tips.


Health & Wellness Get some fresh air and exercise on the slopes this winter.


Profile Discover how Alexandrian Cristin Harber found success as a romance author.


Community Meet some of Alexandria’s award-winning volunteers.

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Education Is a private school in your family’s future?


Around Town Alexandria’s Visitor Center Garden gets a new sustainable redesign.


News Fairfax County has grand plans for Richmond Highway. New developments are also coming down the pike. Here’s a look.



Travel Pack up your cares and head west — to Loudoun County’s Wheatland Spring.

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The Last Word Find out how Elizabeth Keaney plays a young Martha Washington at Mount Vernon.

January / February 2019 •



RESIDENCE HAS A HISTORIC ADDRESS You’re invited to tour our first model townhome

Distinctive Waterfront Living • Old Town, Alexandria We just opened doors on two fully furnished model homes at Robinson Landing. These spacious townhomes feature distinctive brick façades with large-paned windows and design details that echo the site’s past on the historic waterfront. Four contemporary open floorplans offer rooftop terraces, three to five bedrooms, and approximately 2,300 to 3,020 square feet of living space with elevator and river view, available per plan.

New Townhomes from $1.725M to $2.295M and Waterfront Condominiums from $1.5M to $5.75M Open by appointment: call 703-263-8045 or visit

Features, finishes, and prices are subject to change without notice. EYA LLC, through its various development affiliates, builds homes in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC metropolitan area. References to “EYA” refer to EYA LLC. EYA Marketing LLC markets, advertises, and sells each EYA affiliated property as agent for the seller. Robinson Landing is being developed by RT South Associates LLC, RTS Homes Associates LLC, RTS Condo Associates LLC, and RT Parking Associates LLC, each responsible for certain specific components of the project (collectively the “Robinson Landing Development Entities”). The Robinson Landing Development Entities are each solely and exclusively responsible for its portion of the development of the Robinson Landing community. No representations regarding the development, construction or sale of any portion of the Robinson Landing community is made by EYA LLC or any EYA affiliate except the Robinson Landing Development Entities. Sales by EYA Marketing LLC, agent for RT South Associates LLC, RTS Homes Associates LL, and RTS Condo Associates LLC.


33 Looking Ahead Incoming Mayor Justin Wilson looks ahead; outgoing Mayor Allison Silberberg looks at her accomplishments.


42 Keeping the Bromance Alive All grown up but missing something? Maybe it’s your friends.

49 Home Organization It’s a new year and a great time to finally get organized. We take you through the steps.


Waterfront Park in Alexandria PHOTO BY CHRIS MILITZER

January / February 2019 •


A Letter from Our Founders PUBLISHER

Beth Lawton EDITOR

Mary Ann Barton MARKETING

Heidi Fielding Lora Jerakis Meredith Bonitt Marguerite Leopold DESIGN

Jessie Leiber PHOTO EDITOR

Chris Militzer

Alexandria Living Magazine is published six times per year by Alexandria Living, LLC © 2019. 106 N. Lee Street, Second Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314 For news stand or distribution locations or to subscribe for home delivery, go to

CONTACT US or call (571) 232-1310.


Alexandria Living Magazine fully supports the local business community and offers several unique ways to partner with the publication. • Sponsored articles and multimedia content on the website, in our popular email newsletters and on social media. • Highlighted events in our events calendar, email newsletters and social media. • Sponsored real estate listings. • Brand awareness through online banner ads designed to boost your business. • Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways.

To learn more about how partnering with Alexandria Living Magazine can help build your business, contact us at or call (571) 232-1310.


Send news releases and story tips to





Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed the holidays and got a chance to recharge, because there’s plenty more fun doings coming up in Alexandria — just check out our Calendar of Events starting on Page 8. Did you know Animal Planet named Alexandria one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation? It’s true, Alexandrians love to pamper their pets. With an especially snowy winter in the forecast, you’ll want to hear how you can keep your pup safe, stylish and warm! Check out “Canines on Ice,” on Page 20. And speaking of snowy days, you won’t want to miss where to hit the slopes nearby — just turn to Page 22 — where we give you nearly two dozen options for some winter fun. With an eye on Valentine’s Day, we’re bringing you a story that will warm your heart: Did you know we have a successful romance author in our midst? Read all about Cristin Harber’s road to romance writing on Page 24. And if you’re a guy wondering why it’s so darn hard to make friends, you’re not the only one! Be sure to check out how to find a buddy, in “Keeping the Bromance Alive,” on Page 42. With school underway, you might be wondering why anyone would be thinking about looking at schools for your child at this time of year. But if you’re considering private school, this is the time for touring schools at open houses, planning one-on-one visits and making some big decisions. Read about all the ins and outs of searching for a private school, beginning on Page 28. It’s an exciting time for Alexandria, with a lot of interesting businesses and development on the horizon and some of those who make it all happen behind the scenes are our hard-working local government officials. We take a look back and a look ahead at what’s going on in the city, in conversations with outgoing Mayor Allison Silberberg and incoming Mayor Justin Wilson, starting on Page 33. There’s even more going on just south of the city, along the Richmond Highway corridor. Read about Fairfax County’s vision for the future of this area that many also call “Alexandria,” on Page 39. • January / February 2019

Beth Lawton, publisher, and Mary Ann Barton, editor. Photo by Matt Mendelsohn, taken at Virtue Feed & Grain.

Looking to break up the work routine with a weekend getaway? We’ve got your travel plans right here, starting on Page 45, where you can read Photo Editor Chris Militzer’s musings on Loudoun County. He enjoyed a relaxing stay at Wheatland Spring’s Cottage B&B and checked out the nearby surroundings for you. We realize that every weekend can’t be spent relaxing. With the new year comes resolutions: Are you ready to tackle some projects? If one of your game plans is to finally organize your closets, get your plan of attack ready — from downsizing to hiring a pro — by reading our home organization article that starts on Page 49. In The Last Word, we hear from Elizabeth Keaney, who portrays a young Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. (And for the record, we love her idea of naming a road after Martha!) And lastly, we do want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce for the honor of naming Alexandria Living Magazine the winner of the “Rising Star” Best in Business Award for 2018. We can’t do it without our great team of designers, writers, photographers and marketing folks. Be sure to continue to check out our website,, where you’ll keep up to date on everything happening in Alexandria. Our next print issue arrives in March. See you then! Mary Ann Barton and Beth Lawton Founders

Meet Our Writers and Photographers





Isabelle Baldwin is a photographer and writer from western North Carolina, currently living in Washington, D.C. She received her BFA in Photography with a minor in Sustainability from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. She specializes in writing about visual arts as well as environmental, humanitarian and women’s issues, respectively. Her work has been published in the Catholic News Service, Aint-Bad Magazine and Oxford American. When she isn’t writing or photographing, she enjoys drinking an iced chai and cuddling with her dog, Luna.

Phil Creed is the founder of Covering The Corridor, an online news publication focused on the Richmond Highway area. A graduate of George Mason University, Phil has lived most of his life in Northern Virginia. When he’s not enjoying the outdoors with his wife and two girls, he enjoys searching for stories and learning more about the area’s rich history.

Angela Swartz is a freelance reporter based in San Francisco. She previously covered education at the San Mateo Daily Journal and technology at the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Her Daily Journal work garnered awards from The California Teachers Association and Peninsula Press Club. She interned at The Washington Post, The Investigative Reporting Workshop, All Things Digital (now Recode), and The Palo Alto Daily Post. Her work also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Palo Alto Weekly.

Chris Militzer is a Virginia photographer whose work has been featured by USA Today, the United States Department of the Interior, Visit Virginia and Visit Alexandria. As a travel photographer, Militzer has shot album covers in New York and performances in Paris. As a consultant and photographer, he has aided brands in their social media outreach. Militzer has lived in Alexandria, Virginia for 20 years where he resides with his wife and two daughters.





James Cullum has reported for over a decade for newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He’s a native of San Antonio, and has lived in and around Alexandria for decades. James listens to music while he writes, specializes in photographing people and loves his son Henry and dog Josephine more than anything. You can find him near the scene of the action with a driver’s cap, Ray Ban glasses and his camera.

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a former Gannett newspaper reporter and a full-time freelance journalist. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Family Circle, OZY, Quartz, Men’s Journal, The Week, Atlantic’s CityLab, CoveyClub and Arlington Magazine. She writes about the culture of work, personal finance, technology, and beer and spirits. She lives in Arlington with her husband and daughter. You can follow her on Twitter at @lisarab.

Susannah Herrada is a freelance writer living in Arlington. Her relatable, transparent style can find glamour in precast concrete or make finance feel accessible. When she’s not putting a scintillating spin on IT or DIY, Susannah hits the road. She logs the adventures and misadventures of family trips, along with collecting the stories of less heard voices from around the globe. Some of her bylines include Washingtonian Magazine, AAA Traveler Worldwide and Home & Design Magazine.

Jennifer van der Kleut (formerly McBride) is a mother of two who lives in Fairfax County. Originally from California’s San Francisco Bay Area, she graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from San Jose State University. She has worked as a reporter and writer for many publications such as,, ABC7 News/WJLA, Huffington Post,, and the Silicon Valley Community Newsgroup.

January / February 2019 •




Calendar of Events EVE N T K E Y Arts Film Food & Dining Family-Friendly Live Music Nightlife Pet-Friendly Recreation & Outdoor Shopping Theater


January City Council Installation Jan. 2 | 7 - 9 p.m. Installation of the newly elected Mayor and City Council. The ceremony will be held at T.C. Williams High School, in the school’s auditorium. Open to all. T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King St.,

Holidays at Mount Vernon Daily through Jan. 6 | 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The Mansion is (still!) decorated for the season and Aladdin the Christmas camel is in residence. Fun fact — George Washington paid 18 shillings to bring a camel to Mount Vernon for the enjoyment of his guests at Christmas. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Hwy., • January / February 2019


Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Jan. 11, 12 | 7:30 p.m. New Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Ricky Skaggs visits the Birchmere with his award-winning band. Tickets are $39.50. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave.,


The Fantasticks

Travis Tritt

Jan. 12 - Feb. 2 | Various Times

Jan. 15, 16 | 7:30 p.m.

Try to remember a time when your greatest adventure was the first romance of your life. This funny and sentimental musical is the deceptively simple tale of a boy, a girl and their meddlesome fathers who nudge them toward marriage by pretending to keep them apart. This long-running musical, with a nod toward Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, has been enchanting audiences with its universal themes and memorable songs, including the beautiful “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and “Try to Remember.” Tickets are $29-$34.

Country music singer and Real Country television show host Travis Tritt plays. Tickets are $75.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St.,

Cherry Challenge at Area Restaurants

The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave.

“Ritualisms” at The Target Gallery Jan. 19 - March 3 | Various Times Reception Friday, Feb. 8. Group art exhibition explores how rituals are an intrinsic part of the human experience. Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St.,

Jan. 26 | 10 a.m. The workshop will be an interactive event for community, staff and the Eisenhower West/ Landmark Van Dorn Advisory Group to work together. Lunch will be provided. Location TBD,

Jan. 12 | 10 a.m. 532Yoga presents a cooking class with Rupen Rao, a chef, teacher and author of several cookbooks. Prices start at $70.

In honor of George Washington’s birthday, participating Alexandria restaurants will create unique, cherry-centric dishes in celebration of one of the most cherished legends surrounding our first president. This year features dishes from dozens of restaurants from every area of Alexandria— Old Town, Del Ray, the West End, and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Diners rate their favorite dishes, and winners are given special recognition at the George Washington Birthday Parade.

Landmark Mall Re-Planning Process Workshop

A Culinary Adventure: Indian Cooking Class with Rupen Rao

Jan. 27 - Feb. 10

The Kingston Trio Jan. 27 | 7:30 p.m. The American folk and pop group of the 1950s and 1960s returns to the stage. Tickets are $45.

February Old Town Boutique District Warehouse Sale Feb. 2 Look for amazing deals at more than two dozen Alexandria boutiques under one roof. This is one of the most highly anticipated events by the region’s in-the-know shoppers. Check for all the details on the Old Town Boutique District website. Westin Hotel, 400 Courthouse Square,

The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave.,

532Yoga, 532 N. Washington St.,


2nd Thursday Art Night at the Torpedo Factory The second Thursday night of every month, stop by the Torpedo Factory Art Center for a variety of special events, openings and Torpedo Talks with local artists. This monthly, special afterhours event at the Torpedo Factory Art Center includes open studios and galleries, artist interactions and more. The Torpedo Factory Art Center was once the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. The facility was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes after WWI, it served as a munitions storage area, and it was the production site for submarine and aircraft torpedoes used in WWII.


Torpedo Factory Art Center, Old Town Alexandria,

January / February 2019 •


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Happy Birthday John Carlyle! A 1760s Celebration Feb. 2 | noon - 4 p.m. Join the Carlyle House as the museum wishes a very happy birthday to Alexandria town founder Col. John Carlyle. Festivities will include 18th-century dancing, live music, and a birthday treat! Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 N. Fairfax St.,

Walking with Washington Tour Feb. 3, Feb. 10 | 2 - 4 p.m. There are more than 140 places in Alexandria today associated with George Washington. This tour is designed to show you some of them and expand your knowledge of Washington, and historic Alexandria, his home town. View some of the sites connected to the General, like where he filled his prescriptions or slept overnight. Advance reservations are not required. Tour lasts about two hours. Alexandria Visitor Center (Ramsay House, 221 King St.),

Tell Me Your Name Feb. 3, Feb. 10 | 3:30 p.m. In 2017, Carlyle House Historic Park undertook a new research project to improve their knowledge and interpretation of the site’s enslaved population. Maddy McCoy, founder of Slavery Inventory Database, LLC, leads an illuminating tour on the new research of the enslaved community at Carlyle House. Join the conversation about identifying enslaved individuals and their communities and putting that into a historical and genealogical context. $10 tickets.


2019 Alexandria Wedding Showcase Feb. 17 | 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Couples can enter to win an unforgettable Alexandria wedding at the Third Annual Alexandria Wedding Showcase Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. This year’s event is bigger than ever with more than 60 vendors, a grand prize wedding giveaway, demonstrations, fashion show and destination experts ready to lend their expertise, all at an event benefiting Brides Across America, a national nonprofit that provides wedding gowns and entire weddings to both military and first responder couples nationwide. Couples planning to tie the knot in the D.C. region are invited to take the hassle out of wedding planning as they discover Alexandria’s history, waterside views and wide selection of world-class vendors, all in one place. Tickets are $20 for one ticket or $15 each for two or more tickets if purchased in advance and $25 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Join the conversation online by using #ALXWeddingShow. Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, 5000 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22311

Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 N. Fairfax St.,

January / February 2019 •



Arlo Guthrie Feb. 8, 9 | 7:30 p.m. Stories and songs from the American folk singer-songwriter. Tickets are $65. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave.,

Home Buying Seminar Feb. 9 | noon - 1:30 p.m. Are you, or someone you know, thinking about buying a home? Whether it’s your first home or second, do you know what kind of financing options are available? What’s the difference between getting pre-approved vs. pre-qualified? What happens in a multiple offer situation? Learn this and more.

George Washington’s Birthnight Banquet & Ball

Revolutionary War Day

Feb. 16 | 5:30 - 11 p.m.

Learn about the Army life and fighting tactics of Revolutionary War soldiers at this annual George Washington Birthday weekend event. Encampment activities begin at 10 a.m.; skirmish is at 2 p.m.

You are invited to the recreation of this famous celebration of Washington’s birthday set in the year 1799. The evening includes an 18th-century banquet, English country dancing, dessert collation, character re-enactors, plus the General and Mrs. Washington. Period costume optional; “after-five” attire encouraged. Advance reservations required. To purchase tickets, visit or call (703) 746-4242. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal St.

Feb. 17 | 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site, 4301 W. Braddock Road,

Three Dog Night Feb. 17 | 7:30 p.m. The rock band landed 21 Billboard Top 40 hits from 1969 and 1975. Tickets are $69.50 The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave.,

Port City Brewing Company, 3950 Wheeler Ave.



Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Feb. 9 | 8 p.m. and Feb. 10 | 3 p.m. New and old traditions collide in February with an exploration of the Classical-era symphony. The program centers on Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 “Prague,” one of his later and most eclectic symphonies, juxtaposed with Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1 “Classical,” written in homage to Mozart and Haydn and cited as one of the earliest pieces of the neo-classical era. The program will also feature soloists from the ASO for Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 and Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks. James Ross, conductor. Feb. 9 concert will be held at the Schlesinger Concert Hall, 4915 Netherton Dr. Feb. 10 concert will be held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Dr.

1964 The Tribute Feb. 14, 15 | 8 p.m. The Beatles tribute band comes to The Barns at Wolf Trap. Tickets are $38-$42.


George Washington Birthday Parade Feb. 18 | 1 p.m. Held each year on the third Monday in February, the annual George Washington Birthday Parade winds through a one-mile route on the historic streets of Old Town Alexandria on George Washington’s Day. It is the largest parade celebrating the birth of George Washington in the country. Call the 24-hour event line for lastminute details at (703) 829-6640.

The Barnes and Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road,

12 • January / February 2019

Old Town Alexandria

“Did You Know” presented by your Parker Gray specialist ...

Buying a home can be daunting; so little inventory to select from which forces you to make sacrifices and settle, intending to renovate at a later date, which few rarely do until it is time to sell. If you’ve been a subscriber to ALM perhaps you watched our story unfold and witnessed the possibilities?! My husband and I purchased 210 N. Payne St with a renovation loan — we borrowed the funds for the acquisition and renovation costs. The end result — a home we LOVE. I am consistently surprising people when I tell them how easy the process was. So, I decided to write about the secret to my success. Christine Sennott

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Washington’s Birthday Celebration Feb. 18 | All day

Washington family share stories about past celebrations of the General’s birthday, including the first public celebration and the gathering during the winter encampment at


Witness a presidential tribute featuring honored guests and a wreathlaying at Washington’s Tomb. Listen to remarks given by esteemed speakers during the official observance ceremony of George Washington’s birthday. The Old Guard concludes the ceremony with a gun salute to the first president. Watch Continental soldiers of the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard conduct a marching drill, fire their guns and charge at their enemy in an exciting military demonstration on the bowling green. After the smoke clears, listen to the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play patriotic music.

Valley Forge. All day long, pose like George

Home with the Herberts

Washington in front of a life-sized version of

March 2 | noon - 4 p.m.

Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne painting in the

John Carlyle’s son-in-law, William Herbert, immigrated to America from Ireland and married Sarah Carlyle. He became an influential merchant, banker, and politician in Alexandria, resigning as Mayor on the eve of the War of 1812. Step back in time to see what life was like in the 19th century in Alexandria, and to learn more about this part of Carlyle’s family life. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Celebrate with Mount Vernon’s costumed characters on the bowling green with dancing and huzzahs. Listen to the

museum’s Junior Docents about the place

Education Center Lobby. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Hwy.,

Free Tours of Gadsby’s Tavern Feb. 18 | 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. During Washington’s Birthday Celebration day, stop in at the tavern for a free tour. Learn from costumed guides and the George Washington dined and danced. 134 N. Royal St.

Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 N. Fairfax St.,

“The Exuberance of Life” Art Exhibition by Ann Pickett March 6 - April 7 Opening Reception, March 14 | 6:30 - 8 p.m. Painter Ann Pickett’s “The Exuberance of Life,” will feature a series of paintings that interweave abstract expressionism with figurative work. According to Pickett, “The pieces work individually as well as collectively and move as a continuum from canvas to canvas, as time moves in a cyclical fashion; self to setting, figure to landscape, ebb to flow.”



Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St.,

Ongoing Del Ray Farmers’ Market Every Saturday | 8 a.m. - noon


St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday, March 2 | 12:30 p.m. The Ballyshaner’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town Alexandria kicks off a festive month for residents. The annual parade will feature more than 100 bagpipers as well as an array of classic cars, dogs, dignitaries and local organizations proudly wearing green. The day also includes a “fun” dog show supporting the Alexandria Animal Welfare League, a classic car show and more. Old Town Alexandria

14 • January / February 2019

The Del Ray Farmers’ Market is a food and plant-focused market in one of Alexandria’s most fun neighborhoods. During the peak season, there are more than 20 farmers. Pat Miller Square, Mt. Vernon Ave.

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Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Takes More than Luck to Pull Off The first weekend in March brings out the Irish in Old Town. BY LISA RABASCA

It takes more than the luck of the Irish to hold a successful St. Patrick Day’s Parade in Alexandria. When the 38th annual parade kicks off on March 2, it will feature more than 100 bagpipers as well as an array of classic cars, dogs, dignitaries and local organizations proudly wearing green. The event is possible thanks to the Ballyshaners, a local organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Old Town’s

16 • January / February 2019


Irish history. The all-volunteer, non-profit group was founded in 1980 with the explicit purpose of organizing a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town, and in fact, Ballyshaners is Gaelic for “Old Towners.” Old Town’s Irish history dates back to the Revolutionary War and Colonel John Fitzgerald, who emigrated from Ireland in 1769 and later ran a mercantile business in Alexandria. Fitzgerald was a major in the 3rd Virginia Regiment in 1776 and joined Washington’s staff as an aide-de-camp. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in 1981. Since then, it has grown to include a festival as well as a dog show and a car show. “In the very early days, the parade route was quite short; only a few blocks,” said Kim Moore, Ballyshaners chairman. “Now, it spans a much larger portion of King Street.” To hold the parade, the Ballyshaners must raise about $50,000


“We bring thousands of people into Old Town with the parade.” to cover costs, Moore said. In addition to corporate sponsors, the Ballyshaners rely on personal donations, both large and small. The City of Alexandria also supports the event through the participation of its police and sheriff departments and by providing resources including a mobile stage, parade permits and the use of Market Square, at 301 King Street, for the dog show, Moore said. The city also shares half the cost of the police and public safety expenses. “We bring thousands of people into Old Town with the parade,” Moore said. “Many restaurants say that parade day is their busiest day of the year.” While the Ballyshaners are happy to show off Old Town to new visitors, they’re most proud of sponsoring a family-friendly event. “St. Patrick’s Day is often an adult day,” said 2018 Parade Captain John Bryk. “But we have the parade the first weekend in March and it’s a big family thing. It was designed that way from the beginning, to be one of the big community draws in Old Town.” Bryk’s has been parade captain for several years and he’s been marching in the parade since 2006. As captain, his job has been to ensure that spectators lined up along King Street are entertained — and stay safe. For instance, Bryk makes sure that no one accidentally walks in front of a fire truck or gets in the way of the nearly dozen bright orange Kena 500 mini-Corvettes driven in formation by the Shriners. Bryk also determines the parade’s timing and flow. He said it’s best not to mix dogs and horses, and nervous terriers don’t do well marching behind bagpipers. Bryk also makes sure any children marching appear in the parade early so they can watch the last half of the parade with their parents. For more information on the parade coming up in March, go to January / February 2019 •


18 • January / February 2019


A Look Ahead Alexandria’s Changing Dining Scene BY MARY ANN BARTON

Alexandrians love trying new restaurants and there are plenty of options on the horizon. Here’s a look at some new eateries that have recently opened their doors (or are coming soon... be on the lookout).

Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week Returns

Bonchon Chicken: The long-delayed construction of the eatery with a cult following on Richmond Highway may finally be back on track. Permits were issued in the fall to a contractor working on the site, and a company representative said that the popular Korean-style fried chicken chain still plans to open a new location in the first-floor retail space of the Beacon of Groveton. “Our Alexandria location is still underway,” said Carlene Blair, a spokeswoman for Bonchon.

Vim and Victor: Located just a few miles from Alexandria in Springfield, this eatery is the brainchild of celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn. The all-day restaurant inside the St. James — the massive sportsplex that opened last fall in Springfield — includes a market café, lounge, communal tables and bar. Menu options include specialty pastas, salads, smoothies, juices, coffee and more. Grab-and-go and full-service seated dining are available. Catering may also be in the offing. The restaurant is located at 6805 Industrial Road, Springfield.

Oak Steakhouse: Each Oak Steakhouse has its own locally sourced menu and seasonal offerings, as well as American-inspired “Oak Specialties” such as the Oak burger, roasted local chicken, crab cakes, short ribs and more. Coming to the Gables Old Town/EDEN development at 530 First St. in Old Town North, the restaurant will seat 146 people. Owners are Stephen Palmer of Charleston, S.C., Andrew O’Keefe of Madison, N.J. and Michael Meyer of New York. The restaurant is being designed by Studio 3877, a boutique design firm in DC. There are currently Oak Steakhouse locations in Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston, Nashville and next year in Raleigh.

Is there an Alexandria restaurant you’ve always


been meaning to try?

Java Grill: A new owner is taking over the space at 611 King St., where the Bread & Chocolate cafe is located. Bread & Chocolate has been open in that spot for decades. The new owner plans to open a restaurant called Java Grill and plans to make few (if any) changes to the menu. The menu will continue to offer coffee, pastries and light fare. Hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. See more about the new restaurant at

Misha’s: Misha’s is moving forward on opening a second coffee house at 6 Prince St., near the waterfront, and that location may have rooftop dining. The coffee shop would have a total of 48 seats, with no more than 28 of those outdoors. The outdoor hours of operation for the new Misha’s location would be 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Misha’s is also still planning to move its original coffee shop from its current location at 102 S. Patrick St. to 917 King St. — just around the corner. Misha’s has been on S. Patrick Street since 1991. The operation would remain the same, but the new location would be much larger, with more seats.

Dozens of Alexandria restaurants will be participating in this year’s Winter Restaurant Week, set for Jan. 18-27. Foodies will have plenty of choices during 10 days of dining deals for brunch, lunch and dinner offered across the City. Local chefs from Old Town to Del Ray and Carlyle to the West End will showcase their specialties. Diners will have their choice of everything from fine dining to casual neighborhood faves. Alexandria Restaurant Week was launched in 2009 by Visit Alexandria and has become a much-anticipated event taking place each winter and summer. In addition to helping bolster business at Alexandria restaurants, the event gets the word out about the city’s great reputation as a culinary destination.

Taj of India: The Indian eatery was expected to open its doors in December, owner Shahjahan Mia said last fall. Residents have been looking forward to the restaurant’s opening since signs for Taj of India were installed in August 2017. The building, located at 6027 Richmond Highway, is connected to the Virginia Lodge motel and has been empty since Euro Bistro closed in 2015. January / February 2019 •



Canines on Ice How to care for your pet during the colder winter months BY ANGELA SWARTZ


Some dogs can’t get enough of the snow, and others won’t set a paw outside in it. Either way, pets need extra care as the temperatures drop and the sidewalks get coated with snow, ice, and salt and sand treatments. Fur coats aren’t always enough to keep a dog warm in the winter months and how a pet tolerates cold weather depends on the animal’s size, weight, coat type and overall health. At 45°F, young, old or sick animals can begin to suffer health consequences from the cold, according to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA). When the temperature hits 32°F, pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need access to a heated and well-insulated structure with blankets or

20 • January / February 2019

dry straw that’s raised off the ground and protected from wind and precipitation. As usual, animals will also need access to food and non-frozen water, according to AWLA. “There are a lot of misconceptions (about how to care for pets during the winter),” said Gina Hardter, a senior manager of AWLA. Owners should also keep in mind that the salt used to melt ice from sidewalks and sand used for traction can be dangerous to dogs. The salt contains chemicals that can irritate a dog’s paws or be harmful if ingested. Owners should wipe off their dog’s paws after walks to avoid ingestion of chemicals on their paws, said Teri Grow, who owns holistic pet store PetSage in Alexandria. Consider shortening walks if it’s too cold outside, AWLA recommends. Especially if it’s raining, sleeting or snowing, many dogs will benefit from a water-resistant coat. Some pets will also tolerate wearing booties to protect their paws from snow, ice, salt and sand. Some pets may develop health issues over the winter, just like people do, because they are exercising less, said Grow. “If they’re working (out) less, they can gain weight,” said Grow, who specializes in care for dogs and cats, and is a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. “It can be such a problem for mobility and health issues.”

Personal Checking Cold weather can also cause joint pain, especially in older animals. Grow recommends underwater treadmills, exercise gyms or doggy daycare for pets during the winter (if they’re sociable with other pets). Acupuncture and massage can help alleviate joint pain, as well, Grow said. If pets are showing more signs of arthritis pain with cooler temperatures, Grow recommends owners add omega-3 fatty acid supplements to protect their joints. Herbal therapies with turmeric can help with inflammation. She said these oils can also help with their skin, which loses moisture from indoor heat. She also recommends fresh water in multiple places, as the heater can also make them thirstier. If the snow and ice make your pets fur a bit matted, Grow recommends brushing pets’ fur with wooden or natural bristle brushes with fish oil. In case of a power outage or heat outage, pets need the same care as people — extra layers and blankets. If the power or heat are out for an extended period of time, the Alexandria area has no shortage of pet-friendly hotels and short-term rental homes.

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Obtain proper equipment. Be sure to have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a local ski shop. You can rent good ski or snowboarding equipment at resorts. When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant. Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and drawstrings that can be adjusted for comfort and to keep wind out. Be sure to buy quality clothing and products.

Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. For example, dress in polypropylene underwear (top and bottoms), which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and keeps you warm. Wear a turtleneck, sweater and jacket.

Be prepared. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Bring a headband or hat with you to the slopes, 60 percent of heat-loss is through the head. Wear gloves or mittens (mittens are usually better for those susceptible to cold hands).

Wear sun protection. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think, even on cloudy days!

Always wear eye protection. Have sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you can see. Once you’re on the slopes, here’s what you need to know, according to NSAA:

Snow Days Where to Hit the Slopes Nearby BY MARY ANN BARTON

Whether you’re a family wanting to hit the bunny slopes or a snow-ski aficionado, there are plenty of winter ski resorts within driving distance of Alexandria where you can have some downhill fun. Some also offer inner tubing, sledding, ice skating, snowboarding and snow-shoeing. And most offer plenty of aprés ski activities and lodging nearby. Looking to ski with a group? Check out membership in local ski clubs Potomac Valley Skiers, the Fagowees Ski Club and the Pentagon Ski Club. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) has loads of tips for snow skiers. Here’s what to keep in mind before you go:

Get in shape. Don’t try to ski yourself into shape. You’ll enjoy skiing more if you’re physically fit.

22 • January / February 2019

• Take a lesson. Like anything, you’ll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The best way to become a good skier or snowboarder is to take a lesson from a qualified instructor. • The key to successful skiing/snowboarding is control. To have it, you must be aware of your technique, the terrain and the skiers/snowboarders around you. Be aware of the snow conditions and how they can change. As conditions turn firm, the skiing gets hard and fast. Begin a run slowly. • If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope. • The all-important warm-up run prepares you mentally and physically for the day ahead. • Drink plenty of water. Be careful not to become dehydrated. • Curb alcohol consumption. Skiing and snowboarding do not mix well with alcohol or drugs. • Know your limits. Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly and in control. Stop before you become fatigued and, most of all have fun. • If you’re tired, stop skiing. In this day and age of multi-passenger gondolas and high-speed chairlifts, you can get a lot more time on the slopes compared to the days of the past when guests were limited to fixed grip chairlifts.






new york



2 5


11 9



12 1



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Maryland 1




Camelback Resort


Hidden Valley Resort

One Craighead Drive Hidden Valley, Pa. 15502

 3 hours, 10 minutes  3.5 stars, 34 reviews


Seven Springs Mountain Resort 777 Waterwheel Dr. Seven Springs, Pa.

 3 hours, 30 minutes  3 stars from 162 reviews

 4 hours, 20 minutes  3.5 stars, 83 reviews 19


 3 hours, 10 minutes  3.5 stars, 28 reviews 20

1822 Resort Dr. McGaheysville, Va. 22840


Wintergreen Resort

Route 664 Wintergreen, Va. 22958

 3 hours  3 stars, 73 reviews

White Grass

643 Weiss Knob Ski Road Davis, W.Va. 26260

Massanutten Resort

 2 hours, 30 minutes  2.5 stars, 281 reviews

Timberline Four Seasons Resort 254 Four Seasons Dr. Davis, W. Va. 26260

Omni Homestead Ski Slopes  3 hours, 45 minutes  3.5 stars, 230 reviews

Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort 10 Snowshoe Drive Snowshoe, W. Va. 26209

Bryce Resort

7696 Sam Snead Hwy. Hot Springs, Va. 24445

Roundtop Mountain Resort  2 hours, 10 minutes  3.5 stars from 54 reviews

 4 hours, 40 minutes  4 stars from 36 reviews


 2 hours  3.5 stars from 23 reviews 14

Canaan Valley Resort

230 Main Lodge Road Davis, W.Va. 26260

1982 Fairway Dr. Mt. Jackson, Va. 22842

925 Roundtop Road Lewisberry, Pa. 15557

344 Elk Mountain Road Union Dale, Pa. 18470



Nemacolin Woodlands Resort  3 hours, 10 minutes  3.5 stars from 117 reviews



 3 hours, 10 minutes  4 stars, 43 reviews


1001 Lafayette Dr. Farmington, Pa. 15437

 4 hours, 10 minutes  3 stars, 287 reviews

Elk Mountain Ski Resort

 2 hours  3.5 stars from 134 reviews

Montage Mountain Resorts

 4 hours  3.5 stars from 40 reviews

193 Resort Dr. Tannersville, Pa. 18372


13805 Blairs Valley Road Mercersburg, Pa. 17236

1000 Montage Mountain Road Scranton, Pa. 18507

 3 hours  3.5 stars from 17 reviews

West Virginia

Whitetail Resort

Liberty Mountain Resort

 1 hour, 30 minutes  3.5 stars from 129 reviews

1424 Overland Pass Claysburg, Pa., 16625



78 Country Club Trail Carroll Valley, Pa. 17320


Blue Knob Resort

Jack Frost/Big Boulder


 3 hours, 50 minutes  3.5 stars, 63 reviews

296 Marsh Hill Road McHenry, Md. 21541



357 Big Boulder Dr. Lake Harmony, Pa. 18624

Wisp Resort

 3 hours  3 stars from 110 reviews



 3 hours, 10 minutes  4.5 stars, 27 reviews 21

Winterplace Ski Resort

100 Old Flat Top Mountain Road Ghent, W.Va. 25843

 5 hours  3 stars, 19 reviews

January / February 2019 •



Alexandrian Turns Up the Heat as Romance Author BY MARY ANN BARTON

Everyone knows that Virginia is for lovers. Alexandria? Even more so. For several years, the city has hit the top spot as the most romantic city in the country, according to Amazon. The company bases its rankings on sales data, including purchases per capita of romance novels. Romance author Cristin Harber, an Alexandria resident, must be in the right place. The former political consultant started self-publishing romance novels five years ago after getting written off by traditional publishers and agents, and she hasn’t looked back. Harber has published about 25 novels and enjoyed success right out of the gate, selling 30,000 copies of her first book the first month she self-published on Amazon. You can also find her books on Apple and at Barnes & Noble. The Alexandria native began writing at an early age. “I grew up right off of Janney’s Lane, went to St. Mary’s and Bishop Ireton High School, Class of ‘99,” she said one morning over coffee. “I’ve always written stories, from the time I was a tater tot.” Her mother, Patricia, perhaps sensing her daughter’s future, saved a certificate Cristin won in 6th grade from her teacher — “most likely to become an author one day.” While attending Bishop Ireton, Harber received a call from the University of Louisville, in Kentucky, asking her to come check out the campus for a

24 • January / February 2019

weekend. “I went out there and it’s like everything clicked,” she said. “It felt right.” She returned and told her parents she was seriously considering attending the school. She did, and studied business. After graduation, she volunteered for a political campaign in Kentucky and ended up working in state government. While she enjoyed the work, which involved traveling the state, she eventually ended up returning to Virginia. She worked in politics in DC. Throughout those first jobs, “the entire time, I had been writing stories,” she said. While waiting for a prescription at the CVS on Duke Street, Harber picked up a copy of “Renegade” by Laura Leigh and started reading it. “It was the most magical thing I’d ever read,” she said. She bought the book and went to the library, holding “Renegade” and asked: “Do you have more of this?” Romance writing, Harber said, revolves around a “central plot that is a love story, but it’s not just gratuitous.” She joined Romance Writers of America (RWA) and went to workshops and writers clinics. “I wrote some ‘romance thrillers’ that have never seen the light of day,” she said with a laugh. She typed left-handed while holding onto her infant daughter who didn’t want to be put down. Eventually she was ready to publish but soon got caught in a Catch-22 of trying to get an agent in order to get published. Easier said than done. “I pitched and I pitched and I pitched,” she said. She went to a pitch event in New York where a “big-name publisher” told her “I love that. Who’s your agent?” But after several stops and starts of trying to secure an agent, almost a year went by. After attending a romance writing conference in the summer of 2013 in Atlanta,

“All you need to do is have a great book and a plan.”

Harber was motivated to try self-publishing with KDP — Kindle Direct Publishing — where she’d have more control over her work and could get her books out to readers faster. She noticed several workshops on self-publishing at the conference were packed; six months pregnant, she elbowed her way in and scribbled down 50 pages of notes. She wanted to get her business up and running before a scheduled C-section in late October. After asking the agents to pull her books from consideration, she quickly got to work and created Mill Creek Press using LegalZoom; her cousin created a logo. “All you need to do is have a great book and a plan,” she said. “I devised this plan that I would take everything that I’d been writing and publish it myself.” She decided to publish five books, dubbed the Titan Series, that were part of a series featuring love stories based on a black-ops type organization. She found an artist online, The Killion Group, to create her book covers. For cover story ideas, she headed to Barnes & Noble in Clarendon to check out the cover art of their romance novels. She asked customers which covers they liked best, made notes and passed them along to the artist. It was a welcome change from the slow-moving process and constant delays she had experienced with traditional publishing. She launched in September 2013, selling about 200 books; in October, she was tracking sales every day and sold 30,000 books. Her success was “even greater than my ‘pie-in-the-sky’ projections,” she said. Harber loves the business of self-publishing almost as much as writing. She caught the entrepreneurial spirit watching her parents run their own business, CMS Services, a property management company, which they sold before retiring. “Gosh, I learned so much from them. They started their business when I was 4 or 5,” she said. After a stint at horse camp one year as a kid, she came home and wrote up a business plan for how to run her own horse camp. That interest in business at an early age has ended up paying off. Harber is now a New York Times bestselling author who has self-published nearly 25 books and taught herself book-formatting and marketing as well. She is currently working on her next series, “The Savior.” January / February 2019 •



Volunteers The Heart of Alexandria Volunteer Alexandria recently recognized some special Alexandria residents at its annual Heart of Alexandria event, commending them for their outstanding service to the city. Those recognized for going the extra mile as volunteers in the community are James Durham, recipient of the Marian Van Landingham Lifetime Achievement Award; Jane Powell, recipient of the Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award; Odalis del Cid Reyes, recipient of the Youth Volunteer Service Award; Celia Boertlein, recipient of the RSVP Northern Virginia Award, and Marjorie Windelberg, recipient of the Emergency Preparedness Award. “It is important for us organizations to appreciate and recognize our volunteers,” said Marion Brunken, executive director of Volunteer Alexandria. “They serve as the very heart and soul of this city. It’s due to their generosity that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in Alexandria.” Here’s a little bit about the folks who are lending a helping hand: Marian Van Landingham Lifetime Achievement Award JAMES (JIM) DURHAM

Durham, a West End resident, is the president of Durham, LLC. Prior to his job at Systems Planning and Analysis, Inc (SPA) in Alexandria, he served 26 years in the U.S. Navy in submarine command and intelligence operations. Durham is very passionate about making Alexandria streets safe, particularly for people who walk and bike. Since 2016, he has worked with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) to encourage walking and biking to school, through a growing Safe Routes to School Program – currently at 12 participating ACPS schools. Durham has been the chair of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) since 2014. Durham also works toward Alexandria becoming a healthier place and has served as a


steering committee member on the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria (PHA) since 2014. Durham is also currently a member of Eisenhower West/ Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group. The Advisory Group provides guidance to staff on the infrastructure and funding plans and related follow up studies as outlined in the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan and the Landmark Van Dorn Corridor Plan. He is also a member of his civic association board and was one of eight citizen members of a recently completed Central Alexandria Traffic Study Task Force. Durham and wife Carey’s two daughters and their families, including six grandchildren, also live in the West End of Alexandria. Youth Volunteer Service Award ODALIS DEL CID

For the last two years, del Cid Reyes has volunteered in many capacities with The Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP), contributing 100+ hours each year. ACAP works to prevent teen pregnancy through culturally and age appropriate education, advocacy, technical assistance, direct service prevention programs and public awareness. Over the past two summers, del Cid Reyes created and delivered a workshop about mental health for ACAP’s Youth Leadership Conference and inspired participants with her own story of overcoming mental health challenges. Recently, she served on a youth panel for the Children and Youth Master Plan (CYMP) Youth Empowerment • January / February 2019

committee and volunteered to serve as a chair of the work group going forward. Additionally, del Cid Reyes has a leadership role in the Youth Leadership Conference and the Keep It 360 Club at T.C. Williams, making the club’s work more vibrant and expanding its reach in the T.C. Williams student community. As Helen Morris says: “Odalis’s leadership and volunteer work come from her heart, and that makes her powerful and effective. She is a rising star in our community.” RSVP Northern Virginia Award CELIA BOERTLEIN

Boertlein, an Alexandria resident, joined the RSVP-Northern Virginia in June 2016. RSVP is a federal program, managed through a local partnership between Volunteer Alexandria, Volunteer Arlington and Volunteer Fairfax and responds to community needs. The program provides individualized support to connect adults 55-plus with service opportunities that impact local needs and result in healthy and vibrant communities. Individuals choose how, where and how often they want to serve, with commitments ranging from a few hours a couple of times a year to 40 hours per week. Since joining, Boertlein volunteered for several different organizations including Huntley Meadows Park and Martha Washington Library. Huntley Meadow’s staff described Boertlein as a dedicated, hardworking and positive volunteer who ensures excellent nature experiences for visiting children. Boertlein’s impact is felt by

many beyond program attendees. Since 2014, Boertlein has volunteered for the Martha Washington Library, assisting the Circulation Department with daily operations including processing patron holds, retrieving items from the stacks to be sent to other libraries, shelving books, and generally helping to keep the library tidy and organized. Boertlein, who is known to be always cheerful, energetic and willing to pitch in with just about any project or task that needs attention, has contributed over 500 hours total. Boertlein goes above and beyond and steps in to keep the department running. Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award JANE POWELL

For the past 3.5 years, Powell has served as the vice chair of the Dream Project Board of Directors and chairs the Fundraising and Technology committees. The Dream Project’s mission is to empower students whose immigration status creates barriers to their education by working with them to access and succeed in college through scholarships,

mentoring, family engagement and advocacy. This past year, the Dream Project awarded 95 renewable college scholarships to high achieving “Dreamers” and served 40 high school seniors through the mentoring program. As a small organization with 1.5 staff members, the board must step in to accomplish operational tasks. Powell is an expert project manager and organizes the workflow for fellow board members and staff. Her outstanding writing and editing skills helped to steadily increase foundational funding received each year. Her emphasis on stewardship of individual donors helped to increase funding from individual donors. When the former executive director stepped down, Powell’s service and dedication to the organization’s mission allowed for a smooth transition. Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Service Award 2018 MARJORIE WINDELBERG

Windelberg, an Alexandria resident, has an extensive background in information technology, cyber security management

and teaching graduate courses covering topics in information assurance, homeland security, and resilience / disaster response and recovery. She is an active volunteer for the Alexandria Citizen Corps Council (CCC) and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The CCC was established under the City Code in 2005 to advise and support the City Council of Alexandria to help Alexandria minimize the impact of disaster through prevention, preparation, and effective response measures. CERT educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Volunteer Alexandria is in the business of helping Alexandrians give back to the community with their whole heart, through volunteering. The group makes connections between volunteers and nonprofits or city agencies needing assistance. See what you can do! Check out their website at:

Congratulations Peter Crouch for the 2018 Senior Real Estate Specialist® (SRES) Outstanding Service Award Proud Sponsor & Volunteer for At Home In Alexandria and Mount Vernon at Home, Alexandria’s Senior “Villages”

Moving can become more stressful as we mature. Downsizing is definitely a Life Transition – NOT just a Real Estate transaction! It is planning, mental preparation, organizing/de-cluttering, teaming up with Family and Advisors. The Good News: There is a definite Process!! If you are weighing the pros and cons of such a move, we are happy to brainstorm with you. When you call or email, we will send you a packet designed to get you started. Just ask for our “Complete Move” packet.

Peter B. Crouch, 50 & Better Moving Specialist Senior Real Estate Specialist® I NVAR Lifetime Top Producer 703.244.4024 | | 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.549.9292 January / February 2019 •




You’ve had a nagging feeling in the back of your mind for some time that your child just isn’t flourishing at your local public school academically, socially, or both. You think, maybe, in a different environment, your child could really excel. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about private school. A few Google searches later, you’re in way over your head. There are countless private schools in the D.C. metro area (more than 30 private and parochial schools in the Alexandria area alone), of all different varieties — same-sex, co-ed, religious, progressive, STEM-focused — and then there are the schools that cater to the likes of the children of presidents.

28 • January / February 2019

How are you supposed to pick the best one for your child? Organizations like the Virginia Association for Independent Schools (VAIS) and the Private School Review say there are largely four main criteria that you can use to help evaluate nearby schools, and help you narrow down the list of options: practical needs, specialized needs, location and cost.

EVALUATING YOUR FAMILY’S NEEDS Practical needs include evaluating how your family will handle the school’s schedule, commute and routine around the needs of any other children you may have, as well as what kind of transportation your child will need and how it gels with parents’ work schedules. If you and your spouse or co-parent will need before- and after-school care, does this school offer it or partner with any business or organization that does? Are you adverse to


a school that requires uniforms, or would you welcome it? What other needs does your family have that the ideal school will need to satisfy or work with? Then there are the specialized needs that you desire for your child. What will the ideal school for your child look like? Is it a school with a robust science or technology curriculum? Is it a school known for its music or performing arts? Is it a religious school? Do you think a same-sex campus or co-ed campus would be better for your child? Or is your child a budding sports star who needs a top-notch athletics program? Location and cost are common-sense criteria that most families think of first — how far are you willing to travel every day to get your child to and from school, if they aren’t old enough to travel on their own? And, how much can your family realistically afford to pay per year to send your child to the right school?

HOW TO CHOOSE THE ‘BEST’ SCHOOL It’s no wonder that entire businesses have cropped up in our area over recent years that do nothing but help families find and choose the best schools for their children. One such business is the Alexandria-based firm Independent School Options (ISO), founded by Leigh Cahill. ISO employs a number of educational consultants who meet with families and learn more about their desires and needs, and help match them with the best schools in the area that fit the student, public or private. Families can pay for as much hands-on consulting as they desire, even having their consultant walk them through the entire application/admissions process from beginning to end if they choose. Sometimes, Cahill explained, that service starts with teaching a family the difference between the “best school,” and the “best school for their child.” For example — yes, Barron Trump attends The Potomac School in Maryland, and the Obama daughters attended (Sasha is still a student there) Sidwell Friends in D.C., so those schools are obviously very prestigious (and pricey) — but that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for every child.

“The last thing you want is to place your child in an environment where the academics are too tough, and the pressure is too severe,” Cahill said. “It’s best to find out where your child’s true talents and passions lie, and find the best school to fit that niche.” The Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), which provides an accreditation program for independent schools in the Commonwealth, agrees. “No two children are the same. Finding the right fit for your child means aligning the school’s mission and values with your own, as well as taking into account the temperament, interests, intellectual ambition and personality of your child as they relate to the school you’re considering,” the association states. That is why Cahill and the other consultants at ISO say they like to meet with families and really get to know the child’s personality first — their interests, passions and strengths — to help them find the school or schools that will be the best “fit.” “We want to know who their kid is, how they’re doing in school where they are currently, and what are their child’s interests?” she said. “Then, we learn what their idea of the best school looks like. For example, do they want religious, progressive, traditional, and so forth. We also like to talk with the child and find out what they like and don’t like about their current school, or past schools they’ve attended.” Cahill said ISO also specializes in special needs resources, such as for families with children in crisis, who need therapeutic placement, have autism or other learning disabilities, or who need individualized education plans (IEPs), and even kids in “school refusal mode.” Cahill and her team can often match families with public schools in the area that have the best special education professionals and resources, or can even recommend independent schools that specialize in educating children with exceptional needs. January / February 2019 •


Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a School for Your Child There are many aspects of a school families should consider, when trying to determine which may be the best fits for your individual child. Here are five questions to ask yourself, that may help you create a “short list” of schools to apply to, or consider further.

WHAT TYPE OF STUDENT IS YOUR CHILD? Does your child have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and welcome the pressure and challenge of assignments and tests? If so, your child may thrive in an advanced academic environment. On the contrary, if your child is bright, but not necessarily fascinated by facts and figures, a more hands-on, progressive school may be best.

WHAT ARE YOUR CHILD’S MAIN INTERESTS AND STRENGTHS? Is your child a clear tech whiz or science enthusiast? Or, is your child more into the performing arts, liberal or literary arts, or music? If so, a school with a special focus may be best. Browse through school options to find one that really speaks to your individual child’s passions and personality.

IS A RELIGIOUS SCHOOL IMPORTANT TO YOUR FAMILY? BOARDING OR DAY SCHOOL? SINGLE-SEX OR CO-ED? There are a wealth of options open to D.C.-area families. Once you have established the type of academic environment best suited to your child, there are additional factors to consider, such as whether an all-boys or all-girls school may benefit your child, and whether boarding or lodging may help your family. There are also a number of religious schools in the D.C. area that serve all grades, from preschool up to high school.

HOW FAR ARE YOU WILLING (AND ABLE) TO TRAVEL TO GET YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL EVERY DAY? We wish it wasn’t, but distance is an important factor when choosing a school for your child. If you live in Alexandria and you’re considering a school in Maryland, that could be a prohibitively tough commute for your family; be sure to come up with a potential plan for commuting around job schedules and the needs of any other children before deciding to apply.

HOW MUCH CAN YOU AFFORD TO PAY IN TUITION AND OTHER COSTS? Another make-it-or-break-it factor that all families must consider ahead of time is how much tuition they can reasonably afford. As we mention in our article, tuition can be a base cost of $10,000+ annually for private school in the D.C. metro area. Many schools also require fundraising from every student’s family, as well as lunch costs, commuting costs and supply costs for uniforms, sports equipment, books and more. Be sure you have the full picture of a school’s total costs firmly in hand before applying (and remember there may be an application cost too, which is often not refunded if your child isn’t accepted). Be sure to ask about financial aid.

30 • January / February 2019

Next, Cahill and her team help families figure out the nitty-gritty details — those practical needs mentioned earlier — such as how much the family can afford in tuition and the maximum distance they’re willing and able to travel to get the child to school every day. All of those discussions hopefully result in a list of potential schools that Cahill and her team recommend to the family.

WEIGHING ADMISSIONS AND AFFORDABILITY Much like choosing a college, Cahill said it’s good to have at least a handful of schools the family is willing to consider rather than getting their heart set on one, since private school admission in the D.C. area can be rigorous and competitive. “We want that list to not only include schools that we think will be a good fit for the child, but also include schools we think they have a good chance of getting into, as well as a few ‘safety schools,’ much like with college,” she said. Of course, affordability is often a factor as well. When it comes to schools in the D.C. metro area, there are what Cahill likes to call a few “price tiers” or “subsets” in terms of tuition costs. Cahill said parochial and archdiocese schools are often “in the teens” per year, but other independent religious schools can sometimes range from the high teens up to the low $20,000s annually. Small, exclusive schools like Merritt Academy, Pinecrest, The Sycamore School and others are often around the high teens to low $20,000s per year. In the City of Alexandria and surrounding areas you’ll find tuition between $6,200 and $11,000 at Immanuel Lutheran School; $20,000 at Grace Episcopal for grades K through 5;


Most of the schools offer some sort of financial aid packages and tuition payment plans. Cahill noted that every family’s needs are different, and therefore families tend to come to her for all sorts of assistance. “Some have already done their own research and really just want a sounding board to help them solidify their decision in terms of the impression they got from a certain school,” she said. “Others truly come to us from square one, knowing nothing. It can be overwhelming, truly, looking at all the different options out there.”


$27,500 to $29,800 for Alexandria Country Day School; $28,000 to $32,000 at Burgundy Farm Country Day School; and around $30,000 at Browne Academy. At St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes, tuition rises into the $30,000s, Fusion Academy is in the low $40,000s with less expensive options for part-time or single classes and Episcopal High School’s tuition and fees add up to more than $50,000 per year. There are dozens of others, as well. All offer tuition reimbursement, financial aid and payment plans, and many offer scholarships.

Sometimes, parents even call from locations all over the country or the world, once they find out they’re moving into the D.C. metro area. Cahill said. If having the best school for their child is really their top priority, some parents will want to choose the school first, and then decide where to live based on that. “Overall, for the most part, most parents just truly want to find the best school that fits their child, and their family. And we are delighted to help them do that.” There are many aspects of a school families should consider, when trying to determine which may be the best fit for your individual child. Here are five questions to ask yourself, that may help you create a “short list” of schools to apply to, or consider further.



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Alexandria Private Schools PHOTO BY CHRIS MILITZER

Alexandria Country Day School

Commonwealth Academy

2400 Russell Road

1321 Leslie Avenue

Northern Virginia Academy of Early Learning (Lansdowne)

Grades K through 8th grade

Grades 3 through 12

6414 Landsdowne Center Preschool and Full-day Kindergarten

Aquinas Montessori School

Engleside Christian School

8334 Mount Vernon Highway

8428 Highland Lane

Old Town Montessori School

Ages 6 through 12

Age 3 through 6th grade

112 S. Columbus Street

Bishop Ireton High School

Episcopal High School

201 Cambridge Road

1200 N. Quaker Lane

Potomac Crescent Waldorf School

Grades 9 through 12

Grades 9 through 12

3846 King Street

Preschool and Kindergarten

Through grade 5

Blessed Sacrament School & Early Childhood Center

Fusion Academy 333 John Carlyle Street

Queen of Apostles Catholic School

1417 Braddock Road

One-to-one learning for grades 6 through 12

4401 Sano Street

Pre-K through 8th grade

Blue Bird of Alexandria 346 Commerce Street

Kindergarten through 8th grade

Grace Episcopal School 3601 Russell Road

St. Louis Catholic School

Pre-K through 5th grade

2901 Popkins Lane

Preschool and Kindergarten

Brentwood Academy 3725 Nalls Road

Pre-K through 8th grade

(The) Howard Gardner School 4913 Franconia Road

St. Mary’s Catholic School

Grades 6 through 12

400 Green Street

Through 2nd grade

Browne Academy Alexandria, Virginia

Pre-K through 8th grade

Immanuel Lutheran School 1801 Russell Road

St. Rita School

Pre-K through 8th grade

3801 Russell Road

Pre-K through 8th grade

Burgundy Farm Country Day School 3700 Burgundy Road

Pre-K through 8th grade

Little Acorn Patch 5801 Castlewellan Drive Pre-K and Kindergarten

Pre-K through 8th grade

Cavalry Road Christian School 6811 Beulah Street

Little People’s Place 2720 Arlington Drive Serves students up through grade 5

Pre-K through 6th grade

Chesterbrook Academy

Metropolitan School of the Arts (The Academy)

6200 Interparcel Road

5775 Barclay Drive

Pre-K and Kindergarten students

College preparatory performing arts conservatory for grades 7 through 12

Christian Center School 5411 Franconia Road Pre-K through 8th grade.


St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Lower School) 400 Fontaine Street Pre-K through 5th grade

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Middle School) 4401 West Braddock 6th through 8th grade

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Upper School) 1000 St. Stephen’s Road

Montessori School of Alexandria 6300 Florence Lane (703) 960-3498 Serves students up through age 12 • January / February 2019

9th through 12th grade


Focusing on Continuity and the Economy Wilson plans to build on some of Mayor Silberberg’s initiatives, he said. “She’s done a good job of galvanizing some of the clergy, that would be something I’d look to continue,” he said, referring to the Clergy Council Silberberg created.


Justin Wilson Alexandria’s New Mayor Looks Ahead BY MARY ANN BARTON

Justin Wilson, 39, is digging into a hearty breakfast at La Madeleine in Old Town Alexandria on a rainy Saturday morning, as he talks about his plans as the city’s future mayor. He won a close election last year against fellow Democrat and incumbent Mayor Allison Silberberg. He doesn’t sleep much and relaxes by running. He runs marathons when he can, but with his schedule lately he hasn’t had time; his last one was in 2017. But he has thought a lot about his vision for Alexandria. Here’s what he sees.

“We obviously had disagreements on a variety of policy areas and in temperament and approach, but her commitment to the city is one I never questioned and that’s what I’d look to emulate,” Wilson said. “I can’t be everywhere she is, I do have a day job, but the accessibility is important.” When Wilson takes over, it will be with new faces on the City Council. “It was disappointing to see two of my colleagues (five-term Council Member Paul Smedberg and one-term Council Member Willie F. Bailey, Sr.) lose,” he said. “They were valued members of the council. We’ll have a new look on the council for sure, which will bring new ideas and energy. We’ll do our thing. This is my fourth council to be on and each one kind of inherits a way of approaching issues as a body. This one will as well.” Wilson said his top priority will be the economy. “This region has relied on healthy federal spending growth for generations,” he said. “Regardless of who’s running Washington, that’s changing. It changed under Obama, and it’s changing under Trump.”

January / February 2019 •



“The surest fire way we can protect the quality of life in the city long term is to reconstitute our economy,” he said. “So, I think those economic issues are going to be number one for us.” As mayor, Wilson said he can move the city’s economy ahead by looking at “how we do land use in the city. It’s managing transition. We have a lot of vacant office space in the city. How can we work within our land use code and work with landowners to make a transition to more productive uses? Some of that is going to be adaptive reuse for residential. How can we introduce retail uses? It’s going to be smarter use of incentives. So, some of those core economic growth initiatives will be number one for the council.” Giving a Helping Hand to Alexandria’s Children Wilson grew up in the area with a single mom, Leslie, at the helm. He calls her his hero. A career federal employee, she “was always a good example for me and my sister,” he said. “She certainly has always been a hero of mine and now for my kids.” Wilson and his wife, Alex, are parents to Eli and Lena who attend Alexandria public schools. Another focus while he is mayor, Wilson said, will be on “kids’ issues” and on Alexandria’s performance gaps from preschool to high school. Expanding early childhood education is one of the most important goals for the city, he said. About 20 percent of kids starting kindergarten in Alexandria do not have any early childhood education, he said. Some parents will never send their kids no matter what, but for others it’s an economic issue. And he said he thinks the city can help close that gap. The city is the number one provider of after-school services in the community. “We’re sitting in the catbird seat as far as making sure those kids are successful. It’s a challenge; we’ve done better over the last several years, but we’ve got a long way to go to narrow that achievement gap.”



The city deploys a variety of different ways to provide early childhood education. Some parents receive city vouchers and there is some funding from the state or federal government. “I don’t think it would require much to get us to universal access,” Wilson said. Money, space, more efficient use of resources and working with the private sector and non-profits to incentivize more seats are all key, he noted. “I think we know what needs to happen, it’s just getting there,” he said. “I think that’s the challenge. Some of it is the same as the capacity issues we’re dealing with on the K through 12 side.” ‘My Clarion Call: Infrastructure’ “My kind of clarion call throughout this stint on council and during the election has been around infrastructure investment,” Wilson said.

spend a lot just to keep things going,” he said. “In some cases, doing infrastructure investment actually saves us money.” “I think the taxpayers have been skeptical in the past on how we prioritize capital investment, and I think it’s on us for the next three years to do that right,” he said. Landmark Mall Wilson said that he’s aware of the frustrations associated with the delay in the Landmark Mall project. “We’re as close as we’ve ever been right now,” he said. “Howard Hughes is now consolidating ownership on the property which is great. Part of the challenges for decades was having three owners and no one could do anything without permission of the other two. Now we’re down to two.”

“We’re spending a fortune right now remediating mold” in the Mount Vernon Community School auditorium, he said.

The mall suffered years of decline before closing. Howard Hughes Corp. purchased the main section of the mall years ago with plans to redevelop it, and the corporation later acquired the Macy’s portion of the mall when it closed. Sears is owned separately.

And at George Washington Middle School, “The cafeteria’s been out of commission for a couple of months. We

“Sears, whether through joint venture or actual purchase, will be a partner,” he said.

Is it an expensive proposal? Done properly, infrastructure investment can save money over time, Wilson said. • January / February 2019

we tell a broader story?” Wilson said. “I think part of what folks are reacting to is we’ve only told one part of our history. We have an opportunity to tell a broader scope of our history.” Affordable Commercial Rents Alexandria’s success as a destination for travel, shopping and dining means higher commercial rents in some areas. “That is a tough one for us,” he said, “and it’s some of the same issues we’re dealing with on affordable housing.” In some cases, Alexandria has become a “victim of our own success,” he said. “Overall, you’ll see for retailers on King Street our rents are still relatively low compared to other areas in the region. It doesn’t mean we don’t have retailers PHOTO BY JAMES CULLUM

that struggle.” And as for any vacant storefronts, some

In the past year, the Carpenter’s Shelter moved into a portion of Macy’s while a permanent shelter for the homeless and transitional housing is built in North Old Town. The main section of the mall was used as a set for the next movie in the Wonder Woman series. That movie will come out in late 2019. A community re-planning process is underway now, and Wilson said to expect movement on the project once Carpenter Shelter moves out of the former Macy’s, which is expected in about 18 months. “The timeline will be a front-burner issue the next three years,” he said. Alexandria Tourism With the city landing on many “best of” lists, tourism is a big factor in Alexandria’s economy. “It reduces our property taxes by a significant amount, and it does so at a low risk to our quality of life. In Old Town, you see the focus on visitors and it creates parking challenges but, big picture, some of the things that benefit our tourists benefit our residents.” “I certainly love when folks come to town and love to show our city off,” he said. “It’s a real boon for the city.”

How Alexandria grows visitation is something the City will continue to look at, Wilson said. Tourism has increased significantly in the past five years, according to Visit Alexandria, but there’s always room for growth. “How do we partner with retailers and restaurants and hotels in Old Town to drive visitation? That is going to be a big issue for us.” Wilson referred to “a pretty bruising conversation” about forming a Business Improvement District or BID in the Old Town area. “Some form of public-private collective partnership will probably come forward again,” he said. “Whether it’s a BID or not I don’t know; we’re essentially doing what some call a ‘BID light’ right now, with some of the improvements to King Street and the programming we’re bringing to the waterfront, partnering with the private sector. It’s a concept we will keep coming back to in conversation. Last year was the second time we’ve talked about it; I imagine we’ll be back talking about it again.” Much of Alexandria’s tourism has focused on its role as a historic city. As the new year begins, Jefferson Davis Highway will become Richmond Highway. “My focus has been how do

of it is “generational change, with longtime retailers closing and retiring,” Wilson said. “Some of that has gone on. We’re always going to try to maintain a mix [of Mom ‘n Pop and regional or national chains] there. If the city needs to take a greater role in that or not — we’ll have to see and take that on.” Advice to Young People Considering Politics Wilson said there are two types people: “Those who want to be something and those who want to do something. We get a lot of those who want to be something, unfortunately.” “To do something, you have to do your homework and decide what you want to make change on,” he said. “You get a lot of pressure on a lot of different issues in elected office. If you don’t have core convictions, you’ll get thrown all over the place.” Wilson noted that studying the issues, understanding them and seeing the different approaches “is the best way to go far in this business.” “I’ve won and lost elections,” he said. “It’s certainly better to win, but if you approach it with a conviction, you never have regrets.”

January / February 2019 •


“This is a game changer,” Silberberg said. While Alexandria is “known for its history” and the “founding of our country, it’s also known for being an innovation hub. It’s a huge win for us, for generations to come.” Local politics was a natural path for Silberberg, a Texan whose mother helped elect the first woman mayor of Dallas. As a double major (international relations and history) at American University, she headed up the College Democrats as a member of the class of ‘84, and she interned for Sen. Edward Kennedy. After graduate school at UCLA, she moved back to the DC area. “I just knew it was the right choice for me,” she said. “I wanted to combine my writing and public policy interests and that’s why I had come back to the DC area.” Silberberg decided to live in Alexandria. “One of the main reasons was the strong appreciation for historic preservation that’s really so present here and that I feel so strongly about as well,” she said. “It’s so beautiful, it has a great sense of community, great neighborhoods. It’s safe, it’s fun. I just love it.” PHOTO BY CHRIS MILITZER

What’s Next for Mayor Allison Silberberg? BY MARY ANN BARTON

As her mayoral term comes to an end after three years, Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg is leaving the city — what she likes to call “our national treasure” — a better place, she said in an interview one evening last fall at her office in City Hall. It’s just before Amazon’s announcement to locate part of its second headquarters in Arlington’s Crystal City. One of the clinchers? Virginia Tech building a $1 billion campus in Alexandria, plus millions of dollars in state funding for more transportation infrastructure.

36 • January / February 2019

After her move to Alexandria, she went to work for fellow Texan, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas). She also served on Alexandria’s Economic Opportunity Commission, advocating for the most vulnerable. “Every year we pushed for increasing the minimum wage and we focused on affordable housing,” she said. Her community involvement and measured take on waterfront development politics led her down a path to local politics, running for city council in 2012 (and becoming vice mayor, as the member with the most votes) and then mayor in 2015. In June 2015, Silberberg surprised political pundits when she ousted four-term incumbent Mayor Bill Euille. She beat him again in the November general election after he campaigned as a writein candidate.


Last year, Silberberg lost the primary to Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, garnering 46.6 percent of the vote. Wilson went on, unopposed, to win the general election. Now, Silberberg is looking back on a term she recalls as a time of “getting things done.” In addition to helping bring Amazon to the area, she is also proud of helping open three new schools in Alexandria. “There were years — many years — when there was no school approved,” she said. “It’s remarkable.” In addition to education, Silberberg also noted her work to help the environment. “We’ve pushed full steam ahead on the fix of the sewage outfalls,” she noted. “Finally, after two decades of no movement.” The cost, she noted, will be four times that of the $100 million spent on the new T.C. Williams building several years ago.


The city’s tree canopy is another feather in Silberberg’s cap. “We’ve more than tripled the number of trees planted a year, to about 900,” she said. “I call it Greening Up Alexandria. We’ve focused on native plants, of course.” There’s also been a focus on the renewal of the city’s parks, with help from local non-profits. During Silberberg’s term as mayor, the city has also tripled the amount of money dedicated to the Affordable Housing Fund and more than doubled the number of lane miles that have been repaved each year. Two of the city’s four libraries have also gotten “a real facelift” during her term. Silberberg is also proud that the city, under her leadership, acquired the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House. “The director of Historic Alexandria said it’s the most significant contribution in 50 years,” she said of the 18th-century home at 517 Prince St.

our values in writing so that if some-

her office. “The Lincoln Memorial is

thing, God forbid, ever happened, we

hallowed ground,” she said. “The photo

could point to it,” she said. The state-

speaks to her own dedication to public

ment is on a poster in four languages,

service and grace and her own ability to

“We’re getting things done,” she said.

posted across the city.

protect Dr. King’s legacy.”

She also looks back on the city’s statement on inclusiveness, which was one of her first actions’ as mayor, which she initiated and drafted. “I wanted to put

The statement on inclusiveness is in

What will Silberberg’s legacy be? “My

keeping with Silberberg’s values. A

whole life has been about public ser-

photo she took of Coretta Scott King in

vice,” she said. “We’ll see what the

2003 at the Lincoln Memorial hangs in

future holds.”


January / February 2019 •



New Life for Alexandria Visitor’s Center Garden Sustainable design includes a new water fountain and the only cell phone charging station in Alexandria’s city parks. A new garden will welcome Alexandria’s visitors this spring complete with a cell phone charging station. The Garden Club of Alexandria announced that the renovation of Alexandria’s “front door” to the city, at the historic Ramsay House garden, will open in the spring in time to greet residents and tourists to the Historic Garden Week’s house and garden tour, one of the most highly attended events in Northern Virginia. Ramsay House is home to the Alexandria Visitor’s Center on King Street in Old Town.

The renovation features a new garden design by Joan Honeyman of Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture. It includes an accessible garden entry and terrace, native and sustainable plantings, as well as seating. With a nod to modern technology, the sustainable design includes a new water fountain and the only cell phone charging station in Alexandria’s city parks. With an ongoing fund-raising program, the club has engaged J and J Landscaping for the garden installation. Donnie Simpson of Simpson Development is continuing the family’s long history of civic commitment by donating project management for the garden renovation.


Landscape and Portrait Photography

38 • January / February 2019



Richmond Highway Embarks on a New Era PHOTOS BY CHRIS MILITZER


This piece was created in partnership with Covering the Corridor, a local news website covering Southeast Fairfax County. Learn more at

Fairfax County’s first bus rapid transit system. Metro to Hybla Valley. Mixed-use developments — some with buildings as tall as 22 stories. This is Fairfax County’s vision for the future of the Route 1 corridor. The changes outlined in Embark Richmond Highway, an update to the county’s comprehensive plan passed in March 2018, envisions a complete overhaul of Route 1 from Huntington to Woodlawn. It is nothing short of radical for an area known for its large shopping centers, bad traffic and gritty edges. Six community business centers (CBCs) will constructed over time, each with its own bus rapid transit (BRT) station. The CBCs will be designed to have unique characteristics — the Beacon/

Groveton CBC, for instance, is envisioned as a town center with high-intensity development and the tallest buildings, while the Hybla Valley/Gum Springs CBC will tie-in with that area’s nearby environmental resources. Areas that are currently the site of large retail centers will eventually be replaced by new grids of streets in the CBCs, with some featuring linear parks. The “transit-oriented design” will place emphasis on multimodal forms of transportation, with BRT running through the CBCs from the Huntington Metro station to Fort Belvoir. Dedicated bike lanes and large, connected sidewalks will be up and down the corridor along Route 1, making a place known for being less-than-friendly to pedestrians and bikers into something urbanists can get excited about. “Overall, it’s a very positive vision for the future for really the oldest corridor in the county, “ said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a DC-based advocacy group. “It would create walkable, transit oriented-communities with a network of streets, strong bicycling infrastructure… [and] green ecological corridors running through it.” January / February 2019 •



A LONG TIME COMING Even more excited about Embark are the local officials and community groups who have worked for years to improve the corridor. At a business breakfast this past Halloween hosted by the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, an economic development group founded by the county in 1981 to focus on revitalizing the corridor, politicians and other major stakeholders touted the highway’s sudden ascendance because of Embark. “I’ve never been more inspired than I am now,” said Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, who has served in office since 2007 and grew up in the Woodlawn area. “It’s clear that we have great opportunities here moving forward.” McKay said more than $1 billion in transportation and infrastructure improvements are coming, including a $215 million road-widening project, a $700+ million bus rapid transit project and millions of dollars in smaller improvements. Route 1 residents and officials have waited years for that kind of attention from the county and state, and now that the public investment is coming, major change appears poised to finally happen. “This is a different day in the life of Richmond Highway and the Route 1 corridor — one that I think we can all be very proud of because it’s taken a long time to get here,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck told the audience at the business breakfast. Work on the Embark amendment began in 2015, but its roots are in countless studies about how to improve transportation in the region. The most influential of those studies was the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis conducted in 2013 and 2014 by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. State Sen. Scott Surovell, then a Virginia delegate, worked with former State Sen. Toddy Puller to secure funding for the $2 million multimodal analysis, which ultimately recommended many of the transportation improvements included in Embark. Surovell, whose sprawling 36th district covers much of the Route 1 corridors in Fairfax County and in Prince William County, said improving Richmond Highway was a big reason he ran for office. “I felt like the Route 1 corridor had been left behind relative to the rest of Fairfax County,” said Surovell, who grew up in the Fort Hunt area and still lives there today. Once the Board of Supervisors authorized the county to begin working on Embark, the two-and a-half-year task of writing and refining the plan commenced with close collaboration between county agencies and the local community. A 13-member advisory group made up of residents, SFDC members and other stakeholders met monthly with county officials. Officials hosted six community meetings and open houses in addition to several smaller meetings with local community groups. “This was the most comprehensive, sophisticated review of a corridor outside of Tysons Corner that we’ve ever done in Fairfax County,” McKay said.

40 • January / February 2019

PUMPING THE BRAKES For all of the enthusiasm surrounding Embark, the biggest changes will not come quickly. This point was driven home during a panel discussion at a Halloween business breakfast. Three of the panelists, representatives for owners of The Beacon Center, Mount Vernon Plaza and Woodlawn shopping centers, made clear that while they’re optimistic about the highway’s future, the economic reality on the ground means there’s no rush to develop. A variety of reasons, from leases to waiting to see how the road widening plays out, were given for the patient approach. But each panelist indicated that as more residential developments with increased density are built, the centers can begin moving on the redevelopment. “I think what we see today is the economics coming forward,” said Carlos Heard, head of acquisitions of B.F. Saul Company, the owner of the Beacon Center. “[But] we don’t think it’s quite there yet for what we have in mind.” In the meantime, Heard said he expects investors and smaller landowners to begin taking advantage of Opportunity Zones, which are a new revitalization tool that allows investors to receive tax benefits on currently unrealized capital gains by investing those gains in areas that qualify. Another panelist, Mychael Cohn of Cohn Property Group, said other incentive packages from local government could expedite the process. All of the panelists were in agreement that completion of the BRT project would be a major factoring in triggering more development.

• Riverside Apartments: The oldest high-rise development on the highway has been approved to construct five new smaller high rises, filling in a sea of parking and adding 767 units to the 1,222 units already in the three high-rise buildings. The development will also include a new park with access to Cameron Run. • North Hill: Located at the corner of Richmond Highway and Dart Drive, this development will consist of 219 affordable and workforce apartments, 60 affordable independent living units for seniors and 175 market rate townhomes. “I think the catalyst here, BRT, will really help launch redevelopment along Route 1,” said Kari Gilinski of Federal Realty, owner of Mount Vernon Plaza shopping center in Hybla Valley. “But certainly, it’s going to take some time for Route 1 to mature in order for Mount Vernon Plaza to become a [new Montgomery County development] Pike and Rose.”

THE NEAR FUTURE Even if the big centers take decades to transform, Richmond Highway started changing even before the passage of Embark. Newer developments like the Beacon of Groveton, a mixed-use development on Route 1, as well as the Shelby Apartments on North Kings Highway and The Parker apartments on Huntington Avenue have opened in recent years. A number of other projects are in the pipeline, with many expected to begin construction in the next few years. • South Alex: A mixed-use development in Penn Daw that will feature 400 apartments, 41 townhouses and ground-level retail anchored by an Aldi grocery store. The townhomes area already being built and the rest of the project was expected to start construction in late 2018. • Huntington Club: A mixed-use development that will replace an existing garden apartment and townhouse community on Huntington Avenue. It will consist of approximately 2,100 multifamily and 70 single-family attached dwelling units, 496,000 square feet of office use, 18,500 square feet of retail use and 123,000 square feet of hotel use. • Kings Crossing: A 350-unit multifamily development approved for the intersection of Richmond Highway and Fairview Drive.

• The Grande at Huntington: This mixed-use project at the intersection of North Kings Highway and Richmond Highway may have 275 residential units and 25,000 square feet of ground-level retail space. However, since it was approved by the Board of Supervisors in June 2013, the project has been on hold. Holly Dougherty has worked closely with the local business community and government since 2001 as a board member and executive director of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce. Dougherty, who advocates for many of the small businesses who may be displaced by the road widening and BRT projects, says the near future will be a stressful time for local businesses. However, she remains bullish on the future of the highway as public investments are finally being made. “For a long time, we never saw any movement. Boy, that all changed,” Dougherty joked. “So we’re excited about that. It’s going to be kind of painful the next 10 years or so, but I think the results will be very good.” McKay and Storck have created a new economic team (Dougherty is a member) that will focus on attracting business to invest sooner rather than later along Richmond Highway. McKay, since the passage of Embark, has said the most important thing the county must do is keep momentum going forward. He says his office has already received a “remarkable” number of inquiries from developers and businesses, and his main worry is not capitalizing while interest in the highway is at an all-time high. “I’ve always felt like we could get to this point,” McKay said. “It takes time, persistence. What would be really awful would be if we miss this opportunity.” January / February 2019 •




All grown up but missing something? Maybe it’s your friends How and Where Alexandria Men Can Rekindle Friendships BY SUSANNAH HERRADA

If you ask David Dickerson of West Potomac Rugby what brought him back to the pitch after an almost eight-year hiatus, he’ll tell you it wasn’t just the game. “This is my community. That’s the thing that brought me back,” explains Dickerson, 47, who serves as club president.

42 • January / February 2019

Like many men, Dickerson took a step back from the team when he found himself juggling career and personal commitments. Those eight years off meant missing out on connecting with what he calls the “most social men’s side [rugby team] in the DC region” — including postgame parties and Sunday brunches, along with planned events such as pig roasts, river tubing, international travel and philanthropic work. Dickerson’s experience is not unusual. Experts suggest that men — more than women — struggle to maintain friendships during the career-kid-partner phase of life, likely because men often connect through the activities that can get usurped by work and family commitments. “Once we become the boss, the spouse, the parent — life changes that often happen right around our late 20s and early 30s — it’s harder


for us to do the role of friend justice. Husbands and wives may allow their partners to fill the role of best friend, letting other relationships fall by the wayside,” according to writer Kate Shellnut. In addition, it’s common for people in their 20s and 30s to move often, putting physical distance between friends.


Join a club.

If hockey’s your thing, Edler says the

Though membership comes at a cost, nothing says man-friend than the smell of dark leather and the hint of premium cigars. You’ll find this at member’s only cigar club CXIII Rex (113 King St, If your still under 40, now’s the time to nab your Young Executive discounted membership for Belle Haven Country Club (6023 Fort Hunt Rd,

Alexandria Roller Hockey team is always looking for new players at all levels. Alexandria’s adult rec leagues also offer a casual way to bond over your passion. Contact the Alexandria Adult Sports Office to be placed on a team. (Search “adult sports” at

When it comes to making friends, Jared Edler, co-founder of Alexandria Roller Hockey (, suggests starting with something you love to do. “Don’t force yourself onto an awkward bar stool,” he explains. “Start under the auspice of a shared interest and work your way back to forge a relationship.”

Alexandria Community Rowing welcomes

Consider these three parameters to help build social capital. Then read on for some vetted recommendations from local guys for places to go and things to do.

on leagues. If you can talk smack, or ever

Show up to that birthday party, block party, or guys’ poker night. Not a card shark? There’s no better way to spark a friendship than to ask for (or offer) help.

both experienced and novice rowers—

Get out and play.

with the perk of monthly social activities. Give it a try on National Learn to Row Day (Alexandria Boathouse, 1 N. Madison St, 9AM-noon, first Saturday of June, TopGolf Alexandria (6625 S Van Dorn St., click on “play” tab at places both experienced and rookie golfer “Free Agents” wanted to learn, West Potomac Rugby trains “new ruggers from scratch,” according to their website ( They’ll take you even if you’re what they fondly call an “Old Boy” (35 and up).

Volunteer. Working towards a common goal cements relationships. Even if it doesn’t spark your next bromance, you’ll feel good about doing good. Alexandria offers lots of op-

Next, get interesting. While work can feel all-encompassing, it’s not the fodder for building friendships. Read a book, subscribe to a podcast, or find a new favorite band so you have something on your mind beyond work that you can share with others.

portunities for group-based volunteer op-

Finally, leverage your assets. Give a colleague or old friend a call for lunch — there may be untapped friend-potential. Kids and dogs are get-out-ofjail-free cards when you find yourself in a friend desert. Hang out at the dog park or volunteer at your kids’ sports booster, auction or PTA— for something other than data entry.

(1145 17th Street, NW, DC, Search

portunities through Volunteer Alexandria (

Re: Extra ticket. Nothing says DC guys night like watching ski porn at National Geographic’s Banff Mountain Film Festival “Banff Mountain Film Festival” at And what about live music at the Birchmere (3701 Mt Vernon Ave, Sign up for online mailing lists for hardto-get tickets—or to make time on your hard-to-find-time calendar. Then send out an email or posting: “Who’s up for catching this event?” You may be surprised at the interesting friends you have.

While traditional gyms aren’t always a slam dunk for making friends, American Ninja finalist (#NinjaLawyer) and SportRock (5308 Eisenhower Ave, member Mike Chick recommends climbing gyms. “The climbing community and culture is just very friendly and positive,” says Chick. For cyclists, both seasoned riders and newbies connect at events hosted by Spokes, Etc. Bicycles, including free Monthly Maintenance Classes and weekly rides (1545 N Quaker Lane, click on “events” tab at Clubs such as Potomac Peddlers hosts over 1,000 weekend rides each year throughout the National Capital metro area (sign up through the “membership” tab at

Take the stage. Before all this happened, did you find your place on the stage—or wish you’d tried? “The improv community really is a fantastic way to connect to others as adults,” explains Auxiliary Improv member Kayla Hornbrook (search Auxiliary Improv on Facebook). Catch the raucous comedy improv troupe live at The Lyceum (201 S. Washington St.,—then hone your skills at their next all-levels improv jam session. “Once you go through some classes with the same group of people—see each other make bad jokes and then some really good ones—it’s natural to form friendships out of it,” says Hornbrook. The Little Theater of Alexandria (600 Wolfe St., offers three sessions of adult acting and improv classes each year, including an audition workshop, dancing, film, and script writing. Prospective vocalists must audition for both the pops chorus Alexandria Singers

January / February 2019 •



( and the more traditional choral group Alexandria Choral Society (100 W Luray Ave,

wine dinners and cooking classes at Julie Harris Cooking School’s ( offer a great meal, new skills, and fun connections.

Pull up a chair.

Get savvy on social media.

Whether you go for Raw Bar Wednesday or to watch the game, Southside 815 (815 S. Washington St., lets you bond over what you love—with both good food and a welcoming vibe. Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Ave., makes everything more fun with beer—from music to jogging to good ol’ tastings. Try your luck across the river with the friendly crowd at MGM National Harbor’s table games like blackjack, poker or hold ‘em (MGM National Harbor, 101 National Ave., Oxen Hill, search “table games” at

“No matter what your interest, a source like is an incredible resource for meeting like-minded people who share it,” suggests Edler who— when he’s not playing roller hockey—says he’s scrolled past some rather niche Meetup groups in Alexandria for everything from horror movies to LARPing (live action role play). Looking for something a bit more mainstream? Try the inclusive and eclectic Alexandria Happy Hour Meetup Group which boasts almost 5,000 members, along with groups such as Northern Virginia Casual Biking Group (NOVA-CBG), Alexandria Cars and Coffee, Alexandria Basketball Leagues, Washington, DC History and Culture, or The Northern Virginia Hiking League (NVHC). In addition to Meetup and checking Facebook Events, you could discover shared interests with existing connections by signing up for Festi (, an app created by Metro DC attorney, Rita Ting-Hopper

Learn something new. The Torpedo Factory (105 N Union St, offers a range of classes covering topics such as stained glass, photography, and metalwork. If Iron Chef’s your thing,

44 • January / February 2019

who wanted a no-hassle way to get more social as she balanced family and career.

Small groups. Whether it’s a business networking group, a social club, or a growth group hosted by a religious community, connections often happen in a smaller setting. Check out the business referral association BNI ( or Toastmasters (

Now that you’re solidly into adulthood — or so you’ve been told — you might not be into hanging out with the kid down the street. It’s not about being too picky, but more so that you place a higher value on authentic connections. According to Harvard’s 75-year longitudinal Study of Adult Development, that priority pays big dividends. Maintaining meaningful social connections to family, friends, and the community keeps us happier, physically healthier and even living longer. Now that’s reason enough to make time, make plans, and stay in touch.


Virginia Winter Wine Country Escape


The holidays have come and gone, so what can you do for a quick getaway to recharge? With just an hour’s drive west of Alexandria, you can be in Virginia’s wine country, surrounded by mountain views, horse farms, relaxation, and... well, wine. Historic Loudoun County is the home to all of this with its idyllic towns such as Waterford, Purcellville and Hillsboro, and its more than 40 wineries and 30 craft breweries offer many opportunities for a relaxing, indulgent time of tastings and food pairings.

January / February 2019 •




There are any number of B&Bs, inns and resorts such as Lansdowne Resort and Spa and Salamander Resort & Spa in Loudoun County. Looking for peace and quiet, I chose to stay at Wheatland Spring ( in Waterford. Wheatland Spring’s Cottage B&B is a wonderfully restored 1832 property, located on a rolling 30-acre parcel of land complete with outdoor pool (for the warmer months) and outdoor fireplace to relax by after a full day of activities. The cottage also contains a deep-sleep inducing bed, 1.5 baths, and a washer and dryer. The full kitchen includes oven, stove, microwave, full-size refrigerator, dishwasher and cookware. In the morning, breakfast was delivered containing fresh baked muffins, jams, cheeses and sausage with each item being listed by the local farm it had come from. When I realized the cottage was stocked with farm-fresh milk and eggs as well, I almost expected to see the names of the chicken and cow that made my breakfast complete! No detail had been overlooked in this well-loved and maintained home away from home. From the L.L. Bean textiles throughout, to the giant TV ready for your evening Netflix binges, the owner’s love for this place shines through.

With more than 40 wineries in the county, Loudoun County has created a wine trail guide to help you navigate all of the picturesque locations, by organizing them into geographic clusters. You might be tempted to try each of these locations in the name of “research,” however, the purpose of this trip is to slow down, relax and enjoy each one for all of their individual strengths.

46 • January / February 2019

8 Chains North Winery, Waterford ( Owner Ben Renshaw has to be one of my favorite people I’ve ever had the chance to interview. His approachable, laid back, everyman attitude immediately puts you at ease, before he drops a lifetime of scientific knowledge about wine making in Virginia, mixed in with a little bit of the art that it has become. Ben takes the time to talk to everyone, both the regulars and the newcomers and even leads a tour of the vines on the property. No small task especially in the middle of the harvest. As a dog lover, Ben realized that many guests would enjoy sampling his wines along with their faithful companion and so 8 Chains North has a dedicated dog


park area where your pup can enjoy their own socializing while you imbibe. The tasting room is located in a rustic barn, complete with a fireplace for those cold winter visits. It’s a casual, relaxed place to enjoy a tasting and maybe a chocolate pairing while listening to live music as you lose the stress of the city.

North Gate Vineyard, Purcellville ( Recently purchased by the Walsh Family wine team, this vineyard is one of the premier wine-growing operations in Northern Virginia. Managing both onsite vineyards, as well as others across the county, their focus is on providing top-notch grapes for wine-making. I visited during the harvest, and was lucky enough to witness the hard work and care that goes into their products. The LEED-certified tasting room has a large fireplace to warm you up while you sample the products, and maybe even enjoy a crepe or two if you’re lucky enough to visit while La Petite LouLou is there with their cart.

CRAFT BEER Not to be outdone by its reputation as being Virginia and DC’s wine region, Loudoun County has also developed quite the robust and diverse craft beer portfolio as well. In fact, with more that 30 breweries in the county, they have developed LoCo Ale Trail to help discover these hoppy havens, located in industrial parks, farms and mountainsides all over the area. Whatever style you’re looking for — IPAs, Stouts, or even a Gose — Loudoun has you covered. January / February 2019 •



Androit Theory, Purcellville ( An extremely small brewery that says they sometimes only make one or two kegs at a time, Android Theory is located in a more industrial park area. The brewery has a cool, modern, mechanical feel to it. Many of their brews are barrel-aged, using vessels such as Maple Rye Whiskey Barrels from Catoctin Creek Distillery, another Loudoun resident, which gives a unique flavor to them. Despite being small, they typically have at least 20 beers on tap at any given time including a Red Wine/Rye Whiskey Porter.

DINING West End Wine Bar and Pub, Purcellville ( The 100-year old building with exposed brick and stone walls and working fireplaces adds to the warmth and charm of this Purcellville restaurant. Farm-to-table entrees really take advantage of the local produce and beef, while the seasonal menu also has an international spin. In fact, one of my favorites was the smoked pork belly steamed buns, not what I expected to find in Purcellville. The Fall Fettuccine with butternut squash, mushrooms, caramelized onion, blue cheese, marsala cream sauce and the Spring House Farm Beef Burger with duck fries were also amazing.

Monks BBQ, Purcellville ( The one consistent question I got at pretty much every spot was “Have you been to Monks yet?” You can tell that folks in just about every area of Loudoun love their BBQ, and love their Monks. Walking up, you get that sweet smoky smell that lets you know you’re in for a treat. All of the standards are here like juicy ribs and brisket, but definitely try the bacon on a stick and my favorite, smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce!

Old 690 Brewing Company, Purcellville ( Old 690 Brewing Company was one of the first farm/craft breweries to open in Virginia. They have a creative and ever-changing menu of beers, that include a Peach Pie Blonde that as a bitter, hoppy, IPA-loving guy, I was surprised to like so much. Old 690 even uses crops grown on their 10-acre property for a truly farm-fresh beer experience. Also of note, the brew system uses some of the oldest tanks on the East Coast. I loved seeing these old 50s/60s Uk-built tanks, they definitely fit in with the laid back old-school atmosphere. Don’t be discouraged while trying to find this place down an easy-to-miss gravel road, as they say... hard to find, harder to leave! Pro tip: Check out the new Harpers Ferry Brewing by the owners of Old 690. With a new brewing system, amazing views and lodge feel, this looks to be a winner!

48 • January / February 2019

Loudoun County is one of those places where everyone seems to know each other, and they are friendly enough to welcome you in and introduce you to folks if you’re new. It’s an excellent spot to visit for a day trip or a weekend if you have the time, and there is no shortage of delicious food, beer or wine, depending on your preference. Sadly, I haven’t even touched on the numerous other outdoor activities that are available when the weather is a little warmer. Luckily, we are close enough that I will be back!


2019 Year of the Organized Home

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to save time, save money or reduce stress in your life, having a well-organized home can help you accomplish your goal. From making your morning routine go smoother to spending less time looking for your missing car keys (again), there are plenty of great reasons to spend these cold winter days getting your house in order. Here’s what you need to know to make 2019 the year to have an organized home. January / February 2019 •



A ‘Home’ for Everything The winter months are a good time to stay home and declutter. BY BETH LAWTON

With Boxing Day in late December and New Year’s resolution season shortly after, mid-winter is the second-most popular time of year to commit to an organized home. (The most popular is spring.)

organizational systems in your home for the new year: Rebecca Ruest of My Personal Assistant; Andrea Hancock of Dexterous Organizing; and Karen Gardiner of Simplify for Life.

DEFINING THE SPACE AND CREATING A ‘HOME’ FOR THINGS The are two initial steps to cleaning and organizing any room. First is defining

We consulted three local professionals

the space, Hancock said. “Is that base-

to help as you declutter, figure out what

ment just for storage? Entertainment? A

to do with unused items and create new

home gym? Once you know what you’ll

50 • January / February 2019

be using the space for, you can then start to create zones and then determine how the room will flow, how much storage you’ll need, and how much of what you’ll need to keep.” The second is defining your goals. “Finding your motivation for cleaning—finding bigger goals than the task at hand—can help,” Gardiner said. “Whether it’s having friends over or having more space for the kids to play, finding concrete goals beyond just getting it clean can help cut down on being overwhelmed.”

Common Culprits These three items can create a lot of clutter on countertops and in closets. Here’s how to handle these challenging items.

Then, creating a “home” for everything is critical to preventing clutter from reappearing. When homeowners don’t have a place to put everything, boxes of randomness and unused items often wind up in closets, basements, attics, spare bedrooms and home offices. “The most useful tip I have is to truly have a home for everything and to make sure that everyone understands where things are kept,” Gardiner said. “This rule forces some clients to realize they have too much stuff when homes are established and ‘stuff’ doesn’t fit.” By keeping like things together, creating easy access to frequently used items and color-coding or labeling bins and drawers, cleaning up on a routine basis becomes much easier. “Going vertical with shelving for stored items keep them from spreading into useful zones and labeling things in bins helps you to store them in a way for better retrieval, which should be the point of putting anything ‘away.’” Your future self should be able to find things and easily access them when they’re needed, Hancock said. “We all let things get out of hand occasionally or more-than occasionally, but if you know what to do with the mess that has accumulated, you can do a 10-minute tidy and call it a night,” Ruest said. “You’ll wake up the next day feeling much better than you would have.” Ruest says when tackling a storage area, do the most manageable portion of the job first. “Do the part that’s easiest to make decisions about or the part that will clear out and make a visual difference. That way you see immediate results, and it encourages you to go on and do more.”



Receipts, junk mail, bills, insurance statements, school forms — the amount of paper that comes into a home is pretty amazing.

Dozens of local shelters, charities and nonprofit organizations are constantly looking for gently used clothing. Check with your local religious leadership, school or charity for information on how and what to donate. The region also has multiple consignment shops.

“It’s best to have a place for paper that comes in the house, whether it’s mail, schoolwork or whatever else gets brought in,” Ruest says. She recommends having a separate file, folder or slot for each person in the home and to keep that place relatively small. “That way it will look full faster and ideally, you’ll deal with it sooner.” Sometimes, deciding whether paper should be kept or destroyed paralyzes people. Gardiner recommends starting with a relatively conservative list of what to keep from the IRS, or Bankrate. “I find a lot of people keep unnecessary paper because they aren’t sure if they may need it. Once this hurdle is crossed I then discuss ways to keep paper out of their house so there is less to process.” To stop junk mail from arriving in the first place, put yourself on the list at and through the Direct Marketing Association opt-out form online to stop catalogs and pre-screened bank offers. For many people, dealing with the paper that remains often involves scanning it, organizing it into digital folders, and getting rid of the physical paper. When paper has accumulated and needs to be shredded, where do you go? Several UPS Store locations have locked bins from Iron Mountain, a shredding company. Iron Mountain routinely picks up these bins for off-site shredding. CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union in Alexandria also offers free annual “Shred Day” events, as do many home owners and community associations for those with boxes of papers to shred. But to prevent paper from accumulating, the best thing to do is buy a small paper shredder for your home and use it on a routine basis.

For business attire, such as men’s and women’s suits, Suited for Change in Washington, DC accepts clothes for people trying to enter the workforce. Ball gowns and tuxedos can be donated to Princess for a Night, which provides prom dresses and tuxes to high school students in Alexandria and Fairfax County. Contact the school systems for more information.

MEDICINE CABINET AND LINEN CLOSET Local police departments and sheriff’s offices in Alexandria and Fairfax County host frequent prescription “drug take back” days, where residents can drop off unused or expired prescription and non-prescription medications. The Neighborhood Pharmacy in Del Ray has a permanent prescription drug drop-off box if you don’t want to wait for an event. Be careful of how you store medications — the heat and steam from your shower can affect them, so keeping them in the linen closet or another area with good ventilation is a better idea. In the linen closet, using boxes and bins to separate items can help—for example, one for “injuries” (bandaids, first aid kits, antibiotic ointments) and a separate one for “illnesses” (cold medicine, headache medicine and the like) can help you find things quickly and easily.



January / February 2019 •




Should You Hire a Professional Organizer?

Koopersmith. “I had been wanting to start my own business,” said Hancock, who is also an accountant. She Googled “professional organizer,” came across NAPO and “the rest is history.”



Wondering if your mess is a candidate

There is hope out there for anyone who is unable to use their overstuffed closets, park their cars in cluttered garages or just find important items in “junk drawers,” according to professional organizer Andrea Hancock, owner of Dexterous Organizing in Alexandria. 52

The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals or NAPO has dubbed

for a pro? Hancock said clients start with a phone call. “I do a ‘discovery call,’ that

January “Get Organized” month, and

allows a person to vent,” she said. “That

it’s as good a time as any to start in

gives me information. I find out what

on everything from finally cleaning

the challenge is, which rooms they’re

out the hall closet to organizing im-

hoping to get organized, what they use

portant papers, Hancock said.

the space for and how they envision the

She was inspired to conquer clut-

space and how they’re getting stuck.”

ter after watching a TV show called

After the call, which is free and

“Clean House” with organizer Linda

lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to • January / February 2019

How to Get Started

3 Tips 1 Rule of 12

30 minutes, Hancock will schedule an in-person consultation, if the client decides to proceed. “They may feel overwhelmed and say they think they’re a hoarder, and it’s not that

If you want to get started yourself, try to “rule of 12.” In one day, find 12 things to return to their home, 12 things to donate, and 12 things to throw away. Sometimes, it’s much easier (and sometimes more pleasant) to do this with the help of a professional organizer or a friend who can be objective about your belongings.

Clutter, Hancock said, is “a delayed decision. That’s the definition of clutter. Nothing more than a delayed decision.”

bad, while others might say ‘I have one


cluttered room’ and actually it’s the

Storage units can be useful, but Hancock said most of the time, you’re just moving the problem. If you ever need something out of the unit, “the effort to rustle around and try to find it is so daunting. Most people prefer to go out and buy whatever it is than look for it.”

whole house.” Hourly rates for a professional organizer range from about $65 to $95 per hour. Hancock estimates the average time for most of her clients’ projects are about 12 hours of her time, usually broken down into four-hour visits where she helps clients go through items. Other costs involved include companies that haul away junk and possibly a new closet or organizing system. There’s no need to be embarrassed about your clutter, Hancock said. “We’re non-judgmental,” she said. “We have suggestions” about what to do with items, depending on what they are. The hardest items to throw away? “Memorabilia is very tough,” she said. “Especially for people with small children. The slew of drawings and artwork can be overwhelming. They ask me ‘Am I a bad parent if I throw this away?’ There’s nothing wrong with keeping them, but when you’re not honoring them by sticking them in a bag in a closet...”

There are times when storage units are beneficial though especially for storing seasonal items like skis, canoes or camping equipment that takes up too much room especially when someone doesn’t have a basement or an attic, she said. If you want to go that route, some storage companies will deliver a numbered bin to your home and return it to the storage unit. Those companies include Make Space and City Stash. Hancock acknowledged that part of the job of being a professional organizer is just listening to people. “We listen to the stories and people want to talk about the items, it’s a process of letting it go. It might be something painful like a divorce or death. It’s freeing to be able to let go of it. We coach by asking questions that help the clients decide what goes and what stays.”

2 Get Help

If you feel like you need a pro, check out the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals to find someone near you.

3 Set a Budget

Make sure you budget enough for your professional organizer (about $65 to $95 per hour), a possible junk mover and any new shelving or organizing furnishings you might add.

January / February 2019 •




How to Know When It’s Time to Downsize...(and how to do it) BY ANGELA SWARTZ

It took several months for Northern Virginian Alan Sack to convince his mother it was time for her and his father to move into a smaller home.

When a parent dies or needs to move out of their home because of safety issues or too much maintenance, it’s normal to feel stressed and exhausted. But how do you know it’s time to downsize and how do you do it?

And that doesn’t even begin to cover the work it took to move boxes and boxes of items — many sentimental — out of their 2,500-square-foot, 3-bedroom home.

“Seniors don’t want to give up their home,” said Sack, who now helps with relocation services including downsizing, decluttering and estate sales for Caring Transitions of Alexandria. “It’s everything they know and they’re comfortable there.”

This is just one example of the difficulties can that come with moving aging parents into a new home.


In fact, being comfortable in their home and community is one of the main • January / February 2019

reasons people delay downsizing, said Peter Crouch, Realtor with McEnearney Associates in Alexandria. Moving does not mean losing connections, Crouch said. There are plenty of places to downsize to right here in Alexandria and most residents can easily stay close to their old neighborhood and keep their doctor and dentist.

SIGNS IT’S TIME TO DOWNSIZE Cathi Coridan, a senior real estate specialist for Keller Williams in Alexandria, got into helping people downsize after her father died in 2014.

People often wait too long to downsize, she said. “They don’t see the need — denial is a huge factor in that,” she said. “Emotional attachment — it’s not just a piece of property. I’ve seen situation where they have to sell as is because of physical limitations,” when they could have gotten more money from it had then been able to fix it up a bit. There are a variety of signs it’s time to downsize. When a person starts to close off “wings” or rooms of their house is one indicator, Coridan said. People may want to change their lifestyle. They may want to live closer to their kids or health resources. Health issues could also be a sign it’s time to move out. “What is it you’re not able to do because you have to take care of this big house?” Coridan said. Safety around the house can be another issue for aging parents. One of the top reasons seniors have to move is difficulty walking up and down stairs, said Sack. Some people put in chairlifts to delay having to move, he said. “Almost everyone we’ve moved to a senior community is happy they did it,” said Sack. “They may not be happy at the time, but they will find it’s nice not having to clean as big of an area or cook all of their own meals.”

HOW TO GET STARTED It’s always difficult to get started on a downsizing project, but begin with something small, said Sack. “Everyone has that kitchen drawer with all these things in it — start with that,” Sack said. “Or one closet at a time.” Coridan helped empty and sell her father’s Columbus, Ohio house from afar after he died. “I was sorting out the need to move quickly to resolve issues in the estate and balancing that with really honoring, and trying to respect, the needs of his wife,” said Coridan.

To read more articles about preparing to age in place visit home-and-garden.

Coridan helped her sister, the executor of the will, step outside of her more amiable personality to do things outside of her comfort level. Carol Barrett, 75, began moving items out of her house in Fairfax County a couple of years ago and wishes she had done it sooner. She wants to move into smaller property within six months, she said. Barrett has lived in the home for almost 50 years with her husband Bob, who has Parkinson’s disease and is in memory care four days a week. Her husband has physical limitations and she would like to move into a one-story home. Barrett said she’s worked with four downsizers, but the most practical one stood in front of a cabinet and said: “this is how I would do it.” Crouch noted that a lot of people he has worked with stayed in their home too long because they have not only their lifetime of belongings, but they have their parents’ stuff, too. “The home becomes a museum to generations past, but there are ways to remember great grandma other than keeping all of her stuff.”

HANDLING ESTATE SALES The first thing to know about estate sales is that stuff isn’t worth nearly as much as you think it’s going to be, Coridan said. Don’t think just because you have Waterford products, antiques or glass, it will sell for a lot, she said. “It costs money for those people to move things around,” she said. “You

have to make decisions not based on emotions, but based on strategy. ‘That was my grandmother’s table and it’s been in the family for all these generations.’ It doesn’t matter; understand it’s not personal.” It’s important to set expectations from the beginning of the process. For example, it’s important to tell your real estate agent something is getting painful, she said. You don’t want to get four steps farther down the process and say, “I’m still mad because my grandmother’s furniture was sent to Goodwill,’” Coridan said. For the seniors and their family, it’s a very emotional process, said Sack. “All of these items have sentimental value, but not necessarily monetary. It’s hard for people to let go of those things,” he said. Deciding what to keep and let go is one of the hardest parts of downsizing, Barrett said. “It is rewarding to clear things out and see closets emptied,” she said. “And finding things you didn’t know you had.” People will take advantage of others experiencing grief, Coridan said. She likes to make sure her clients don’t undersell items. What advice does Barrett have for others downsizing their homes? “Be patient with yourself and with your stuff,” she said.

January / February 2019 •




How to Dispose of Old Electronics For many people, the latest OLED televisions, smart watches and home automation systems were on the top of the holiday season wish list. That means a lot of “old” technology is on its way out of their homes — but where should it go? If you have a shoebox or drawer full of old electronics (and their chargers), and an old television or computer in the basement or garage, here’s how to get rid of them safely and responsibly. Start with an online search: Most major manufacturers allow you to mail them your old electronics for


recycling — check with the manufacturer of your cell phone, hard drive or other electronics for services they offer. Cell phones in particular can be provided as a resource for victims of domestic violence. Remove your SIM card and delete all data, then donate old cell phones to Secure the Call, which works with local police departments. Cell phones may also be recycled through ReCellular, Inc., Recycle for Breast Cancer, or at most Best Buy or Staples locations. Many of these locations also accept charging cords for recycling. Shred Station Express in Alexandria also takes electronics for destruction by appointment, including hard drives. Electronics that do not have sensitive data on them can be recycled at 3324 • January / February 2019

Colvin Street, the Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Collection Center for the City of Alexandria. The City of Alexandria facility can also take refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers. The facility is open Saturdays and Mondays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. More information about what you can and can’t recycle is available at In Fairfax County, residents can bring electronics to the I-66 Transfer Station (4618 West Ox Road, Fairfax) or the I-95 Landfill Complex (9850 Furnace Road, Lorton). Some Fairfax County government offices also accept cell phones. More information on hours for various locations and what is and is not accepted is available through










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What is the most challenging part of playing the part of Martha Washington?


I constantly check to make sure what I am doing is based on primary source documents and scholarly research. It is an incredible honor to portray Martha Washington but a huge responsibility; the most important thing to me is to share who she really was and not perpetuate myths about her and George Washington.

What do you enjoy most about portraying Martha Washington?


Elizabeth Keaney Young Martha Washington

Getting dressed up to play young Martha Washington at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate is a honor — but it’s also a huge responsibility. Keaney has been a museum educator since 2001. “I’ve taught history, art and science in museums from DC to Alaska,” she said. She was first hired at Mount Vernon in February 2004. “When I returned in 2017, it was my fourth time being employed at Mount Vernon,” she said. “I’ve been a history interpreter, historic trades interpreter and character interpreter.” For Keaney, playing young Martha Washington at Mount Vernon is the fulfillment of a longtime goal. “I was working as a history interpreter at Mount Vernon and was helping Mary Wiseman, the incomparable Lady Washington, during Christmas programs and realized the work she was doing was my dream job,” she said. “I literally ran after her after the program and asked if she would teach me,” she said. “Mary has been my mentor for 13 years. We have been working toward this opportunity for more than a decade!” Keaney plays the role of young Martha Washington Monday through Thursday; you’ll most often find her in the historic area or the Interpretive Center. “I mostly portray Mrs. Washington at Mount Vernon,” she said, “but through our outreach programs, I’ve portrayed her in schools and other venues to share Mount Vernon’s mission.” Elizabeth Keaney grew up in St. Louis, Mo., but moved to Rockville, Md. when she was 17. “The DMV is home,” she said.

58 • January / February 2019

Seeing the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that “we” (George and Martha Washington) are proud and loyal subjects of His Majesty, King George! I portray Martha Washington in the years leading up to the American Revolution when many colonists hoped for an amicable solution to their disagreements with Parliament. My goal in portraying a younger Martha Washington is to show how the early years of their lives informed the icons they would become.

What have you learned about Martha Washington that surprised you most? That she wasn’t the wealthiest widow in Virginia! In fact, she didn’t inherit any of the property her first husband owned after his death. It was all held in a trust for their children because Daniel Custis died without a will. But she managed it herself until she married George Washington. Can you imagine? What an incredible woman.

Do you alter your own mannerisms or way of speaking to portray Martha Washington? Absolutely. One of the greatest resources is Martha Washington’s letters. She wrote quite candidly to her family and they give great insight to her style of speaking. The clothing, made by our fantastic seamstress Kathrin Breitt Brown, makes a huge impact on how I move — the stays (a corset-like garment) and layers of petticoats are very different from my regular athleisure wear. Language and clothing are very important to character interpretation; they help bring our visitors to a different time via audial and visual cues.

When you aren’t playing the first lady, what do you like to do for fun? I love visiting museums. I believe museums and historic sites have the ability to transform lives and maybe even change the world.

What do you like most about Alexandria? I love that Alexandria is a vibrant contemporary place that appreciates its rich history. Having working artists at the Torpedo Factory mere blocks from the site where Washington built a townhouse is incredible and I love that Alexandria celebrates all of it.

What would you change about Alexandria if you could? Can we get a street named for Martha Washington?

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