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January 2011

The Greater Raleigh Court Civic League

R a l e i g h C o u rt — A H i s t o r I C A L N E I G H B O R H O O D L O O K I N G F O R WA R D

It Takes a Village…to Put on a Parade By Ellen A. Brown It may not be the biggest parade in Roanoke, but as an annual event bringing joy to young and old, our Grandin Holiday Parade is truly spectacular, a community activity more ambitious and better attended than any other neighborhood celebration. For parents, the parade offers a long awaited morning of wholesome good fun, as their children squeal with laughter at the silly clowns, wave at friends marching in the band or riding on a float, and race to pick up candy being thrown into the crowd. For oldsters, like me, the sights and sounds trigger nostalgic memories of long ago, and make us feel welcome in the midst of so many families and neighbors. If you were there on November 20th, I’m sure you know what I mean, and if you missed it, be sure and come out for it next year. I got to wondering about all the love and hard work that brought about this miraculous spectacle, and decided to try and track down some of the “elves” behind the scenes. Did you know that the men’s group at Raleigh Court United Methodist Church started making

Inside This Issue President’s Message..................................................... 3 Raleigh Court History................................................ 3 More Public Art in the Neighborhood......................... 4 More Than Just Coffee............................................... 5 Children’s Holiday Parade Photo Collage..................6-7 The Connected Neighborhood..................................... 8 Things You Need to Know........................................ 10 Calendar................................................................. 10

their Brunswick stew at 4:30 am that Saturday morning?… or that by 8:30 am the parade organizers were already out putting up signs?…or that the Preschool at Raleigh Court Presbyterian had been working on their Indian costumes all week long? … or that the Shriners' (a.k.a. Klowns, Beach Bums, Characters, and Abnormals) have been the mainstay in Roanoke parades for almost one hundred years? I’ve gathered stories from several people. Meg Fitzwater, the director of the Raleigh Court Presbyterian Pre School, says that her children (about 125 of them) have great fun getting costumes ready for the parade: tan pillow cases and necklaces with an Indian theme. Apparently tradition really matters, for many were disappointed the previous year when the school was unable to find the usual tan colored pillow cases and had to substitute green pre-school T-shirts. Meg thinks the school has participated for at least fifteen years in the parade, and appreciates the good publicity generated by so many parents and children (about 300 people) walking down the street with their banner, Growing, Learning Together. Speaking of tradition, Robert Turkotte loves to tell of his well established responsibilities on the day of the parade – putting up signs, lining up the floats and performers in a certain order (interspersing loud acts with quiet ones, etc.), riding on the corner of the fire truck, ushering Santa to his chair, and then taking down signs after the crowds have dispersed. His love affair with —continued on page 6

January Meeting

Assessment and Appraisals - Everything You Need to Know About Home Valuation Our home is often our biggest investment. There are many ways to improve a home’s value, or at least keep it from declining. By keeping the value of our homes and local businesses strong, we can keep our neighborhoods strong. Join us at 7:00 pm on Thursday, January 13 for a panel discussion with Bob Floyd of Floyd and Varney Appraisers as well as KC Bratton from Roanoke City’s assessors’ office concerning home valuation. Location: Fellowship Hall of Christ Lutheran Church, located at the corner of Grandin Road and Brandon Avenue.

Greater Raleigh Court Civic League Officers 2010-2011 OFFICERS President: Chad Braby 798-2576 Vice-President: Vacant Treasurer: Ruth Dickerson 345-2187

Martha Graves Immediate Past President: Susan Koch 345-9977 COMMITTEE CHAIRS: Membership: Greg Brock

Special Projects: Tony Stavola 345-0010 Greenways: Mike Urbanski 344-1388 Building Management: Bobby Hartman 204-1440

Recording Secretary: Keith Dabbs 342-2446

Adopt-a-Highway: Kurt Navratil 343-7373

Corresponding Secretary: Cassandra Van Hyning 798-1996

Brook Dickson

Web & Social Media: Jake Gilmer

Neighborhood Affairs Committee: Vacant

The Court Reporter is published by the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League fives times a year on or about the first week of September, November, January, March, and May.

Directors at Large: Greg Brock Melissa Morgan 312-3587 Jake Gilmer Matt Pritts

Grandin Road Merchants Liaison: Kurt Navratil

Program: Melissa Morgan Mary Dykstra Dawn Werness 343-2151 Newsletter: Ellen Brown 981-0206

Green Up Lawns & Landscapes

389-2208 page 2

From the President

President’s Message If you’re reading this, it probably means you’ve survived another holiday season. The visiting family has departed, the decorations have been put away and the leftovers have been eaten. The credit card bill hasn’t shown up yet, so all is well. Another new year is upon us. 2011. I enjoy the December holidays and all that comes with them, and having young children brings a new perspective on the joy of the season. But they’re not my favorite on the annual calendar. I’ve always been partial to the secular celebrations; St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Fourth of July. I’m particularly fond of New Year’s and count it as one of my favorite times of the year. Historically, the celebration of a new year dates back to ancient Babylon in 2000 B.C. The initial fest of the new year occurred in the spring, and was an eleven-day commemoration of rebirth that began on the first new moon after the spring equinox. Over the next 2,000 years, the date was subject to many changes. Early Christians objected to the paganism of the lunar based calendar and held a random flipping of the page to be without spiritual merit. In 46 A.D., Julius Caesar established January 1 as the start of the year when he ruled in favor of a solar-based system of reference, which he un-creatively named the Julian Calendar. While we still utilize his calendar today, it’s only in the last 400 years that the Western world has agreed that January 1 is significant. Clearly, New Year’s is somewhat arbitrary. For my part, it’s more than a convenient excuse to have a party (although I like that aspect as well). After the madness of a busy December, the post-Christmas week is refreshing. There’s a return to normalcy that fits my slightly obsessive desire for order. Surely I’m not the only one who enjoys putting the decorations away as much as getting them out? The world at the office feels different as well, providing a week of relative quiet to get caught up. The days are short, the nights long and dark. A perfect time for reflection. Thoughts on the year past, anticipation of the year to come. Time. Slows. Down.

Raleigh Court History By Nelson Harris For many years, a gas station was located on the corner of Memorial Avenue and Grandin Road, located where the Virginia Heights Baptist Church’s courtyard is today. The church actually acquired the corner lot in 1918 and erected a small A-frame building on it, holding their first service in that building in late December of that year. When the Baptist church constructed a more permanent sanctuary along Memorial Avenue in 1922, they moved the A-frame building alongside the new building. With the lot vacant and the congregation deciding to face its current sanctuary (built in 1938) toward Memorial, the lot was sold in 1937 to the Texas Oil Company (Texaco). For three years prior to that the lot had been leased to the Alleghany Gas and Oil Company as a filling station and later to the Fulton Motor Company and then Ward’s Service Station. The service station changed hands a few more times, according to listings in the city directory. It was Hurst and Sunday Filling Station in the 1948 directory. This was followed by Gibson’s Service Station and then by 1960 it was the Grandin Texaco and remained so through the 1980s. Virginia Heights Church re-acquired the property in the 1980s and converted it to the courtyard area that it is today.

At midnight on December 31, a fresh start. In my mind’s eye, the morning of January 1 always dawns a little brighter. The daily rhythm begins anew, and the days start getting longer. Here in the Roanoke Valley, there’s still a solid two months of winter ahead, but even that seems survivable. I’ve often found New Year’s Day a great time to gather with friends. We’ll put on several pots of soup and chili and invite folks to stop by for a bowl and some football. What could be better than a literal daylong parade of college football? It’s common to use the flipping of the calendar as a time to resolve to make improvements in one’s life. While I see the appeal of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve never really adopted the practice. The few times I’ve tried, I’ve failed miserably at keeping them. And if I need to change something, I guess May or September is as good a time as January. Instead of a resolution, I’ll offer a toast. Please raise your beverage of choice and join me: 2010 surely had its difficulties, but we remain extraordinarily blessed to work and play in a wonderful neighborhood, City, and valley. In 2011, may we be reminded of this daily, so as not to take it for granted. See you around the neighborhood. Photograph by Kara Duffus

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More Public Art in the Neighborhood By Susan Koch Most of us have appreciated the large, friendly Trojan Dog in front of Raleigh Court’s firehouse on Memorial Avenue. It’s part of the city’s Art in Roanoke program that places public art around Roanoke. But you may have missed another interesting AIR project hidden just on the border of our neighborhood. To find it, cross Memorial Bridge. Then take the little road alongside Black Dog Salvage down to the Vic Thomas Park and the Roanoke River Greenway. There you’ll encounter an undulating arrangement of old lamp poles. Called “In Flux,” the striking 40 by 35 foot sculpture was created by Bland Hoke of Wilson, Wyoming and Matt Rink from Redding, Connecticut. In Flux is part of their Lamp Pole Project which has produced a number of lamp pole installations around the country. The artists are fascinated with all the possible arrangements and re-arrangements of the poles. They’re also determined to create artwork with minimal impact on the environment. As they say, “Nothing lasts, but nothing is lost.” Not only does the sculpture look good in its new location, but it fits the spirit of the site. The park replaces a trailer park which frequently flooded. The plan is to keep the park as natural as possible with native plantings that will attract wildlife. The park honors the late representative Vic Thomas who served 30 years in the House of Delegates and was a strong conservation advocate. After you admire the sculpture, you can walk the greenway. A new bridge now connects the greenway to Wasena Park. Both Trojan Dog and In Flux are temporary art installations, according to Roanoke’s Public Art Coordinator Susan Jennings. They will remain in place for about 18 months and are funded by the Percent for Art Program. One percent of the cost of certain public construction projects is set aside for public art in the city. The artwork is selected by a group of volunteers.

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More Than Just Coffee By Susan Koch

Raleigh Court seems the ideal spot for a neighborhood coffee shop. It’s the kind of place where residents want to know their neighbors and are happy for the chance for leisurely conversations and accidental encounters. Yet a series of coffee houses flopped, leaving the neighborhood with no casual gathering place and no high octane caffeine. So it was a good sign when the baby strollers were piled up in front of CUPS one fall afternoon. The neighborhood is clearly embracing the newest addition to Grandin Village. The comfortable tables and benches from Black Dog Salvage invite neighbors to linger over cups of locally roasted Honest Coffee and enjoy comfort food from other Grandin Village restaurants. The décor of CUPS feels like the shop has always been there, and most days you’re likely to encounter a friend as you sip your coffee. That’s just what CUPS’ owner Michelle Bennett had in mind when she opened this fall. A Raleigh Court resident for eleven years, Michelle’s welcoming face makes it comfortable for neighbors to stay awhile. Yet none of this would have happened if Michelle hadn’t fallen on hard times last spring. That’s when she was laid off from her graphics design job at Mill Mountain Michelle Bennett CUPS Owner Theatre. As she looked around for her next one, she realized that, “There are kids in the womb who know more about web design than I do. Nobody wanted to hire a 51 year old graphics designer.” So she decided to be her own employer. She loves her neighborhood, and had always thought that we needed a place for folks to gather. She started exploring locations for a coffee shop. When she found that she could sublet some space from Rockfish and that some of the equipment from a former coffee shop was still there, her plan began to come together. She’d had experience in food service, cooking at restaurants like Wildflour and Alexander’s, but she’d never run a business. She knew she needed help. Luckily, she discovered Tom Tanner, founder of Photo USA and now a business counselor at the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center. Tom helped Michelle with her business plan and financial projections. He also led her through all the details of setting up a business, including accounting systems, regulations, licensing and permits. Tom’s mentoring has been crucial to Michelle. And it’s all free, thanks to the non-profit that employs him. As she was planning, Michelle did her own market research. She spent many hours in the Village, studying the ebb and flow of people on the streets. This helped her set her operating hours and estimate the size of her business. And she sampled a lot of coffee and food to find the best suppliers.

She settled on coffee roasted by another Raleigh Court resident Chris Spoon. Chris created CUPS’ signature blend, Double D. “He has a tremendous feel for coffee,” says Michelle. “He loves every bean.” A crucial decision for Michelle was not to cook food at CUPS, but to offer a variety of eats from other restaurants, bakeries and stores. This made opening the coffee shop much simpler, but she still works hard to get the quantities she orders right. So does Raleigh Court finally have a coffee shop that will last? It sure looks like it. Even on a bleak, cold winter afternoon, there was a steady stream of customers. Michelle says there’s a rhythm to the day, starting with the commuters on the way to work, then the moms dropping kids off at school, followed by the business people who need a place to meet and the shoppers, then the high school kids. Next come the commuters on their way home from work, then the visitors to the Village who go to the Grandin or just want to hang out at night. And then there are the study groups, the book clubs and even the knitting circle that have all made CUPS their home. Michelle, who loves crosswords and puns, makes them all welcome. For those who want to do something different in the evening, drop by on Tuesday evenings. Michelle calls Tuesday “Cracker Jack Night” because there’s a surprise inside. Recent Tuesdays have featured a coffee tasting led by Chris Spoon and a ginger bread man decorating party. Michelle now has a staff of three and is expanding her hours. She’s at CUPS every day, seven days a week, and her commitment shows. “I’ve had 30 jobs, starting when I was 15,” she says. “I plan to work another 20 years, and this is my last job.”

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CUPS Coffee & Tea 1402 Grandin Road HOURS: Sun-Thurs: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm Fri-Sat: 7:00 am - 11:00 am Sandwiches and Bagels from Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op Biscotti and Scones from Vive La Cupcake Cheesecakes from Lick the Spoon Croissants and Cookies from Breadcraft

Parade—continued from page 1

parades began as a young boy, explaining that he “was the shyest child in Roanoke,” but that he discovered how much fun it was to be marching in a parade. His heart goes out to the children, the elderly and the disabled. He told me about his friendship with Steven, a victim of Cerebral Palsey, who lived at the Raleigh Court Health Care Center, and who always managed to roll his wheelchair out to the sidewalk. Robert also likes to tell about Richard Aiken, who owned Richard’s Salon behind the co-op basement. He was a veteran glider pilot from WWII. They would work together doing the line-up, along with Lou Ellis. Even though Richard died four years ago, Robert thinks about him each year when the parade reaches that parking lot, thinking he was there watching. “He just loved that parade. It’s about children.” About twelve years ago, the Raleigh Court United Methodist Church Men’s Group developed a very successful project to help children and support the church’s Community Outreach Program – by cooking up huge cauldrons of Brunswick stew (totaling 80 gallons!). If you haven’t tasted their stew, I recommend putting in a reservation for next year. Will Urquhart tells me that they are at capacity with this fund-raiser, selling 95% in advance of the parade. He thinks this year’s proceeds will go to helping support the church’s participation in the interfaith hospitality network (IHN), a program that arranges for homeless families to spend the night in the church, several times a year. Will says that the real emphasis is not so much on the fund-raiser, or on bringing visibility to the church, but as a way to support the parade and the families. I haven’t contacted any scout leaders yet (perhaps that will be coming in the next edition), but I did meet some proud scout parents. In fact the many wonderful parade photographs seen here were contributed by parents of Cub Scouts. Twila DiMarco, mother of a Tiger Cub at 1st Presbyterian Church and Whitney Smith, father of a cub from Pack 221 at RCPC, just happened to be carrying around fancy cameras at the parade, so I accosted them and invited them to send me some pictures for use in this publication. Boy, was that a brilliant idea! Their images cover just about every entry in the parade, including llamas, Greyhounds, big drums, floats, cars, trucks, and so much more. I’m not sure anyone got a picture of the Norman Fishing Tackle Choir, though, so I’ll just have to try again next year. [Photos of the parade were taken by Twila DiMarco (mother of a Pack 1 Tiger Club from First Presbyterian) and Whitney Smith (father of a scout in Pack 221 from Raleigh Court Presbyterian).]

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The Connected Neighborhood Chad Braby Social Media. It’s a term that has quickly become part of the lexicon, and is often equated with Facebook. Rightfully so, this connotation, as the internet behemoth recent surpassed Google as the website with the most daily hits. One might assume Facebook, like any other pop culture trend, is a fad that will soon come to pass. Increasingly, odds are one might be wrong. With usership exceeding a half-billion people (yes, that’s a ‘b’), the trend is gaining a gravity that’s not easily reversed.

A local early adopter of social media in the Roanoke Valley, Jeremy Holmes, joined GRCCL for our November gathering to offer his opinion and insight on the subject. Holmes’ day job is Program Coordinator for Ride Solutions, a grant-funded operation under the large umbrella of the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission. The program’s goal is to reduce vehicle miles on local roads, and it uses a variety of tools including car-pooling, bicycle routing, and mass-transit partnerships to achieve its mission. Since its establishment, Ride Solutions has successfully utilized social media and a variety of online resources to spread the gospel. Holmes has also advised other individuals and groups in social media marketing, and is a behind-the-scenes player in a number of recent local initiatives. Holmes defines two very general schools of thought regarding the wired universe. The first is “the internet is killing the world.” Critics point to the slow demise of print media and lament the death of the professional journalist’s role in presenting news. Others voice concern over privacy and personal safety. Identity theft and financial loss is certainly a real problem with clouds of data floating freely. But an unrelated and perhaps more dangerous concern involves the permanence of the trails we’re leaving. Through our e-mails, pictures, status posts, and conversation threads, we’re offering an indelible portrait of who we are as individuals. Often, our information is intended for a select group of “friends,” but do we really want last New Year’s lampshade portrait placed in the public realm forever?

A second broad summary is “the internet is saving the world.” By connecting and communicating, we are flattening the world. Each trend is global. Every advancement is instantaneously trumpeted. When barriers and blockades are exposed, one witnesses a profound effect on the spread of “capital T” Truth and Democracy. A perfect case study can be found in the response to the last round of elections in Iran. Citizens took to the streets to protest voting irregularities, and used the internet and handheld social media tools to organize huge numbers. Their grainy cell phone videos were seen on CNN almost immediately. Although the Iranian government’s crackdown was predictable, the events demonstrated the increasing difficulty for evil and wrongdoing to exist without exposure. Pull back from the global picture to the local view in the Raleigh Court neighborhood. Certainly social media, with its aspiration of building online community, is taking root. However, Holmes was less clear about the future of the wired world. And while much ink is spilled and hands are wrung and billions are spent in anticipation of what’s to come, he’s not alone. No one is really sure where all this is going. Of one thing Holmes seems confident, saying “hold on tight, because it’s going somewhere.” The Civic League has hopped on for the ride. We’ve recently updated our website to a user-friendly version that allows for blogging. We’re on Facebook, and have a growing number of fans. In the near future, we’ll announce a move toward online membership sign up and dues-paying. Regrettably, we’ve encountered some potholes in the road. As an all volunteer organization, our leadership and membership has a limited amount of time to offer the cause, and blogging and online communication often takes more time than simply talking with one’s neighbor. It’s also less-fulfilling. We’re wired for the face-to-face interaction that a computer monitor cannot provide. Ultimately, the Civic League’s mission of Building Community mirrors that of online social media, so we’ll look for ways to continue the ride. Stay tuned.

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Things you need to know… Volunteer Tree Stewards Program Greg Brock sent along this announcement from Bob Clement, Neighborhood Services Coordinator…Roanoke Parks and Recreation is looking for “Volunteers for the Community Forest” to participate in a Tree Steward Program, designed to train volunteers to care for trees and teach others about the urban forest. The program is FREE of charge and will be held in Room 159 in the City of Roanoke Municipal Building on Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. beginning on January 24, 2011. Volunteer Tree Stewards prune trees, conduct tree inventories, plan Arbor Day events, and educate homeowners. The course begins with 28 hours of combined classroom and hands-on training. An additional 30 hours of volunteer work will be required to complete the program. 20 hours of community service is suggested per year thereafter. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited to 25 participants. The deadline to register is January 17, 2011. If you have a passion for trees and think you might be interested in volunteering, contact Urban Forestry Planner Helen Smythers at 853-5225.

More About Catalog Homes… Since publishing the article about catalog homes by Erica Taylor in our last issue, many people have expressed interest in learning more about the homes in our neighborhood. Ruth Dickerson has identified one on Arlington. In fact, the former owner showed her all the documents to prove it. Ellen Brown, avid historian, is hoping to organize a workshop later this spring, and will try to bring together some of the architectural experts to help us identify the houses in our neighborhood that may have been shipped here on a train way back in the 1920s or 30s… As Erica explains,

The close of World War I and the start of the Jazz Age signaled the high point for Sears’ catalog homes. Yearly catalogs contained over 90 different design plans including plans for garages, outhouses, and chicken coops. Catalogs also included interiors for different design plans to showcase other products that could be purchased from Sears. These designs were extremely modern for their day with centralized heating systems, electric lights, and indoor plumbing. Design plans could be modified by flipping floor plans or selecting different wall claddings. The popular architectural styles for Sears catalog homes were Colonial Revival, Spanish Revival, Queen Anne, Cape Cod, Prairie Style, a few Modern style homes, and the most popular option, the Craftsman Bungalow. If you’d like to read more about catalog homes, Erica suggests the following websites…

Calendar GRCCL Social Mixer at Local Roots.........Jan 25, 2011, 5:00pm Upcoming GRCCL Membership Meetings: Christ Lutheran Church............................Jan 13, 2011, 7:00pm Christ Lutheran Church...................... March 10, 2011, 7:00pm Christ Lutheran Church..........................May 12, 2011, 7:00pm

Raleigh Court

NEIGHBORHOOD MIXER Tuesday, January 25 • 5 - 6:30 pm

Local Roots Restaurant • 1314 Grandin Rd

~Drink Specials~

~Appetizer Specials~ Hosted By:

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Greater Raleigh Court Civic League P.O. Box 3092 Roanoke, VA 24015


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q new member q renewing member New members are welcome to join the Civic League at any time. Your mailing label shows when it’s time to renew your membership. You may pay your dues at the next membership meeting. Multiyear or life memberships are welcome! The Civic League is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Donations may be claimed as charitable deductions for tax purposes.

Please mail your membership dues ($10 family, $15 business, or $100 life membership) or gifts to: GRCCL, P.O. Box 3092, Roanoke, VA 24015 Or go to and click on “JOIN US” to fill out a membership application online. Name Address

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GRCCL newsletter 2011-01  
GRCCL newsletter 2011-01  

Neighborhood newsletter.