Tysons Corner, VA

This year’s 16th annual “Sunset Cinema” series features three family-friendly flicks in the City of Falls Church.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department will host weekly movies at Cherry Hill Park (223 Little Falls Street) beginning at 7:45 p.m.on Fridays.

This week’s pick is Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch” on this Friday (Sept. 20), followed by “Hocus Pocus” on Sept. 27 and finally “Back to the Future” on Oct. 4.

All movies are free and open to the public.

Drinks and popcorn will be available for purchase, and attendees are welcome to bring picnic blankets or lawn chairs for comfort.

In case of bad weather, the showing will be moved indoors to the nearby community center.

Image via the City of Falls Church

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A company in the City of Falls Church is rethinking cell phone service to eradicate dead zones across the globe.

Lynk is a new startup in the process of launching satellites that will allow cell phone users to send and receive SMS texts anywhere in the world within 55 degrees north or south of the equator.

Though they aren’t operational just yet, they want to show partners that their technology is beyond that of science fiction, said CEO and Co-founder Charles Miller.

By working with cell phone companies, Lynk will be able to provide secondary service from satellites when it isn’t available from normal towers, Miller said.

The idea for the startup came from Co-founder and Cheif Operating Officer Margo Deckard during her time in Africa easing the impact of Ebola through data and satellite information, Miller said.

Deckard noticed people had a hard time communicating with one another using technology because wi-fi and cell tower service were not available and wondered if satellites could be a solution.

When the team first proposed the project there were lots of naysayers, Miller said. But given his background as a senior adviser for NASA, he was confident in the capabilities of satellites and his team.

“Basically people thought it was impossible and assumed it couldn’t be done because it defied conventional wisdom,” Miller said.

Lynk said getting funding was one of the largest roadblocks he faced, adding that the company needed investors to fund prototypes and test-runs. After three rounds of funding, the company finally received in June the $12 million they needed to begin test runs.

Lynk will launch all of their satellites through the International Space Station in Florida.

Now, the company has 33 partners, including multi-billion dollar European call phone carrier companies Vodafone and Telefonica, who are monitoring Lynk’s growth.

The company recently decided to rebrand from Ubiquitilink Inc. for clarity and ease of name recognition. Miller said that it was hard to spell and it didn’t translate well into other languages.

Lots of investors have been suggesting they move their headquarters to Silicon Valley, but Miller said he considers Northern Virginia to be his home as well as a hotbed for innovation.

Looking forward to the future, Miller said the company will focus first on establishing reliable text messages before they establish bandwidth for phone calls or data streaming services. He said 3,000-5,000 text messages can be sent with the same bandwidth that it takes to support one five-minute phone call.

“We would rather service 3,000 to 5,000 people than lock up that one channel,” he said.

Once they manage to raise capital through private companies, they will expand to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard, Miller said.

To meet their upcoming goals, Miller said they are looking to recruit one more investor by the end of the year.

The company is currently looking to hire eight different positions, including a vice president of business development and a telecommunications software engineer.

Image via Lynk.world

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Commuters in Fairfax County may soon see new anti-panhandling signs at major intersections.

At a Fairfax County Public Safety Commission meeting today (Sept. 17), county officials discussed strategies to keep panhandling at bay while still helping community members in need.

Back in July, the board approved a board matter from Supervisors John Cook and Pat Herrity that would prohibit “curb to curb” interaction between drivers and pedestrians, and the board directed county staff to create a proposed ordinance for the board to consider at the meeting today.

The ordinance, though, wasn’t brought up. “I thought we were going to have a draft ordinance today,” Herrity said.

Popular ideas discussed included implementation of informational signs at intersections, conducting surveys among panhandlers to see what resources the county can provide them and the possibility of implementing future ordinances.

Representatives from the County Attorney’s Office and the Public Safety Office presented signage from other jurisdictions that addressed the issue by discouraging passers-by from giving panhandlers money. The signs included a hotline suggesting resources for those in need.

“I think we should go the signage route before we consider an ordinance,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust agreed with Bulova’s statement. “We should try to avoid criminalizing behavior that is not having a serious impact,” he said.

Throughout the discussion, board members echoed concerns surrounding panhandling, saying that people hanging out near intersections are more likely to be hit by cars.

“I don’t care who it is or what they are trying to raise money for… [panhandling] is unsafe and I don’t like it,” Cook, who represents the Braddock District, said.

A few of the board members said they think putting up signs makes more sense than passing ordinances because if drivers stop handing out money, panhandlers won’t be making money anymore and will lose motivation.

“You’ve got to find out how to get these folks into a different environment and how to help them,” Cathy Hudgins, a board member representing Vienna and Reston said, adding that she thought the board is off to a good start toward a solution.  

As for where the signs would go, Providence District Supervisor  Linda Smyth said that the county will need to coordinate with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Now, the motion to approve the suggestions will be voted on at the Board of Supervisors meeting next Tuesday (Sept. 24).

“Have at it — all of the above,” Smyth said about the anti-panhandling suggestions.

Images via Fairfax County

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Two new art exhibits are set to debut in McLean this week.

Original artwork by Meghan Walsh and Miriam Mörsel Nathan will be on display from Thursday, Sept. 19, until Saturday, Nov. 16, at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue).

In partnership with the McLean Center for the Arts, there will be an evening reception on Friday, Sept. 27, at the MCC from 7-9 p.m. It is free to attend, and the artists will speak about their work.

Walsh’s “An Fharraige Fheargach: The Fiery Sea” will be located in the Emerson Gallery while Nathan’s “Some Pieces of the Nature of Things” will be displayed in the Atrium Gallery.

Nathan began her career as a poet and writer — hints of which can be found in her latest artwork which features calligraphy and fluid linear drawings.

Nathan said she did not know Walsh beforehand, but was excited to discover her work. “We have some similar sensibilities,” Nathan said.

Walsh is known for her mixed-media sculptures that incorporate rock and metal. “They speak of our quickly changing world, tapping into a deep historical perspective as they point out the dignity and beauty found in the communion of unexpected objects,” the event page said.

Though the exhibit doesn’t feature any pieces made specifically for the event, Nathan said all of her work was made within the last three years.

“I love the notion that people see art when they enter a building,” she said, adding that she is excited to have her work on display for the McLean community and was familiar with the center’s activities even before this opportunity.

Image courtesy Miriam Mörsel Nathan

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Sept. 17)

  • Brewery and Buzz Oktoberfest — 5 p.m. at Barrel & Bushel (7901 Tysons One Place) — Attendees have the opportunity to try Old Ox Brewery and Ardent Craft Ales and also win prizes.
  • Garden Wisdom — 7:30 p.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 S. Center Street) — Representatives from Plant NoVA Native and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District will teach attendees how to rethink their gardens. This event is free.

Wednesday (Sept. 18)

  • Entrepreneur Express — 9 a.m.-noon at City of Falls Church Economic Development Authority City Hall (300 Park Avenue) — This free event invites upcoming business owners on how to receive free advice on how to be successful in their ventures and stay ahead of challenges.

Friday (Sept. 20)

  • Murder and Marinara — 7-10 p.m. at Maggiano’s Tysons Corner (2001 International Drive) — This event will offer attendees a full three-course meal with bar specials and a night of mystery twists. Tickets are $75.

Saturday (Sept. 21)

  • Oktoberfest Kickoff at Tysons Biergarten — 3-7 p.m. at Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike) — This event celebrates the new season with a ceremonial Weihenstephaner keg sent from Germany. $10 entry includes several tastings.
  • Zumba — Beyonce Get Me Bodied — 8-8:45 a.m. at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner Atrium (7920 Jones Branch Drive) — This event allows attendees to dance their heart out while exercising alongside Beyonce-loving friends.

Sunday (Sept. 22)

  • Broadway Princess Party — 3 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) — This musical experience invites attendees to experience stories of Disney princesses acted out on stage. Tickets range from $35-$85.
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Columbia Baptist Church wants to expand in the City of Falls Church — but residents and Planning Commissioners have concerns about parking in the area.

At a Falls Church Planning Commission meeting on last Tuesday, Sept. 3, residents and commissioners discussed how parking expansion might affect not only the already-strained street parking situation but also how it might encroach on neighboring historic buildings.

In a zoning proposal application, the church requested two waivers concerning parking. They proposed to expand into a required 10-foot easement of a historic property near the back of the church, which would circumvent the city ordinances for shared parking. The church claims they have agreements with local property owners and that their services often take place during off-hours.

Along with growing membership, Brett Flanders, the executive director of the church, said the plan for extra parking would benefit its child development center. The on-site parking expansion would make it safer for parents to pick up their children and allow staff members to avoid street parking, he added.

Reducing the easement by 25% would provide the church with room for 15-25 more on-site parking spots, Planning Commission Chair Russell Wodiska said.

During the discussion, several commissioners including Melissa Teates were not convinced by the statements.

“I think the integrity of the historic houses are more important than the parking,” she said.

Teates said that she is familiar with the church and took the time to observe daycare pick up one day, finding that many parents like to park on the street anyway — saving them time in the long run.

“I just think regardless of the use, putting the parking lot so close to the historic house seems to go against the spirit and the letter of the ordinance put in place to protect historic properties,” Planning Commission Vice-Chair Andrew Rankin said, adding that he doesn’t see parking as a high priority.

Community member Keith Thurston also spoke up at during public comment and addressed the Planning Commission about his concerns, agreeing that the integrity of the historical protection ordinance is more important than expansion of church parking.

Besides parking, commissioners also discussed issues with the height ordinance, including whether or not the cross on top of the chapel would violate city code.

Though the commissioners did not settle on a decision, they prepared a list of suggestions for Columbia Baptist to consider and allowed them to revise the proposed plans.

If the church stays on schedule with their adjustments, the Planning Commission will vote on the proposition in October.

Map via the City of Falls Church Planning Commission 

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A new Halloween-themed experience opens this afternoon (Friday, Sept. 13) in Tysons Corner Center.

The American Scream Selfie Museum lets people interact with installations based off spooky movies, TV shows and pop-culture icons by snapping selfies.

The $18 entry fee gives guests 45 minutes to explore 4,200 square foot of space, spokesperson Maurisa Potts said.

Guests can interact with scenes similar to “Game of Thrones,” “Annabelle,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and other movies and TV shows, like a chair made of swords called “The Throne.”

Visitors can search for several “easter eggs” hidden throughout the selfie museum. These include framed newsprint of a historical Maryland witch hunt and an incident in the eighth season of “Game of Thrones” when actors left a Starbucks cup on set.

The space features $70,000 worth of props that set designers found at garage sales, antique shops and even Craigslist, according to Jon Libbesmeier, the set-designer and co-creator of American Scream.

Though dimply lit and designed to be spooky, staff said that there will not be anyone jumping out to scare visitors.

The company created similar installations in the D.C. metro area in past seasons, which attracted women aged 24 to 34, though all are welcome, Libbesmeier said.

“Groups of professional women coming to this as a group of friends is our bread and butter in the D.C. market,” Libbesmeier said.

He said this is not typical around the country but he assumed there are lots of young working professionals looking for things to do in the area.

The hours of operation are 3-10 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekends. The exhibit will also be open on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Halloween.

The pop-up installation will run from Sept. 13-Nov. 1.

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Chubbies plans to close their Brandbox location in the Tysons Corner Center this weekend.

The men’s casual apparel pop-up store will close Sunday (Sept. 15), a store spokesperson said, adding that the location was never meant to be permanent.

Chubbies opened in March and offers customers a range of items including men’s swimwear, shorts and accessories.

A sign outside the sop announced a going-out-of-business sale, advertising clothing starting at $9.99.

During the location’s final days, the store will be open Friday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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A new fast-food restaurant in Tysons Corner Center wants to help refugees.

Falafel Inc. opened for business at their new location on level one of the mall earlier this week, according to a staff member. Besides just serving an array of Mediterranian fare to customers, the company also provides jobs and food for refugees, according to its website.

“Falafel Inc. is the world’s first falafel quick-service food social enterprise,” according to the company’s website. Tysons Reporter has reached out to learn more about how the proceeds benefit refugees.

Menu items include falafels, hummus, various dips and fries, with prices ranging from $3 to $4.

The company has three spots in the D.C. area and six “coming soon” to Boston, Palo Alton and Los Angeles in California, Amman in Jordan, Dubai and Mexico City.

Falafel Inc. will celebrate its new Tysons spot with a ribbon-cutting on Saturday, Sept. 28.

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Urban Hot Pot is expanding to the Mosaic District, adding to the several other eateries and shops popping up in the commercial center.

The restaurant, known for its traditional Chinese-style dining, will move into an open space at 2980 District Avenue, Suite 110, according to a construction permit application.

The location is preparing to open this winter, a company spokesperson said, adding that owners are still awaiting county approval to redesign the space’s interior.

The original location in Rockville, Md. at 1800 Rockville Pike will remain open for business as the company expands.

Unlimited lunch prices start at $19 and $26 dinner, according to the menu. The price includes unlimited food featuring sliced meats, vegetables and noodles that diners cook themselves in a pot of steaming broth.

The hours of operation for the new location have not been announced yet.

Photo via Facebook

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