Newsletter

A unique documentary is coming to McLean with a message about the danger and injustice that Black people face in America — in the past and present.

The McLean Community Center is making the virtual reality experience “Traveling While Black” available to visitors for free in its lobby from Dec. 15 through Feb. 12.

“As we near Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month events, we hope our patrons will take the time to come learn with us and become change agents in creating the world that Dr. King envisioned in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” MCC executive director Daniel Singh said in a news release.

Providing 360 degrees of footage, the movie, which debuted in 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival, draws on a half-century of civil rights struggles for justice, framed through a conversation at D.C. mainstay Ben’s Chili Bowl.

“‘Traveling while Black’ is a term people use to illustrate that in America when you are Black and you are going from point A to point B, you are always at risk,” director Roger Ross Williams said in a statement. In 2010, he became the first Black director to win an Oscar, awarded for his short subject documentary, “Music by Prudence.”

“Traveling While Black” features Samaria Rice, who lost her 12-year-old son, Tamir, when police killed him in Cleveland in 2014 while he was playing in a park with a toy gun. The Justice Department said on Dec. 29, 2020 that there was insufficient evidence to file charges against officers.

The movie also includes civil rights leader Courtland Cox. Among his efforts to bring racial equality, he worked to create a political party in Lowndes County, Alabama, and helped people there register to vote in the 1960s. The county eventually elected its first Black sheriff in 1970.

People can sign up online for hour-long appointments at the McLean Community Center from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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A volunteer group that describes itself as the “unofficial town council” for the McLean community is getting an encore for its 100-plus years of service.

The McLean Citizens Association celebrated the milestone during a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), highlighting ways the organization has helped make the area what it is today, such as by contributing to the founding of the McLean Community Center.

The organization’s first meeting was on Nov. 2, 1914 as the School and Civic League of McLean, and the group celebrated a century of work in 2014.

But MCA was incorporated on June 25, 1921, giving it another chance to recognize its past.

“It’s been over a 100 years since we’ve been incorporated, and there aren’t a lot of corporations…that last 100 years,” MCA President Rob Jackson said, crediting the organization’s historians, Merrily Pierce and Paul Kohlenberger, for bringing the date to the group’s attention.

MCA has sought to give residents a local voice and minimize the effects of rapid urbanization on the community’s identity, according to a 100-year anniversary booklet, “The Voice of McLean: One Hundred Years of the McLean Citizens Association,” available in the Fairfax County Public Library’s Virginia Room.

The group was reincorporated in 1953 as the McLean Citizens Association with the tagline “the Voice of McLean.” Today, it continues to advocate for various civil, educational, and social interests, from hosting forums with public officials to weighing in on development in the greater McLean area.

According to Kohlenberger, MCA’s founding was driven by school needs.

When the Franklin Sherman School, which consolidated one-room schools in the area, opened in 1914, it lacked basic supplies. The League rallied to raise money to furnish a school auditorium, buy library books, help pave local roads, and further aid the community.

“The school was delivered, but there were no chalkboards, no books, nothing else for the students’ use,” Kohlenberger said. “That led to a tradition that we continue to this day: McLean Day.”

In 1922, the group’s civic leaders also helped launch the McLean Volunteer Fire Department and negotiated with Alexandria Power Co. to bring electricity to McLean, the booklet notes.

The power company brought a line from Falls Church and created a distribution center around a decade later. The station has undergone upgrades since then and can be seen at Chain Bridge Road and Westmoreland Street.

Other notable work by MCA, as detailed in the booklet, include:

  • Opposing a 1957 interim Fairfax County plan eyeing McLean for a 60-acre shopping mall and apartment development, instead calling for such proposals to be located in Tysons
  • Helping launch the McLean Community Center as the founding benefactor. It provided funding and part of its land to create it, notably in the ’60s and prior to a 1970 bond referendum.
  • Helping steer county funds to create McLean Central Park and a former space there called the McLean Green at the apex of Route 123 and Old Dominion Drive
  • Advocating for the county to focus on creating a park — instead of facilitating a 1969 residential development — that became the Scotts Run Nature Preserve
  • Creating a committee in 1970 to preserve trees that later turned into the nonprofit McLean Trees Foundation in 2004
  • Forming the nonprofit McLean Community Foundation in 1978 to provide philanthropic grants for community projects
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Morning Notes

Reduced Metro Service Continues — “Although the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) said Wednesday it had improved service on a number of its Metrorail lines, customers should expect reduced service to continue at least until Nov. 30.” [Patch]

MCC Offers Vouchers for Feedback — The McLean Community Center has hired the consulting firm AMS Planning & Research to conduct a community survey regarding its future operations and programming. Five randomly chosen respondents will receive $60 vouchers that can be used for MCC-sponsored classes, camps, and other activities or an Alden Theatre performance. [MCC]

Zero Waste Store Now Open in Vienna — “Trace the Zero Waste Store opened on Sept. 23 at 140 Church Street NW. This is only one of two zero waste stores to open in Northern Virginia…Vienna’s new store seeks to be a one-stop location for essentials such as dry goods and personal care items to help reduce the amount of waste humans produce and its impact on the planet.” [Patch]

Leila Co-Owner Rules Local Nightlife and Lobbying Scenes — “Washington isn’t exactly known for its nightlife, but when the scene does hit, say, Page Six, Basnayake’s spots tend to be the backdrop. But get this — all while trying to build up the city as a Saturday-night playground for the young, trendy, and ready to party, Basnayake has also held down the most Washington job in Washington. He’s a lobbyist.” [Washingtonian]

Luther Jackson Teacher Engages Students with Escape Room — “The pair worked to craft the county school system’s first escape room, an academic puzzle for the school’s eighth graders to review material taught in seventh grade. Since the concept debuted earlier this month, it has some students so invested that they asked Hoffert if they can return after school to complete the maze.” [WTOP]

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Updated at 4:50 p.m. — The gas leak at Dolley Madison Library has stopped, and all Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units have returned to service, the department has reported.

Washington Gas said in a statement that it discovered a gas line had been damaged by a contractor, but the company was able to stop the flow of gas around 3:30 p.m., and it’s now working to repair the line. There has been no impact to customers other than the library, and service will be restored there after repairs are complete.

Earlier: Dolley Madison Library and the McLean Community Center have been evacuated due to a gas leak at the library, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says.

Both facilities have been closed, as has a stretch of Ingleside Avenue by Oak Ridge Avenue.

Fire department units are currently on the scene at 1244 Oak Ridge Avenue in McLean. The department says a gas pipeline was struck by workers, but so far, the identity of the workers and the project they were involved with is unclear.

In a 2:33 p.m. update, FCFRD shared that the line is 2 inches in size, and the leak had been stabilized with no injuries reported. Washington Gas has arrived at the scene and is currently working to stop the leak.

MCC says the Old Firehouse Center will still be open for its after school program.

Traffic on Ingleside Avenue by Oak Ridge is being diverted.

David Taube contributed to this report.

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A new website called McLean Today launched last week with the ambitious aim of being a one-stop shop for all things related to events, activities, and shopping around McLean.

The website is a Voltron-like collaboration of several local groups: the McLean Citizens Association, the McLean Chamber of Commerce, the McLean Community Center, the McLean Revitalization Corporation, the McLean Planning Committee, and the McLean Project for the Arts.

“McLean residents and visitors looking for dinner, a local activity, a special gift or a hard-to-find item will find their search simplified by using the recently released McLean Today website,” a press release from the site said. “McLean Today, the collaborative effort of several local community organizations, is a new one-stop site to find many of the activities, events, goods and services that are close to home.”

The site’s lead organizer is local resident Kim Dorgan, who is also on the board of directors for the McLean Revitalization Corporation.

“McLean Today is your go-to source for the latest information on the activities and events, goods and services offered here in our hometown,” Dorgan said in the press release. “There is so much great information out there about what McLean has to offer, but there has been no central source to find what is offered day-in and day-out. With McLean Today, you can find what you need close to home in one place with a single search.”

The site has a selection of local dining options categorized by type. According to the press release, there are over 40 food and drink outlets listed on the site, as well as 100 businesses within walking distance or a “short drive” from McLean.

The McLean Today website launches even as Fairfax County works to do more on a planning and policy level to revitalize McLean’s downtown. The press release also notes that the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses played a role in inspiring the website’s creation.

“The aim of McLean Today is to provide a list of activities and events in one place that have community-wide impact and are of interest to the general public,” Dorgan said. “While its primary focus is the economic center of McLean in the downtown corridor, it will include activities and events throughout all of greater McLean.”

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The Borisevich Duo, featuring pianist Margarita Loukachkina and violinist Nikita Borisevich, will perform at The Alden in McLean (courtesy The Alden Theatre)

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, The Alden hopes to bring a drop of golden sun with the upcoming launch of its fall season, which will bring audiences back into the theater for the first time since the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) closed in March 2020.

Kicking off on Oct. 16, the lineup features four musical acts and a performance by the dance company Pilobolus, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary starting in October.

In a statement, MCC Executive Director Daniel Singh says he and the center’s performing arts staff, led by director Sarah Schallern Treff, designed the season around themes of recovery, reimagining, and reconnecting — all of them linked by the prefix and musical note “re,” which he says suggests a transition as the last step in the solfege scale.

“‘Re’ embodies the tension of our times — the venturing out into the world away from home base, the uncertainty of the future and the pull between the two,” Singh said. “Keeping this framework in mind, this fall, we are offering several programs that are familiar and comforting, but we also have new directions for our patrons to explore with us. We hope you find both old and new communities at McLean Community Center.”

Face masks will be mandatory inside The Alden, as they are in the rest of the community center, and to enable proper social distancing, every other row in the auditorium will be blocked off, with at least two empty seats between each party, according to the theater’s website.

All employees, artists, and volunteers will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test from within the past week, and theater workers will undergo regular health screenings.

The Alden is also relaxing its refund policy, allowing patrons to get their money back for a show until curtain time, so that people will feel free to stay home if they feel sick.

Here is the full lineup of performances for this fall from MCC’s news release, issued Tuesday (Sept. 28):

The Okee Dokee Brothers
Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 16-17, 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.
$20/$15 MCC district residents
As the GRAMMY-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander, have built a plaid-shirted national following with their outdoor adventure-themed albums, “Through The Woods,” “Can You Canoe?” and “Winterland.” But whether it’s indoors or out, the Okee Dokee Brothers believe that as long as folks are singing together there’s a glimpse of hope for our world.

The Borisevich Duo
Sunday, Oct. 24, 2 p.m.
$10/$5 MCC district residents
The Borisevich Duo, featuring pianist Margarita Loukachkina and violinist Nikita Borisevich, is an internationally acclaimed violin and piano duet, frequently performing across the United States and Europe.

Native American Fusion Music with D’DAT (Virtual Workshop)
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m.
Free Admission. Registration is required.
Learn more about the composition process and culture before D’DAT’s performance in The Alden this January. D’DAT’s music mixes three American art forms–jazz, native southwest and hip-hop styles–to create a sound that is uniquely theirs. This is a great opportunity for musicians of all ages to learn directly from the artists and ask questions.

“Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey” with Damien Sneed
Wednesday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.
$30/$20 MCC district residents
Award-winning, multi-genre recording artist and instrumentalist Damien Sneed is a pianist, vocalist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. “Joy to the World” takes the listener through Damien Sneed’s original arrangements of gospel, jazz and classical favorites.

A Klezmer Hanukkah with Alexandria Kleztet
Saturday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.
$20/$15 MCC district residents
Hanukkah comes early this year, but the Alexandria Kleztet keeps the party going with festive Klezmer tunes and a little jazz thrown in. Chag Sameach!

Pilobolus “Come to Your Senses”
Sunday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.
$40/$30 MCC district residents
Pilobolus invites you to “Come to Your Senses!” Engage with childlike wonder in the miracle of your senses through both classic and brand-new repertory that begins by examining our biology and ends by utilizing the senses in a refreshing immersion in the biosphere.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online or by contacting Alden Patron Services Manager Evelyn Hill at [email protected] or 571-296-8385.

While the auditorium has been closed, The Alden hasn’t been entirely out of commission during the pandemic. The theater staged two “Drive-Thru Drama” productions last summer, where audiences watched actors perform from their vehicles like they would for a drive-in movie screening.

The Alden has also hosted some online and smaller in-person events, including yesterday’s “123 Andres” performance.

MCC says The Alden will continue its new season with additional performances “centered on recovery, re-imagining, reaffirming, and reconnecting with each other” in the coming winter and spring.

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Morning Notes

Vienna Debates Zoning Changes for Lot Coverage — As part of its ongoing zoning code rewrite, the Vienna Town Council held a public hearing on Monday (Sept. 27) to get feedback on proposals to ease the town’s 25% limit on lot coverage for residential properties. Commenters were split on whether to maintain the existing rules or allow more space for front porches, decks, and other structures. [Sun Gazette]

County to Give Update on Clemyjontri Master Plan Revision — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is holding a Public Comment Meeting to gather public input on the draft master plan revision for Clemyjontri Park. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Franklin Sherman Elementary School located at 6633 Brawner Street, McLean, Virginia.” [FCPA]

MCC Board Commits to Prioritizing Equity — The McLean Community Center Governing Board issued a statement yesterday (Wednesday) saying it will make diversity, equity, inclusion, and access top considerations when developing facilities and programming. The commitment aligns the organization with Fairfax County’s One Fairfax policy “to promote a responsive, caring and inclusive culture.” [MCC]

Photos: Wolf Trap Concludes 50th Anniversary Season — “The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts closed out its 50th anniversary season over the weekend, with a giant gala that raised over $2 million.” [Washingtonian]

Firefighters Wear Capes to Cheer Up Inova Patients — “Earlier [Tuesday], #FCFRD firefighters rappelled down the @InovaHealth Children’s Hospital building to visit and encourage young patients. ‘I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.’ — Superman” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter]

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The McLean Community Center Governing Board will hold a public hearing tonight (Wednesday) on its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023. The board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at MCC’s 1234 Ingleside Avenue facility.

While COVID-19 has been a source of difficulty, the proposed $6.3 million FY 2023 budget is based on “assuming operations will be under normal conditions for the full year,” according to proposed budget draft.

Program revenue for FY 2021 was $929,000 lower than the adopted budget, though MCC also saved roughly $1 million in operating expenses.

The community center continues to be challenged by the effects of the pandemic in the current fiscal year 2022. Program and event registration has increased, with alternate and virtual programs still being made available, but safety precautions still require lower occupancy limits.

For FY 2023, the proposed revenue projections are as follows:

  • Real estate tax: $5.2 million
  • Interest on investments: $20,000
  • Rec class fees — instructional programs: $467,300
  • Special events: $53,400
  • Performing arts — theatre: $114,550
  • Youth program fees: $138,910
  • Old Firehouse Teen Center: $212,500
  • Visual arts activity fees: $0
  • Miscellaneous (facility rentals, ad revenue, etc.): $89,325

The proposed budget would cover 389 recreational classes, 169 performing arts events, seven youth events, and 14 special events, including a Fourth of July celebration, McLean Day, and the annual McLean 5K.

MCC’s summer camps are also expected to generate $126,000 at full capacity.

Operating expenses addressed by the budget include the annual operation of the center and regular costs of facility maintenance, utilities, instructor fees, theatre productions, and operating costs for events. The personnel expenses include salaries, as well as taxes and benefits.

Preliminary projections for expenses include the following:

  • Administrative service: $974,115
  • Facilities services: $864,365
  • Public information: $508,947
  • Recreational class — instructional programs: $771,737
  • Special events: $633,746
  • Performing arts — theatre: $1,539,733
  • Youth program: $353,555
  • Teen center: $696,629
  • Visual arts activity: $25,000

Capital improvement projects on the docket for FY23 include electric vehicle charging stations, shade and sails, a community mural, and $750,000 to renovate the community center’s roof.

The governing board is scheduled to approve an FY23 budget when it meets on Oct. 27.

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Students with the Traveling Players will perform at Tysons Corner Center on Sept. 26 (courtesy Traveling Players Ensemble)

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

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

Tuesday (Sept. 21)

  • Indigo Girls with Ani DiFranco at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road) — Joined by feminist singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, the Grammy Award-winning folk-rock duo returns once again to Wolf Trap park. Proof of a vaccination or negative test for COVID-19 is required. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets start at $45.50.

Wednesday (Sept. 22)

  • Bo-Nita — 8-9:30 p.m. at Boro Park (8350 Broad St.) — Tysons theater company 1st Stage continues its run of its latest play, which runs through Sunday (Sept. 26). The show follows the story of a 13-year-old girl and her mother trying to survive. Tickets start at $20, with discounts for military members and students.

Thursday (Sept. 23)

  • The Avett Brothers at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road) — The indie folk band, a Wolf Trap favorite, comes back to the park its knows-no-bounds sound ranging from bluegrass to acoustic rock. Proof of a vaccination or negative test for COVID-19 is required. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets start at $50. Another performance is scheduled for Friday.
  • (Not) Strictly Painting — 7-8 p.m. at McLean Project for the Arts (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — The opening reception for a juried art exhibit kicks off. Works from over three dozen artists will be featured.

Friday (Sept. 24)

  • Sunset Cinema — 7:45-10 p.m. at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave.) — Falls Church City’s fall outdoor movie series continues with “Cars.” Visitors are encouraged to grab blankets, bring picnics, and/or enjoy snacks, drinks, and popcorn for sale.
  • Parmalee — 6:30 p.m. at The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — Closing out a September concert series is country music band Parmalee, known for its No. 1 Country Airplay hitCarolina.” Doors open at 5 p.m.

Saturday (Sept. 25)

  • Teens on the Green — 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Vienna Town Green (144 Maple Ave. East) — The Town of Vienna highlights teenage artists with a free concert open to the public.
  • Harvest Happenings — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — Celebrate fall with this indoor and outdoor festival that features a petting zoo, entertainment, crafts, and games. Pumpkins will be available for purchase. Registration is required.
  • Fall Festival — 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Mosaic District (2910 District Ave.) — This two-day outdoor festival features crafts, a beer garden, kids activities, live entertainment from local artists Pop Stereo and Groovalicious, and more.
  • Fall Fest — 12-4 p.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad St.) — The Tysons development ushers in fall with a family-friendly event featuring games, seasonal beverages, doughnut decorating, a hayride photo booth, and more.

Sunday (Sept. 26)

  • The Blue Monster — 1:30-2:30 p.m. at The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — Middle school students with the Tysons-based Traveling Players Ensemble will take the stage to perform the family-friendly fairy tale, Carlo Gozzi’s twist on the “Beauty and the Beast” story.
  • Pimmit Hills Day — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Olney Park (1840 Olney Road) — Led by the Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, a neighborhood celebration brings together entertainment, food, and kids-friendly activities, including a moon bounce obstacle course.
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Morning Notes

Lieutenant Governor Candidates Speak at Tysons Luncheon — “Candidates for lieutenant governor of Virginia told their personal stories and articulated their values at a Sept. 1 luncheon in Tysons, but provided few specifics on what they would seek to accomplish if elected.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

MCC to Hold Public Meeting on Budget Tonight — “The McLean Community Center (MCC) Governing Board will hold two, in-person budget meetings this month in order to gather input and suggestions from the residents of Dranesville Small District 1-A on the Center’s fiscal year 2023 budget. The first meeting, the Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons Startup Raises Millions in Funding — The Tysons-based startup theCut, a mobile platform that enables users to book and pay for barbershop appointments, announced last week that it has raised $4.5 million in seed money, bringing its total funding to $5.35 million to date. Company leaders say they will use the funds to build out a team that currently consists of 20 employees, including interns. [DC Inno]

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