Tysons, VA

After noticing harm done by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vienna community members banded together to help D.C. residents in need.

Lydia Russo, who organized the fundraiser on the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group, said that the group raised roughly $20,000 to support Martha’s Table, which works to support education programs, healthy food and family outreach.

Russo told Tysons Reporter that she was impressed with Martha’s Table’s work East of River and wanted to partner with them to benefit the Barry Farm neighborhood, which is near one of the centers for Martha’s Table.

“I wanted to go with a well-known charity because they have a well-organized program that is intertwined in the neighborhood and has a good system going,” Russo said.

In the first two days of the fundraiser, Russo said the effort raised $18,000 — far exceeding her expectations.

“My first ‘goal’ was only $1,000. Then it increased to $5,000,” she said. “Within the week, we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people donate — children, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, people I’ve met, people I’ve never met, people who heard about the fundraiser from a friend.”

The check is set to be hand-delivered to Martha’s Table this week by Russo and both of Vienna’s incoming and outgoing mayors, Russo said.

“My hope was to show that we are all part of one larger community, and we should think of our neighbors and put our thoughts and words into action,” Russo said.

Though the fundraiser ended yesterday, Russo encourages people to organize their own fundraisers or donate to Martha’s Table directly, since the nonprofit accepts donations year-round.

Photo via Martha’s Table/Facebook

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After people in Tysons noticed roughly 100 trees were cut down on the edge of an upcoming townhome and condominium development, a community Twitter account asked its followers who might be responsible.

Tysons Reporter found the answer — the property along Magarity Road is slated for redevelopment by the Toll Brothers Group. The group claimed responsibility for taking down the trees.

Previously, the property named The Commons at Mclean was abandoned and overgrown by weeds until taken over by the new developers.

Eric Anderson, the president of the Toll Brothers Group, said that the trees were in a development right of way and needed to be taken down.

“Per the [Tysons Comprehensive Plan], there were requirements in place to allow for [a] future right of way on all sides of the property,” he said, adding that the space will be used to build a bike lane, sidewalks and an expanded roadway.

“I ran that trail this morning. Missing the sweet smell of pine. They were old-growth trees as well, probably 40-50 yrs old each,” one person commented on Twitter.

By the time the new development is complete, Anderson said that 355 new trees will be planted on the property.

Photo courtesy @TysonsVA /Twitter

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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!

Though many in-person events are canceled, organizations and businesses are setting up digital events to keep people occupied.

Tuesday (April 21)

  • Free Mecial Traning The American Red Cross in McLean is putting together digital training for people who want to learn about adult and pediatric first aid, CPR, lifeguarding and more at 9 a.m. This training is free but participants must sign up online.
  • Online Budget Town Hall — Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust will host a digital budget town hall from 7-8:30 p.m. People can submit questions by calling 703-324-1114, post them in a comment under the Facebook Live event or email them in advance. The town hall will also be shown on Channel 16 and be streamed online.
  • Virtual Trivia at Lost Dog Cafe The cafe is hosting free trivia for community members starting at 7 p.m., streamed live from the location in McLean. This event is free and prizes will be mailed to winners, the event page said. People who want to support the eatery can order from the location’s menu and can use the code “delivery” for free delivery.

Thursday (April 23)

Friday (April 24)

  • Mother Goose Minutes Every Friday, the Mary Riley Styles Public Library will post a story time and music video for kids featuring Miss Laura starting at 10:30 a.m., the post said. Anyone who wants to check out the rhymes beforehand can find them online. The videos can be found on the library’s website after they are posted.
  • Friday Art Focus — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library is hosting a free Facebook Live event at 3 p.m. with local artist and illustrator Samantha Fiddy. She will be recreating drawings sent in by viewers beforehand. Anyone interested in participating can tune in or submit work to be recreated to [email protected] People can follow the library’s Facebook post for a link closer to the event.

Saturday (April 25)

  • Virtual Independent Bookstore Day Bards Alley Bookshop in Vienna is planning a virtual day of activities and guests from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to its Facebook page. Details have not been announced yet but people can check the store’s social media accounts for details. People can order books online for curbside pick-up (110 Church Street NW).

Photo via Bards Alley Bookshop/ Facebook

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Three Vienna residents, who want to put the town on the map for foodies, decided to create Vienna VA Foodies on social media, which have since attracted the attention of thousands of people.

Founders Lydia Russo, Christopher Drinkuth and Katherine Drinkuth first came up with the idea to create a Facebook group to bring together food lovers while chatting at the annual Taste of Vienna event last year, Russo told Tysons Reporter.

“Chris, Katherine and I would join together and give our reviews on who was our favorite vendor, which item we enjoyed the most, and thus, we were inspired to create Vienna VA Foodies as a project to work on in our free time,” Russo said.

Vienna VA Foodies, which has more than 2,000 followers on Facebook and an active commenter base, began roughly six months ago. The Instagram account, which has roughly 340 followers, only began in January after the trio decided to expand their outreach efforts.

“The members — consisting of Vienna citizens and neighbors — are frequently posting local happenings, their personal restaurant reviews and even crowdsourcing answers to questions about restaurants that cater to their diet needs,” Russo said, adding that the three founders usually just act as moderators.

As a Taste of Vienna volunteer and local real estate agent, Russo said she wanted to help her community celebrate the “vibrant food scene.”

Currently, the group doesn’t plan to monetize the Facebook or Instagram pages for their personal gain, according to Russo, who said the group often relies on donations and giveaways from restaurants or bars who want to promote themselves in the group.

Just last week, the Chick-Fil-A in Vienna partnered with the group to give away eight prizes to people who commented on a post within the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group after doing other giveaways throughout town the same day.

As a realtor, Russo said she often uses the food scene in Vienna to convince people to buy real estate in the area and thinks the social media accounts will help the town thrive economically.

As the accounts continue to grow, the group wants to encourage chatter within the channels.

“There is now a forum that allows for there to be easy communication between the business owners, chefs and local community,” Russo said.

Image via Vienna VA Foodies/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Home Prices Up, Building Permits Down — The latest Fairfax County economic indicators show that home prices are up 5.8 percent year-over-year, but single-family building permits are down 25.9 percent. [Fairfax County]

Dental Office Celebrating 15 Year Anniversary — “While The Boro and other developments are in progress nearby, Nicole Van’s dental office has become a mainstay in the community.” [Patch]

Local Teen Performing at Kennedy Center — Fourteen-year-old Falls Church resident Makenzie Hymes “will have the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage of her still-young dancing career so far as Clara in Ballet West’s new production of The Nutcracker, which will have its Washington, D.C., premiere at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Dec. 5.” [Fairfax Times]

The Changing Face of Fairfax County — “We have a greater diversity of racial and ethnic population than we did two decades ago. Compared to 2000, Asian and Pacific Islanders made up the highest increase, from 13.1 to 19.5 percent in 2018.  Our Hispanic population increased from 11 to 16.2 percent.” [Fairfax County]

FCPD Social Media Star Retiring — “In bittersweet news, our beloved K9 Moose is retiring! On more than 250 posts, Moose has earned over 40,000 combined likes across all of our social media platforms.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

‘Fish Taco’ Coming to Boro in Tysons — “Fish Taco, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant with three locations in Maryland, plans to open its first Virginia store at the Boro development in Tysons… by June next year. A rep for Fish Taco tells Eater the new location in the mixed-use development will have space for 60 customers to consume taco platters, salads, rice bowls, burritos, and quesadillas — all utilizing local and seasonal ingredients.” [Eater]

Mall Hours for Black Friday — “Tysons Corner Center… will be open for 28 hours straight. This year, the mall opens at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22 and will remain open Friday, Nov. 23 from midnight-10 p.m. Across Chain Bridge Road, Tysons Galleria will be closed on Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, hours will be 8 a.m.-9 p.m.” [Patch]

Dulles Toll Road Rates Going Up — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors voted Nov. 14 to increase rates on the toll road again, starting this coming January. Drivers of two-axle vehicles, who now pay $2.50 at the main toll plaza, will see that rate jump to $3.25, and those entering or exiting tolled ramps will pay $1.50, up  from the current $1.” [InsideNova]

Herndon Site Still in the Running for Apple — Though Apple is “seriously” looking at a site in Tysons for a large new East Coast office, the company is also eyeing some other locations, like the 26-acre, state-owned Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon and sites in Raleigh, N.C. and Atlanta, Georgia. [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Blood Drive Was a Success — “With the holiday season quickly approaching, hospitals are continuously using blood products faster than donations are replacing them. With an urgent blood drive, sponsored by McLean Dermatology and Skin Care Center, volunteers and staff aimed to reach a goal of getting 40 donors during this Sunday’s drive — in which the goal was met.” [WJLA]

Parks Dept. Riffs on Facebook Outage — A tweet this morning from Fairfax County Parks: “Facebook and Instagram are down. Seems like a great excuse to take a walk and enjoy some face-to-face conversation in a park.” [Twitter]

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(Updated at 9 p.m.) Some 425 people attended today’s Social Media Week Fairfax event in Tysons, absorbing insights and ideas for anyone working in social media, marketing or startups.

The event, hosted by Fairfax County Economic Development Authority at Capital One headquarters, was a one-day convention of panels and networking that primarily focused on how businesses, large and small, engage on social media.

The keynote speaker and celebrity for the PR world was Judy Smith, a crisis management expert and the inspiration for the show Scandal. The biggest points Smith highlighted were speed and tone of responses to calamity.

“There’s an appreciation of mistakes when you embrace it and you own it,” said Smith.

Smith said organizations often wait more — sometimes much more — than 45 minutes before responding to an incident, by which time public opinion has already started to form.

One cause, according to Smith, is that companies can get tangled up in communications between different departments. Companies can also be slow to admit the whole truth, while Smith says the best answer is usually just to let all of the bad news come out at once like tearing off a Band-aid.

“You also have to pick the best time and vehicle to respond,” said Smith. “There was a CEO who apologized in 15 posts on Twitter. Given the seriousness of the matter, I would not have responded to that on Twitter. If a food company has a massive recall where people are sick or dying, I wouldn’t tweet ‘sorry about the bad food.'”

Smith said part of working in crisis management is working on controlling the narrative. In her own life, when the producers on Scandal approached her about adding in an intimate relationship between her character and the President, Smith said she got on the phone with President George H.W. Bush, for whom she had worked as a press secretary, to let him know.

Smith said when President Bush called her back and left a voicemail, joking that “you called me” and “you left me,” she fired back that he couldn’t make jokes about that.

“If you don’t follow these talking points,” Smith recalled telling Bush, “I will call Barbara.”

These days, Smith said things are moving faster in social media, saying her largest concern is that the population seems to have increasing difficulty discerning fact from fiction.

“One year ago, there was something I was looking at on social media and it was trending too fast,” Smith said. “When my team checked, it was because the other side had hired two bot companies to tweet about it. That’s how it went from zero to five million tweets in two minutes.”

Despite the prevalence of untruth on social media, Amanda Waas and Tammy Abraham from National Geographic emphasized the importance of being genuine.

“People can see right through anything on social media,” said Tammy Abraham. “If you’re not authentic, if it doesn’t feel true, everyone knows it.”

To this end, Abraham said that the National Geographic’s Instagram account is handled almost exclusively by photographers in the field. There are general guidelines, but Abraham said letting photojournalists have unfiltered access to the social media has helped build a following for the brand.

This extends to working with sponsored content as well.

“We’re not just going to post an ad,” said Waas. “Even for branded content, it needs to follow certain guidelines.”

“We have to find a common place to tell an authentic story,” said Abraham. “We can’t tap into an authentic story without something meaningful to tell.”

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Morning Notes

Police Release Sketch of Vienna Robbery Suspect — Fairfax County Police have released a sketch of the suspect who robbed a man at gunpoint on Oct. 6 along path to the Vienna Metro station. [Facebook]

Rapid Pace of Tysons Development — The pace of development in Tysons is impressing even seasoned local business people. At a recent Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce breakfast, the gathered crowd was wowed by a slide showing buildings now under construction and approved developments in Tysons. [InsideNova]

Local Firms Place High on Fortune List — From the most recent FCEDA E-Bird: “Hilton and Mars Inc. are among the top three places to work — not just in Fairfax County but in the world according to Fortune.com. San Francisco-based Salesforce, Tysons Corner-based Hilton and McLean-based Mars ranked 1-2-3 based on employee surveys conducted by Fortune partner Great Place to Work around the world. Companies racked up points based on respect, fairness, pride, camaraderie, and trust.” [Fortune]

FCPS Digital Citizenship Week — “This week is Digital Citizenship Week in our county schools and it’s important for parents/guardians to help children become safe, ethical, responsible and respectful digital citizens.” [Fairfax County]

Cvent Makes Big Acquisition — Tysons-based event tech company Cvent has acquired D.C.-based event and venue planning startup Social Tables for, reportedly, more than $100 million. [Washington Business Journal]

Reminder: Social Media Week Fairfax Tomorrow — Social Media Week Fairfax, featuring a number of marquee speakers including Judy Smith of Scandal fame, will be taking place tomorrow (Thursday) from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at Capital One HQ in Tysons. A complete agenda is available here.

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Update on Sept. 18 — Social Media Week Fairfax has been rescheduled for Oct. 18.

The uncertainty of Hurricane Florence’s path has led to Social Media Week Fairfax being postponed. 

The event, originally scheduled for Friday (Sept. 14) in Tyson’s Capital One Auditorium, is a one-day forum on how social media and technology are influencing society. Tickets purchased for the event will be valid for whichever date the event is rescheduled for.

“Please know that this decision did not come easily, but our main concern is and will always be the safety of our attendees and speakers,” said Rachel Adler, executive director of Social Media Week Fairfax, in a statement. “We are currently looking for a new date to present the same great lineup and will be contacting you shortly.”

The hurricane — currently a Category 3 storm — is expected to make landfall Thursday night. While the projected route will have North and South Carolina taking the brunt of the impact, substantial wind and rainfall is still expected in parts of Virginia.

The storm is expected to bring 2-4 inches of rain locally with the potential for flooding over the weekend. The impact of the flooding could continue into next week as floodwaters make their way southeast across Fairfax County, according to the county government.

Tomorrow’s Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) meeting to discuss congestion solutions in McLean, meanwhile, has been cancelled. Supervisor John Foust said the meeting was cancelled partially because of the weather risk and partially to allow VDOT to focus its effort on storm-related transportation issues. The meeting will be rescheduled.

Image via NOAA

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