News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Most Reston Band Name Ever

Reston band
Reston's outsized influence on the rock and roll noise the kids are digging these days is well documented, the fact that the name of its best-known current act violates DRB regulations notwithstanding. But Confidential Restonian Operative "M" sent us this cellular telephone photo from a Leesburg nightspot, and one of the acts caught our eye:

Wow. Sadly, these folks aren't from our beloved earth-toned community. But with that name, they really should be, the end.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Talloakspocalypse Now: Third Time May Not Quite Be The Charm For Proposed Redevelopment

Green Space
Hey, remember that time that a developer bought the alarmingly deserted Tall Oaks Village Center Stucco Wasteland and announced plans to add a bunch of midrise residential and maybe a few stores and whatnot that caused much sadness among planned community founders and neighborhood types alike, ultimately prompting the RA to dash off a strongly worded letter about maintaining open space and other amenities?

Yeah, that was awesome. Turns out the new owner, Jefferson Apartment Group, recently submitted another revision to its plan for redevelopment. They're sticking with around 150 residential units and 7,000 square feet of retail space, focused in two boxy buildings, one of which is new, near the entrance to the development -- which sounds like a lot, until you realize the handful of small existing tenants in the Stucco Wasteland currently occupy more space than that. They also moved things around to provide a more central green space area, apparently without adding more actual open space. Our BFFs at Reston 2020 are not amused:

The most we can see that JAG did in response was to add a second small retail building near the village center entrance and shift the blocks of residential buildings around so the same limited green space looks like a narrow lawn and asphalt spine through the center of the development. There is no plaza or central green that serves as a neighborhood focal point; what is proposed barely serves the development.
Not so fast, naysayers! The new site plan has some pretty sweet renderings of some awesome village center-like amenities. Brace yourselves!

Open lawn Which can double as a putting green if Reston National's would-be developers get their way.

  Passive "Passive" sounds about right.

  Bus Shelter Which will be helpful when you want to go somewhere with some open space.

  Fitness Can't wait to do chinups next to a 7-11!

  Dog area At least until the lawsuits start kicking in.

  Shady Or the building height will take care of that for us.

So all in all, it's pretty clear all these concerns are totally unwarranted! Pinch yourself, and you just might think you're in Reston Town Center. Still, our BFFs at Reston 2020 aren't convinced. Maybe they didn't see the shade element:
So what we are left with is the conclusion that the public meetings held by JAG were just a large-scale sham to make the community think that they were listening when, in fact, they cared little about what the community thinks is important in retaining Reston's and their neighborhood's character and vision. The meetings were merely a public relations gambit with a dash of a sales job thrown in on the minor modifications they conceded.
We know we're not getting a Wegman's, or even a Bloom's, at Tall Oaks. High-quality residential would definitely be a huge improvement over what's currently at Tall Oaks (then again, so would a couple of cardboard boxes with holes punched out for windows dropped in the center of the parking lot). But given the fairly universal demands that this village center retains some of the qualities of a village center, maybe a little more tweaking is still in order, the end.

Attention Facebook BFFs

Apparently Facebook, like a certain HOA, has arbitrary DRB regulations -- they deleted the old page after years of service, presumably for using the wrong shade of Russet Blue. Please "bookmark", or "like," or whatever the kids are doing these days, this new page, for all the latest from our favorite earth-toned community.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Strand of Simon's Legacy

Much has been written about Robert E. Simon since his passing earlier this week. One common strand -- perhaps one we too often take for granted -- keeps resurfacing.

Snippets of tributes from the excellent Reston Remember When Facebook page:
My parents moved to a flat roof townhouse off of North Shore Drive in 1970. Looking back, it was a lovely place to grow up. I didn't understand it then, but there absolutely was a sense of tolerance and equality. Everyone was treated the same, or so it seemed.
I will forever cherish the oasis that was Reston, VA, a place where I grew up and shaped me into the woman I am today. A place where all colors and creeds came together blind to color. A place where I never experienced any intolerance or racism. Never saw a confederate flag and had my mind opened beyond belief to other cultures and people from all over the world. A place that I hope never loses any of these rare qualities.
Where else in the WORLD can a single mother with 5 kids living in Section 8 housing provide them access to nationally ranked schools, brand new swimming pools, beautifully landscaped bike paths with ponds, parks, tennis and bball courts. We didn't have a yard but it seemed all of Reston was our playground. I could even go to the "other side of Reston" and see my friends for a dime on the RIBS bus. We were exposed to theatre, arts, youth sports and a wonderful community of parents who took care not only of their own but looked out for ALL of us. I am so very grateful for Mr. Simon's vision. In any other "low income" environment, our lives could have turned out so differently. Even after we moved from Cedar Ridge to Lake Anne, it wasn't easy for my Mom to raise and take care of all of us but no matter where we were in Reston and how tight things may have been financially, our childhood was fun, full and rich. 
I grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Germantown was a mix of row houses and mansions, thus patch-work integrated even in the 1950's. I even belonged to the first integrated Boy Scout troop in Philly. Members of my patrol ranged from national merit scholars to (ahem) future clients of the state criminal justice system. The diversity worked. Brains when we needed brains, and muscle when called for. Although a relatively small troop, we won every contest. So when when my wife called me at work to say she found a house, and described the Reston concept to me I said, "Buy it now!" "Don't you want to see...." "No, just buy it!" Never regretted the decision. 
In 1978, my single mom moved her remaining 3 children from New York to a place called Reston. It was the best decision she ever made. We were pioneers in an amazing experiment that allowed all types of people to live and laugh and experience the best of everything life had to offer. It didn't matter if you were from a lower income family or one the fortunate people who had those beautiful homes on the lake, we were all treated with the same respect; we became friends; we got to experience the wonders of nature, culture and architecture and we were able to get a great education in a safe and nurturing environment. Everyone seemed to be responsible to everyone else's well being and we were so proud and cared deeply about the place we called home.
To grow up in a place of integration and tolerance, when interracial marriage was illegal, and religious 'blue laws' enforced. Reston was a bastion of equality of race, religion, et al. I truly feel lucky my parents moved there and I grew up with the experience of a true free and integrated (of all sorts) community. It definitely shaped the person I have become....
I grew up going to school with kids from a myriad of cultural, racial, economic and religious backgrounds. We were taught to acknowledge and appreciate all of our differences, but more importantly we were taught to see each other as humans and to treat one another with the same kindness and compassion regardless of our differences. Interracial couples were commonplace in my high school in the mid-80's. Religious holidays were shared with friends regardless of our own religious affiliations (or lack thereof) through a spirit of respectfully sharing our personal beliefs without the intention of conversion. And growing up with a wealth of nature around us we came to understand and appreciate just how precious our environment is and that it deserves not only our respect, but our protection. Being a community filled with people from all parts of the government from diplomats to congresspeople, federal clerks to federal lawyers, we came to know and understand the importance of political activism. Our community had soccer fields and theaters, nature paths and lakes, we grew up knowing there is more to a person than their profession, and that life is made all the more rich and fulfilling through a diversity of expression. So much of who I am and how I was formed was because I had the privilege of growing up in "A Place Called Reston". And I know so many of my peers share this deep appreciation for what a unique and truly magical place Reston was to live in. None of that would have happened had it not been for the vision of Robert E. Simon. I can only hope that one day all communities in America can share the same ideals that were, and still are, so integral to my hometown. Thank you, Bob. Rest in Peace.
A candlelight vigil in Simon's honor is scheduled for Friday at 6:45pm at Lake Anne Plaza.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Robert E. Simon Jr.: An Appreciation

"It’s difficult to overcome the culture that we live in. It’s a culture where a state-of-the-art bathroom and kitchen are what one needs, plus enough square footage to show everyone that one could afford it. We’ve gone a couple centuries without understanding community. It’s too bad that it’s so hard to communicate what pleasure one gets from living with one’s fellow human being."

It seemed like he would always be here. A cliche, but one made believable by his remarkable longevity — and his constant presence in Reston. We had a conversation with Mr. Simon just weeks ago, walking the paths not far from the Heron House and the nucleus of the community he created, returned to, continued to advocate for, and loved for more than a half-century.

And what a half-century it's been. Simon lived long enough to see the fulfillment of several dreams -- the creation of a true downtown, the arrival of Metro -- and the seeds of others, including the grand plans for a revitalization of his beloved Lake Anne Plaza that, if done properly, will be worthy of his legacy. As we've said many times before, he was a model for aging in place -- and aging gracefully in a community that remains vibrant, multigenerational, and even more diverse than when it stood out among the segregated suburban neighborhoods of mid-1960s Northern Virginia. All in all, not a bad deal for Carnegie Hall in trade.

When we last saw Simon, he said what he's always said in recent years: "I'm healthy." He leaves behind a community that, while facing growing pains, is unmistakably that. Thank you, Mr. Simon, for creating a place worth caring about, now and for the next century to come.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Only in Reston: Fundraiser For Retiring Reston Trash Owner

It's not any old place that raises money when the garbage collector retires, but Reston isn't any old place. Nor is Reston Trash, a locally owned business that was loved by many of its South Reston customers -- and how many people can say that about their garbagemen? -- an ordinary trash collector.

John Hasle, who owned and operated Reston Trash for more than 40 years, is retiring for health reasons. Not since the closing of another, slightly less local business has Restonian World Headquarters been besieged by so many urgent communiques, and Elizabeth Vandenburg, who once hitched a ride on Hasle's truck for a story she wrote for Patch, has set up a fundraising site for Hasle. 

As of this afternoon, Hasle's GoFundMe site has raised more than $400 of its goal of $1,000.

"It has been a privilege and a pleasure to provide service to so many customers and friends for the last 42 years," Hasle wrote in a letter to customers. "Thank you all for your loyal patronage and support."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Flashback Monday: The Godless Early Days of Lake Anne

When people started moving to the woods to the east of Herndon in the 1960s, people must have thought these crazy New Towners were some sort of godless heathens. An integrated community? Townhouses that weren't in towns? What was next? Species-neutral "pethouses" where dogs and cats could cohabitate?

Here we see an early picture of Lake Anne Plaza, before the civilizing influence of religion had its way. Another church had already been built nearby, but at this point, the plaza itself was still completely secular. After the new church dominated the plaza, no one would think about any sort of inappropriate behavior within the shadow of its brutalist non-steeple steeple. Oh, wait.

What is today the Washington Plaza Church has developed a reputation for being an open, affirming community church over the decades. In fact, it remains the only baptist church we've seen with a rainbow flag on its sign. But we don't get out much, the end.