Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Aug
30

DATA’s 32nd Anniversary Celebration!

Photo by David Galen.

DATA welcomed Commonwealth of Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Hon. Shannon Valentine (inset photo ©David Galen), as keynote speaker at DATA’s 32nd Anniversary Celebration and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 24th at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel in Herndon.  The annual dinner event is one of only two fundraisers DATA holds each year to help support its mobility management efforts. 

DATA President John Martin served as emcee for the evening, introducing the elected officials in attendance and delivering opening remarks.  Helen Cuervo, District Engineer, Northern Virginia District of the Virginia Department of Transportation, introduced Secretary Valentine.  The Secretary shared the new administration’s vision for transportation in the Commonwealth, particularly as it relates to the challenges faced by businesses and citizens in the Dulles area. 

As always, a highlight of the evening was the presentation of DATA’s Awards.  This year’s honorees included:

J. Hamilton Lambert, recipient of the 16th Annual Dr. Sidney Steele Founder’s Award. Mr. Lambert is a former Fairfax County Executive and the current Executive Director ofthe Claude Moore Charitable Foundation.

James N. Larsen, recipient of the President’s Award. Jim is the former Executive Director and CEO of DATA and currently heads up the Commuter Services Bureau of Arlington County’s Department of Transportation.

Bob Evans and Kelley Westenhoff, recipients of the “DATAs.” Bob and Kelley provided key support to DATA’s Live More Commute Less: FOCUS! grant, aimed at establishing a bike-oriented community in Reston and at encouraging commuters to bike or walk the “last mile” from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station to their home or office.

Fairfax County employers who have received “Best Workplaces for Commuters” designation were recognized with a banner in the ballroom.

The program concluded with DATA Executive Director Doug Pickford thanking the event’s sponsors and providing brief remarks on the successes and future challenges for DATA. 

For more information on DATA, or to become a DATA member, please contact Director of Sales and  Marketing Kelly Woodward at kwoodward@datatrans.org.

Aug
30

Dulles Matters: Don’t Miss Dulles Day Festival and Plane Pull 2018

For more than 25 years, Washington Dulles International Airport has invited the community to a free, one-day open house to experience aviation up close and raise money for a good cause. This year, the Dulles Day Festival and Plane Pull 2018, benefitting Special Olympics Virginia, is on Saturday, September 15.

“We are extremely proud of the event that we’ve built over more than two decades as a partner to this community and in support of a great cause,” said Mike Stewart, Airport Manager for Dulles International Airport. “Special Olympics Virginia opens doors for athletes with intellectual disabilities to have their dreams fulfilled of competing in the sports they love. The support of the community and the donations raised through Dulles Day is vital to the ongoing success of Special Olympics.”

For newcomers to the event, you can start the day early with the first activity: a 5K and 10K Race on the Runway. Runners will trot over huge skid marks where aircraft wheels touch down each day on an airport runway, and take in unique views that are normally seen for just a few moments by airline passengers. There are only 2,500 runner slots available, so register early at www.potomacenmotive.com. 

Following the race at 10:30 a.m., the gates open to the airfield where a huge, free festival awaits all visitors. The signature event of the day is the Plane Pull, a friendly competition featuring teams of 25 people trying to pull a full-size jet aircraft – weighing 82 tons – the longest distance in the shortest time. Proceeds from this fund-raising activity benefit Special Olympics Virginia.

But guests don’t have to race or pull planes to enjoy the Dulles Day Festival and Plane Pull—there’s something fun for everyone. Children can flex their muscles in the Kids’ Truck Pull competition, and surrender to fun at kids’ play area with bounce houses and a dunk-a-cop tank. For aviation enthusiasts, there will be current and vintage aircraft on display, and a classic car show. Not to be left out, the Airports Authority Police, Fire and Rescue and Maintenance teams will also display the massive equipment that keeps the airport running smoothly. 

For those guests curious about the airport, there will be airfield tours aboard the famous Dulles Mobile Lounges and rides on Airports Authority Fire Trucks. And for the dog lover community, the Airports Authority Police Department K-9 team will give hourly demonstrations.  And for the foodies, several food and beverage vendors and food trucks will be on site offering a wide variety of options for all tastes.

The day-long, family-friendly event has free admission and free parking, and is accessible through the Silver Line Express. 

For more information about Dulles Day Festival and Plane Pull, visit planepull.com. 

Aug
30

Better Block Foundation – Changing Neighborhoods, Changing Lives

By Elizabeth Darak

Last month I attended the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) International Conference in Anaheim, CA and I was inspired by the opening presentation given by Jason Roberts. 

The ACT International Conference is the annual gathering of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) professionals attracting attendees from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Attendees include representatives from major employers, departments of transportation, municipalities, transportation management associations, metropolitan planning organizations, consultants, transit agencies, vendors, and other shared use mobility providers.

As I mentioned previously, Jason Roberts was the keynote speaker at the grand conference opening. He is an artist, civic activist, and urban designer whose life’s work has been dedicated to the creation of healthy, vibrant, and sustainable neighborhoods. In 2006, Jason formed the nonprofit organization, Oak Cliff Transit Authority, to revive the Dallas streetcar system, and later spearheaded the city’s effort in garnering a $23 million grant from the federal government to help reintroduce a modern streetcar system to Dallas.

In 2010, Jason organized a series of Better Block projects, taking blighted blocks with vacant properties in Dallas and converting them into temporary, walkable districts with pop-up businesses, bike lanes, cafe seating, and landscaping. 

The Better Block project started when a group of community organizers, neighbors, and property owners gathered together to revitalize a single commercial block in an underused neighborhood corridor. The group brought together all the resources from the community and converted the block into a walkable, bikeable neighborhood destination for people of all ages complete with bike lanes, cafe seating, trees, plants, pop-up businesses, and lighting. The project was developed to show the city how the block could be revived to improve area safety, health, and economics, if ordinances that restricted small business and multi-modal infrastructure were removed. 

Since then, The Better Block approach has been used in over two hundred cities around the world to illustrate rapid street changes and community revitalization. These cities have reported greater understanding and urgency by elected officials, leaders, and citizens for permanent change. Team Better Block’s work was featured in the 2012 Venice Biennale and has been spotlighted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Dwell Magazine.

Here are some example of Better Block projects.

East Grand Better Block – DES MOINES, IOWA 

The goal of East Grand Better Block was to envision a shared use trail that accommodated cyclists, skaters, joggers, people in wheelchairs, and other forms of non-motorized transportation. The community wanted to see East Grand as a place to come and stay, not just a place to get through.

Linwood Better Block – FORT WORTH, TX

Linwood Better Block demonstrated and implemented several, simple traffic calming and place-making elements in an area in transition, addressing safety and connectivity concerns from new and old residents asking for more attention.

Akron Better Block – AKRON, OH

Akron Better Block took place in the North Hill neighborhood on N. Main Street, a wide, intimidating four-lane thoroughfare that was created to quickly move cars from downtown to the suburbs. Better Block worked to reduce the scale of the street to allow for human activity and encouraged local entrepreneurs to test out their business ideas in the vacant storefronts for the weekend. The Akron Better Block team filled the gaps made by parking lots and demolished buildings by creating pedestrian plazas and fields for sports, yoga, and ping pong.  For one weekend at least, N. Main Street realized its potential as a thriving, economically viable block.

To see these Better Block projects, visit teambetterblock.com.

Aug
30

The Great Travelling Van Show Is Rolling Your Way!

It’s mobile.  It’s multi-purpose.  And we’re hoping it can motivate you to change your commute! 

DATA’s Great Travelling Van Show, a Dodge Caravan wrapped in colorful graphics, hit the road in June bringing information on vanpooling to commuters right at their home or office.  And with generous subsidies provided by DATA through a Vanpool!VA grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation – the first two months are totally free and there’s even a gas card included – there’s no better time to see if vanpooling is your “better way to work.” 

The idea for the GTVS came from DATA’s years-long effort to encourage Westfields International Corporate Center employees to form vanpools to help reduce congestion on roads leading to and from the 1,100 acre Class A Fairfax County business park.  And with the addition of residential and retail – including a 120,000 square-foot Wegmans – the need to reduce single occupant vehicle traffic has never been more pressing.  Over the next months, this information kiosk-on-wheels will  be visiting locations within Westfields as well as offices and residential communities throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties.

The van’s first stop was at The Aerospace Corporation where DATA’s Program Managers Liz Darak, Karla Nativi, and Sarah McGowan joined Enterprise representative Dayna Paszkiet in explaining the advantages of vanpooling.  Employees learned that when 4-15 co-workers share a ride, they can each save on gas, reduce out-of-pocket maintenance expenses, lower car insurance, and shorten their commute by taking toll-free advantage of HOV and Express Lanes.

Vanpoolers typically share driving responsibilities, reducing the individual stress of fighting traffic day-in, day-out.  Vans can be equipped with wi-fi, so riders can jump-start their workday…or, better yet, stream their favorite Netflix series! 

Depending on the length of your commute, vanpooling can save you hundreds of dollars each month, cutting commuting costs as much as 80%!

In the next few weeks, you’ll see The Great Travelling Van Show at businesses like Northwest Federal Credit Union in Herndon and Oracle’s Reston location.  Attending an outdoor fair or festival?  Look for the GTVS (pictured) and ask how vanpooling might improve your commute. 

If you think your employees or co-workers might benefit from learning more about vanpooling and the grant subsidies available right now, call DATA at 703.817.1307 and one of our Program Managers can help you schedule a visit from The Great Travelling Van Show.

There’s never been a better time to get moving.

Aug
30

The 2018 American Conservation Film Festival: Inspiring Change, Offering Solutions

Image from “The Rise of Vertical Farming.”

Do you recall the last time that you attended an event that left you spinning with inspiration–with so many useful ideas that you hardly knew which to act on first? Just a short drive away, a small organization uses the power of film to engage people in conservation and offers solutions that enable each of us to make a positive change for our environment.

You’ll find the festival, in its 16th year, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia–approximately 70 minutes from our nation’s capital. The American Conservation Film Festival presents contemporary films on a wide selection of conservation topics from varying perspectives from around the world. The films and filmmakers explore stories on wildlife and wild places, food and agriculture, cultural heritage, climate change, energy use and extraction, consumption and waste, and water quality among other issues affecting our planet and ourselves. 

The 2018 American Conservation Film Festival will be held October 12-14, with an encore of award-winning films October 19-21. In partnership with Shepherd University and the National Conservation Training Center, the festival will present 36 films selected from over 300 submissions from 44 countries. Each of the films is selected on the strength of its conservation message, storytelling, and visual impact. Awards are given in seven categories, recognizing the most skillfully produced, enlightening, and compelling films on a range of important issues. 

The theme of this year’s festival, “Solutions,” features films, speakers, and programming that offer festival-goers ways to become engaged in conservation. Special programming for 2018 includes discussions with filmmakers and conservation experts, demonstrations, food-tastings, and hands-on activities for children. 

The festival also offers a two-day Conservation Filmmaker Workshop which includes expert seminars on the craft of conservation filmmaking–covering everything from camera gear to distribution–with helpful insights for filmmakers and media producers of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels.

Admission to the festival is $55 for a full festival pass (both weekends) for adults; students and ages 18 and under are admitted free to all films as space allows. Tickets are also available for each weekend or specific film blocks.

Image from “The Devil We Know.”

Among the must-see films of the 2018 lineup, The Devil We Know unravels one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time. The film tells the story of a group of citizens in West Virginia who take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical called C8–now found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans – into the drinking water supply. The film, by Stephanie Soechtig and Jeremy Seifert, premiered at Sundance earlier this year.

The top honor of the festival, The Green Fire Award, is granted to The Serengeti Rules by filmmaker Nicholas Brown. The award is named in honor of Aldo Leopold and is given to the film that exhibits an extraordinary level of excellence in filmmaking, offering the audience a fresh perspective on their relationship with the environment. The Serengeti Rules shares the story of a band of young scientists and their time in the most remote and spectacular places on Earth. Driven by their insatiable curiosity about how nature works, they discover a single set of “rules” that govern all life.

Awards were also given to Enough White Teacups (Foreign Film Award), filmmaker Michelle Bauer; Walk on the Mountain (Student Film Award), filmmakers Luke Watkins, Onika Richards and Eddie Mostert of Ithaca College; Bird of Prey (Green Spark Award for highlighting Conservation Heroes), filmmaker Eric Liner; The Rise of Vertical Farming (Green Spark Award for highlighting a path to sustainability), filmmaker Geert Rozinga; Inventing Tomorrow (Green Spark Award for inspiring the next generation), filmmaker Laura Nix; and Wildlife and the Wall (Short Film Award), filmmaker Ben Masters.

“For people who care about the environment and pride themselves on getting news from the front lines, these films make a must-see list. This October we’ll be delivering investigative exposés, gorgeous nature films, and inspiring documentaries on unstoppable conservation heroes,” said American Conservation Film Festival Manager, Hilary Lo.

The full festival film lineup, trailer links, and tickets are available on the American Conservation Film Festival website at conservationfilmfest.org.  You’ll also find helpful information about visiting Shepherdstown and local accommodations. 

The American Conservation Film Festival also offers programs throughout the year, including the NextGen Capture Conservation Contest (for ages 18 and under), Conservation Video Summer Camp (for high school students), and Best of Fest screening events in Virginia and Maryland.

If you are ready to fill up on inspiration, put real solutions into action, and make a positive change, get your tickets for the 2018 American Conservation Film Festival today.