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Jan
6

George Washington Birthday Celebration!

George and Ben – photo by James Cullum for the Zebra.

Northern Virginia is fortunate to be home to George Washington, Revolutionary War hero and the first President of the United States, among so many other noteworthy accomplishments.  The City of Alexandria and Fairfax County host annual events throughout the month of February celebrating George Washington’s birthday.  Every year the events change and new activities are added.  The schedule of events for 2020 is below.

Alexandria Celebrates Washington’s Birthday throughout February!

 “Cherry Challenge”:  A competition among the finer restaurants in Alexandria. Each restaurant develops its own cherry cocktail, appetizer, entrée, and/or dessert, in honor of our distinguished native son, of course! The competing restaurants and their entries will be listed on the website and the winners will be announced on Parade Day.
Dates: January 26 through February 9, 2020.  For more information, go to: www.washingtonbirthday.net

“Walking with Washington”:  Did you know that there are over 140 places in Alexandria that are associated with George Washington? This tour is designed to show you some of them and expand your knowledge of Washington and Alexandria, his home town. Date: Every Sunday in February (2, 9, 16, 23).  Ticket Price: Free! Advance reservations not required. Time: 2 p.m. (tour lasts about ninety minutes).   Location: Meet at the Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King St, Alexandria 22314.  Status: For status information go to www.washingtonbirthday.net or call (703) 829-6640.

Birthnight Banquet & Ball:  You are invited to the re-creation of this famous celebration of Washington’s Birthday set in the year 1799. The evening includes an 18th-century banquet, English country dancing, dessert collation, character re-enactors, and General and Mrs. George Washington. Period costume optional; “after-five” attire encouraged.  To attend the Ball only, please arrive at 9 p.m.

Date: Saturday, February 15, 2020.  Time: 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.   Location: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal St.  Ticket Price: Tiered pricing for this event. Advance reservations required.  To purchase tickets, go to: www.alexandriava.gov/shop.  Site Contact: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, telephone (703) 746-4242.  For information go to www.washingtonbirthday.net or call (703) 829-6640.

Alexandria George Washington Birthday Celebration Schedule for 2020

Revolutionary War Reenactment at Fort Ward Park.  Historic camp and tactical demonstrations throughout the day including a Revolutionary War skirmish between the Redcoats and the Colonial Army at 2 p.m.  Date: Sunday, February 16, 2020; Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Location: Fort Ward Park, 4301 W. Braddock Road.  Ticket Price: Free. Registration is not required.  Site Contact: Fort Ward Museum; telephone (703) 838-4848.  For more information: www.washingtonbirthday.net  or call (703) 829-6640.

Parade Day!

Monday February 17, 2020

Breakfast & Meeting of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association  

Meet special guests and enjoy a hearty breakfast with members of this historic association.  Time: 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  Ticket Price: $40.  For more information and to purchase tickets, go to: http://www.friendshipfireco.org.  Speaker: To be Announced.  Location: the Alexandrian Hotel (formerly the Hotel Monaco) 480 King Street, Alexandria 22314.  For status go to www.washingtonbirthday.net or call (703) 829-6640.

Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution.  Organized by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. Colonial military and civilians honor the soldiers of the Revolution.  Time: 11:00 a.m. to Noon. Ticket Price: Free.  Location: Old Presbyterian Meeting House, 321 So. Fairfax Street, Alexandria.  Status: For status go to
www.washingtonbirthday.net/status or call (703) 829-6640.

Armed Forces Community Covenant Ceremony.  Join us as we honor our Nation’s Veterans, Active Military, and their families with music, games and activities for children, military vehicles, demonstrations, informational booths and displays.  Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ticket Price: Free.  Location: Parade Reviewing Stand at Market Square (King & Royal Streets).  Status: For status information go to www.washingtonbirthday.net or call (703) 829-6640.  For information go to www.washingtonbirthday.net.

George Washington Birthday Parade 

February 17, 2020

The largest parade in the USA that celebrates Washington’s Birthday – in his chosen hometown! Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Location: Old T
own Alexandria.  Grand Marshal: To be announced. 
For status go to www.washingtonbirthday.net or call (703) 829-6640.

On PARADE DAY, PARKING is FREE at the parking lots adjacent to the Eisenhower Avenue Metro Station.  From there, a FREE DASH shuttle bus will take you downtown and back from 11 A.M. TO 4 P.M. The free KING STREET TROLLEY service will also be in operation all day until 11 p.m. from King Street Metro Station going east and west along King Street. For DASH service to other events, call (703) 746-3274 or go to  http://www.dashbus.com.

Alexandria George Washington Birthday Celebration Schedule for 2020

Historic Alexandria sites “Open Houses”:  Admission is free to these sites on Parade Day in honor of the birthday of George Washington. For more information, please contact each individual site.

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.  134 North Royal Street, Alexandria. Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum – phone 703) 746-4242.

Friendship Firehouse Museum.  107 S. Alfred St., Alexandria. Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact: Friendship Firehouse Museum –
(phone (703) 838-3891.

The Lyceum.  201 S. Washington St.; Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Contact: The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum – phone (703) 838-4994.

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum.  105-107 S. Fairfax St.; Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Contact: Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, telephone (703) 746-3852.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Events Organized by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.  For information about the following events, please go to http://gwmemorial.org or contact Shawn Eyer, Director of Communications, via e-mail at seyer@gwmemorial.org.

Annual George Washington Symposium at 1:00 p.m., George Washington Symposium in the North Lodge Room. Speakers and program to be announced. Free.

Annual George Washington Birthday Gala. Attire: Formal (White Tie Optional.) Tickets $200, reservations required. Reception at 5:30 p.m., entertainment in the Memorial Theater at 6:45 p.m., Banquet in the Memorial’s Grand Masonic Hall at 7:30 p.m. The Presentation of the George Washington Memorial Award will take place during the banquet. Tickets for the Gala are $200, and may be purchased at website,  http://gwmemorial.org.

THE MOST UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ABOUT ANY CELEBRATION EVENT IS PUBLISHED ON www.washingtonbirthday.net by the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee.

The committee maintains a 24-hour phone line that will report any change of status or the cancellation of any event (in case of inclement weather, for instance). Call the EVENTS HOTLINE (703) 829-6640 at any time.

Mt. Vernon  February 17, 2020, 9 am – 5 pm

Celebrate the first president of the United States on the most exciting day of the year! Admission is free! Timed tickets for Mansion tours will be distributed upon entry. 

Witness a presidential tribute and a wreathlaying at the Washington’s Tomb. During the Official Observance Ceremony of George Washington’s Birthday, listen to remarks given by Doug Bradburn, president & CEO of Mount Vernon, as well as the Old Guard provide a gun salute to the first president.

Watch Continental soldiers of the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard conduct a marching drill, fire their guns, and charge at their enemy in an exciting military demonstration on the bowling green. After the smoke clears, listen to the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play patriotic music.

Listen to the Washington family share stories about past celebrations of the General’s birthday, including the first public celebration and the gathering during the winter encampment at Valley Forge.

All day long, pose like George Washington in front of our life-sized version of Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne painting in the Education Center Lobby.

Jan
6

Northern Virginia’s Newest Corporate Resident, Amazon, Commits To Address Climate Change

Amazon to become net zero carbon by 2040

Amazon, which is building an east coast headquarters in Arlington, announced its commitment to fight climate change by committing to meet the Paris Agreement goals 10 years early.  In September, Amazon became the first signatory of this pledge. The Climate Pledge calls on signatories to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Accord’s goal of 2050. 

  • Companies that sign The Climate Pledge agree to:
  • Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis;
  • Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations, including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions, and other carbon emission elimination strategies;
  • Neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially-beneficial offsets to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue—we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon—which delivers more than 10 billion items a year—can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can. I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments.”

“Bold steps by big companies will make a huge difference in the development of new technologies and industries to support a low carbon economy,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s former climate change chief and founding

Amazon today announced that its largest wind farm yet—Amazon Wind Farm Texas—is now up and running, adding more than 1,000,000 MWh of clean energy to the grid each year. Amazon has launched 18 wind and solar projects across the U.S., with over 35 more to come. Together, these projects will generate enough clean energy to power over 330,000 homes annually. These projects also support hundreds of jobs and provide tens of millions of dollars of investment in local communities across the country. Photographed Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Snyder, Texas.(JORDAN STEAD / Amazon)

partner of Global Optimism. “With this step, Amazon also helps many other companies to accelerate their own decarbonization. If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge. We are excited to have others join.”

100,000 Electric Delivery Vehicles by 2030

By joining The Climate Pledge and agreeing to decarbonize on a faster time horizon, signatories will play a critical role in stimulating investment in the development of low carbon products and services that will be required to help companies meet the pledge. Amazon’s previously announced investment in Rivian is an example of this. Rivian is a producer of emissions-free electric vehicles with its headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan and a manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. Rivian is also contracting with Ford Motor Company to design and build an electric version of its best-selling F-150.  The $440 million Amazon investment will accelerate the production of electric vehicles critical to reducing emissions from transportation. To further advance this goal, Amazon today announced the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021. Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030 – saving 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.

The announcement is the first major commitment for electric delivery vehicles in the U.S. Analysts say their adoption could represent a watershed moment for electrified transport because large orders would build economies of scale for automakers and force utilities to learn how to manage fleets of
electric vehicles.

The announcement from the world’s largest retailer comes as environmental activists raise concerns about the climate and waste impacts of its fast-growing delivery network. As part of its plan, Amazon will also increase its renewable energy usage from 40 percent to 100 percent by 2030 and contribute $100 million to The Nature Conservancy to restore forests and other wild lands.

Jan
6

Traveling Back In Time, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Story and photos by Jim Schlett

There is no doubt that travel and leisure time is a critical part of life that most of today’s population enjoys so much.  After leaving the US Postal Service as the Director of Administration for the Law Department in 2011, I had decided to “refocus” back to my love of photography and travel.   Since 2016, as part of that focus, I am very fortunate to have been selected as the Artist in Resident (AIR) at 8 different National Park Service (NPS) locations in a very competitve process.  As 2019 was coming to a close, I had made the last trip out west to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, a NPS site that straddles both Montana and Wyoming.

The autumn weather of October was a great time to explore the beauty and history of this park and we even had a few days of light snow and strong Wyoming winds.  As with my other AIR experiences, it really is amazing the “connections” you make with people, and the history of America.   In a sense, it is so true that “we are all connected”!  On one of our first days there, we had been given a copy of a history report about Bighorn Canyon from 1975 that was written by Edwin C. Bearss.   Prior to this trip, I had been lucky to hear several of Mr. Bearss’ talks on the Civil War in the northern Virginia area, but was not aware of his connection to Bighorn Canyon.  He was born and raised in Montana, is a Marine Corp veteran from WWII and started his career in the National Park Service in 1955 at the Vicksburg National Military Park.  He is now in his late 90s and still gives talks and tours today that are legendary about American history at many Civil War battlefields.

The Bighorn Canyon area encompasses over 120,000 acres and was created by the construction of a dam on the Montana side of the park, which took 6 years to complete and named for Robert Yellowtail, chairman of the Crow Indian Nation in the 1960s.   The beauty of this area is stunning with great vistas, river views, camping sites, ramps for boating and fishing and a timeless sense of the thousands of years that went into the creation of the actual canyon.  Many of the other visitors that we encountered had similar thoughts about their experiences, along the lines of this is like, “a second Grand Canyon”. The views of looking down into the river and lake from the upper part of the canyon are breath-taking.  Just as impressive are the views while on a boat gazing up at the walls of the canyon from the bottom of the river.   It is hard to imagine just how much time it took to create this rugged and hauntingly beautiful landscape.  There is also an abundance of wildlife including, bear, bighorn sheep, deer and wild horses found throughout the park.

In addition to 17 miles of trails at the park, there are several historic ranches and a small town, Hillsboro, that are still preserved to give visitors an idea of what challenges the early pioneers must have faced in attempts to homestead.  One of the more fascinating ranches belonged to Caroline Lockhart, a reporter for newspapers including the Boston Post and an author of several novels.  She managed one of the largest ranches in this part of the Montana/Wyoming area. She purchased her initial acreage in 1926 in a very remote area and it eventually grew to over 6,000 acres.  With the original buildings, she added on a number of out-buildings, including a blacksmith shop, storage areas, corrals and fences.  Most of the buildings are still there with few alterations and can be easily visited which gives an in-depth glimpse into her life as the “Queen
of Cattle.”

There are also many great outdoor activities to see and experience within a few hours drive from Bighorn Canyon.  Some of the places we journeyed to included the Bighorn Mountains, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Yellowstone National Park, the towns of Cody (Buffalo Bill’s Hometown and site of several great museums) and Thermopolis, where one of the largest hot springs in the world is located.

As with my other AIR projects, the time literally flew by and the 2 weeks passed in a flash and I photographed many subjects from sunrise to sunset and created well over 1,000 new images, as well as making many new connections and friends.   To see more of my photographs from Artist-In-Residencies, please check out my web site  https://photomanva.zenfolio.com/p570512401.

Jan
6

METRO To Close Three Orange Line Stations For Summer Of 2020

WMATA, photo by Larry Levine.

Metro’s Platform Improvement Project is moving to the western side of the Orange Line next summer with plans to rebuild the deteriorating platforms at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, and East Falls Church stations and advance major infrastructure work along the 7-mile rail segment.

While full service information will be announced in March, Metro is advising customers today that three stations will be closed between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2020:

  • Vienna
  • Dunn Loring
  • East Falls Church

West Falls Church Station will remain open during the project, because it is equipped with two platforms that can be reconstructed one at a time. The station will become the western terminus of the Orange Line during the summer months. Orange Line service will operate less frequently than normal from the station.

East Falls Church Station will be closed to customers; however, Orange and Silver line trains will be permitted to pass through the station using a single track through the work area. This will allow Silver Line stations from McLean to Wiehle-Reston East to remain open, but with reduced service.

Metro will again partner with local jurisdictions and transportation agencies to develop alternative travel options, including free shuttle buses and other mitigation plans. Specific travel alternatives and rail service details will be announced in early March along with extensive public outreach efforts to maximize awareness of the project and its impacts.

In order to be more cost effective, four Green/Yellow stations that had been considered for platform reconstruction next summer will be rescheduled to a later phase of the project.

Project Overview

Metro completed the first phase of the Platform Improvement Project in 2019, with six stations successfully reconstructed on the Blue and Yellow lines in Virginia. With all service closed south of Reagan National Airport during the summer, Metro provided shuttle bus service that successfully provided 26,000 trips per weekday. The stations reopened on time in September, and work continued with minimal customer impact through the end of the year.

Metro will follow a similar construction strategy used for the first phase of the Platform Improvement Project. Due to the heavy construction nature of this project, tracks are taken out of service to allow for demolition of existing structures, access to the construction area and other essential infrastructure work. By utilizing an extended shutdown during summer months, Metro can provide contractors with 24-hour access to the work sites. This approach improves safety while significantly reducing project duration as workers do not have to repeatedly set-up and break down equipment.

As the station platforms are reconstructed, Metro will use the time to make improvements that enhance customer experience with a higher level of safety, accessibility and convenience. Key customer experience improvements include new slip-resistant tiles, brighter energy-efficient LED lighting, larger digital display screens, new stainless-steel platform shelters with charging ports and new surveillance systems.

Following Summer 2020, the remaining 10 stations scheduled for platform reconstruction are: Addison Road, Arlington Cemetery, Cheverly, College Park-U of Md, Greenbelt, Landover, New Carrollton, Prince George’s Plaza, Reagan National Airport and West Hyattsville.

Metro’s Capital Program

Metro is investing in system safety, reliability and the region’s economy through its 10-year, $15 billion capital program. For the first time in Metro’s history, the capital program is bolstered by dedicated funding from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The capital program will improve the customer experience and keep the region’s infrastructure in a state of good repair by investing in new railcars and buses, improving stations and platforms, upgrading fire-suppression and emergency response systems, replacing and repairing tracks, tunnels, bridges, signals, and communications systems, rebuilding decades-old bus garages and providing modern customer amenities such as passenger information systems. In spending local taxpayer dollars for capital projects, Metro is seeking to reinvest in our hometown economy, creating jobs and encouraging participation from disadvantaged, minority-owned, and small businesses in the region.

Jan
6

The Rise Of Super Commuting

A “super commuter” is someone who spends at least 90 minutes commuting each way and is not limited to those traveling great distances. A super commute can include driving, using public transportation, ridesharing or a combination as a route to work.

In rural America, super commuters are typically required to travel far distances for certain occupations, traveling 90 minutes or more to an out-of-the-way work site. In urban areas, super commuters may not be traveling a great distance in miles, but traffic congestion often amounts to a 90-minute commute each way.  Apartmentlist.com compiled data and the results are striking –  the number of super commuters has grown by 23 percent from 2005.

Map of Super Commuters. Source: Census American Community Survey 2017 5-year estimates. Apartment List calculations.

For those in the DC metro- good news! Commuters who currently drive alone to work may reduce their time spent commuting by forming a carpool and using the HOV Lanes. Plus, carpools with the requisite number of passengers ride free on all Express Lanes in Northern Virginia. Even more good news; new carpoolers are eligible for a cash payment through ‘Pool Rewards when they start or join a new carpool! If eligible, each carpool member can earn $2 per day ($1 each way) for each day they carpool to work over a consecutive 90-day period. The current carpool incentive allows each one-time new participating carpooler to earn up to $130 over a 90-day period through a trip-tracking process. Start or join a vanpool and earn up to $200 every month, when you sign up for ‘POOL REWARDS. It pays to rideshare! Sign up for ‘Pool Rewards today to start earning cash. Visit https://tdm.commuterconnections.org/mwcog/,  it’s free to join.

Super commuting by public transit

As we’ve noted before, super commuters are highly concentrated on the peripheries of the nation’s supply-constrained coastal hubs, with the San Francisco and New York City regions serving as prime examples. As technology, finance, and other industries continue to cluster in these job markets, a lack of new housing supply has driven up prices. As a result, workers are pushed further and further from the urban core in the search for more affordable housing options.

In San Joaquin County, 8.8 percent of workers identify as super commuters, compared to the national average of 2.9 percent. The majority of these workers are likely traveling more than 75 miles to downtown San Francisco. Pike County, PA, which sits on the far outskirts of the New York City metro, has the nation’s highest super commuter share, with a staggering 17 percent of the workforce commuting 90 minutes or more each way.

However, in contrast to the two examples just mentioned, the county-level data for New York also shows that super commutes are not limited to those traveling great distances. Richmond County, NY — better known as Staten Island — sits a short distance from Manhattan but has the nation’s fifth highest super commuter share at 14.3 percent. These commuters are likely getting to work via time-consuming public transit options, in which a single trip might include traveling by bus, ferry, subway, and foot. While Staten Island is the furthest removed from Manhattan, we observe elevated levels of super commuting in each of New York City’s outer boroughs.

In fact, we find that workers who rely on public transit are most likely to be super commuters, by a wide margin. Among those who get to work by public transit, 14.0 percent are super commuters, compared to just 2.4 percent of those who travel to work by car. Transit use is also disproportionately common among those at the low end of the income distribution, indicating that relying on public transit is more often a matter of necessity than of choice. That said, living car-free is one of the single most effective ways for an individual to reduce their carbon footprint. The high rate of super commuting among transit users speaks to the need for investment in robust transit options in order to grow our cities in inclusive and sustainable ways. 

Conclusion

While the prospect of a three hour daily commute may seem like a burden that few would be willing to bear, we find that such arrangements have grown increasingly commonplace in recent years. This trend is often attributed to workers in superstar cities being priced out to far flung exurbs, a pattern that can certainly be observed in the map above. However, we also find that super commuting is common in areas closer to the urban core, where workers who rely on public transit may face rides of 90 minutes or more, even if they’re not traveling great distances in terms of mileage. Super commuting hot spots also show up in pockets of rural America, where blue collar workers in select occupations commute far distances to remote job sites. Explore the map above to unearth super commuting patterns in your area and around the country.

This content is sponsored by Commuter Connections- ‘Pool Rewards Program and research and summary by Apartment List.