(ARLINGTON, VA): The Lee Highway Alliance (LHA) Board has unanimously voted to rename itself the Langston Boulevard Alliance (LBA), following the change in the name of the roadway itself that was approved by the Arlington County Board on July 17, 2021.
The renaming of both the Alliance and Lee Highway comes after nearly one year of community outreach, discussions, name vetting, and planning led by LBA's Working Group. LBA is proud to bear the name of John Mercer Langston, the American abolitionist who became Virginia's first Black Congressman in 1888, established Howard University's School of Law and served as its Dean in the 1870s, and was the Inspector General of Arlington's Freedman's Bureau in the 1860s.
LBA is also thrilled to bear the word "Boulevard" rather than "Highway," which connotes traffic, speed, and congestion, especially during rush hours. The word "Boulevard" describes LBA’s vision for a thriving corridor that safely welcomes pedestrians and is surrounded by relevant stores, restaurants, and fun activities.
That vision was sparked and nurtured by LBA, a citizens’ initiative and non-profit that started in 2013 with the goal of creating a joint community vision for a walkable, sustainable, equitable, and attractive corridor – one that benefits both residents and businesses. "Over the past decade, we have engaged thousands of residents about what they want to see here," said Ginger Brown, Executive Director of LBA, "Renaming the corridor is a step towards realizing the vision."
Arlington County, meanwhile, has been engaged in the Plan Langston Boulevard planning process. LBA will continue working with the community and the County to develop a 30-year plan that helps to transform Langston Boulevard. This fall, the County will share its next proposals.
"Langston Boulevard has not been systematically planned in more than 60 years. A lot has changed since then – how we live and work, our changing recreation and retail needs, and the need to focus on climate change,” said Pamela Gillen, LBA's President, "Langston Boulevard has immense potential to be a place where residents and businesses thrive together, and where the environment is put first by insisting upfront on sustainable designs.”
"If we plan and create as a community, with a collective thought process, we'll have a much better place for everybody to live," added Ben Keeney, a Working Group member and resident of the North Highlands area. And that is exactly what LBA's goal throughout the past few years has been—community engagement and collaboration. As an example of said engagement and collaboration, Brown noted that LBA held 3 walking tours and numerous virtual meetings during the spring to review and discuss the County's proposals for changes in land use and building height, as well as to help participants visualize and share input on potential changes. More than 50 people attended one of the walking tours that started in the Lyon Village Shopping Center. "Traffic safety, stormwater management, impact of population growth, and building heights seem to be the biggest concerns of the community," Brown added, “LBA looks forward to the forthcoming analysis by the County and updated proposals in early fall 2021."
With the renaming and systematic planning of the corridor should come a new chapter in Langston Boulevard's story. "We're looking for the corridor to be a place where people in the community convene," shared Saundra Green, Working Group member and Hall's Hill/High View Park resident, "We want a place that stands for all the things that we want the corridor to be, for children to senior citizens."
In the meantime, LBA is planning a celebration this fall where it will bring the community together to celebrate the renaming through the arts, activities, and mural-making. To stay up to date with Langston Boulevard Alliance news, community members can sign up to receive newsletter alerts.
Ginger Brown, Executive Director
Maia Potok-Holmes, Communications Manager
a working group made up of Lee Highway residents, business owners, and employees.
The County Board initially discussed the upcoming vote at its June 12 meeting but decided to take their final vote today, July 17, to allow for additional time to gather public feedback and more precise cost estimates. County Staff additionally put together a Staff Report for the renaming that can be read here.
LHA is thrilled to move forward with the name "Langston Boulevard." The word "Boulevard" better exemplifies a thriving, lively road that welcomes visitors and is surrounded by vibrant stores and restaurants. The words "John M. Langston" will help to tell the story of our County's troubled past while looking forward to a bright future. These words and their impacts represent the vision for the future of Lee Highway and the values of the Arlington community.
Dominion Electric Supply Company, Inc. in Arlington, has announced an experimental partnership project with artists in the Arlington community. Dominion has been a fixture in the DMV electrical and lighting market for over 80 years, and last year, launched their new residential lighting brand, Dominion Lighting.
“We’ve re-imagined our retail space and approach over the past year” notes Matt Rowan, Vice President, Residential Lighting. "As part of the redesign and rebrand, we intentionally created space in the new showroom to better serve and engage with our community. We're particularly excited about our new gallery wall that allows local artists to exhibit their work.”
For the inaugural exhibits, Dominion will display select pieces from Studio 10 Artists, a collaborative of five Arlington painters who create and celebrate community-based art. First up during April and May is Kat Jamieson, an Arlington-based watercolorist and metalsmith. Her mini-exhibition's theme is "Light Over Water," an outgrowth of the recent "Ambient Light" show mounted by Studio 10 Artists at Gallery Underground in Crystal City.
Rowan notes, “We're looking forward to this creative partnership and foresee even more opportunities to engage with the local art and design community. Folks can expect to see even more exciting community-centric offerings from Dominion in the upcoming year.”
Dominion Electric Supply Company & Dominion Lighting is located at 5053 Lee Highway in Arlington.
This last year has brought many struggles to our local businesses and community, but it also provided new opportunities. The Lee Harrison Shopping Center recently welcomed Salon dcb, a new local salon employing top notch stylists that hope to create the new “go-to salon in Arlington.”
LHA’s Communication Manager recently spoke with the Salon’s Owner, David Barnes, to welcome him to the corridor and ask him about all things Salon dcb.
DB: The first day of business at Lee Harrison was on January 18, 2021!
MPH: What led you to open the Salon along Lee Highway?
DB: I had actively been searching for a space for the past four years. The challenge, and the reason it took me so long to find the right space, was that I wanted a small space. Had I wanted a 1500 sq./ft. space I could have opened years ago. The problem with large spaces, however, is that you have to fill them with employees/renters. Instead, I wanted an approximately 800 sq/ft. space to create a quiet, calm, and intimate space where I could focus on providing the best possible service for my guests with only one additional stylist onboard - I’ve done the big staff and studio thing before but I was no longer interested in that. I also wanted a store-front location as opposed to going into a salon suite.
I’ve had many discussions with landlords in Arlington and the Del Ray area of Alexandria over the past four years and even spent six months negotiating for a space close by, but the landlord pulled out at the last moment. When I found the Lee Harrison space it felt like fate!
MPH: How many people work at the Salon?
DB: The staff consists of me, Sara, my assistant of 10 years, Renu, and a part-time shampoo tech.
MPH: How do you ensure safety for your employees and guests during this time?
DB: As per county and CDC recommendations, masks must be worn at all times by guests and employees while in the salon. High-touch surfaces are wiped down after each appointment with a hospital grade disinfectant. Hand sanitizer and hand washing is an ever-constant part of our lives now as well. Additionally, because the salon is only 800 sq./ft., it cannot accommodate more than seven people at a time. Guests find it reassuring and are more comfortable to be in a space with fewer people.
MPH: COVID-19 has been so tough for small businesses. Has the pandemic impacted your opening and operation?
DB: I opened a business in the middle of a world-wide pandemic when small independent businesses are closing on a daily basis in record numbers. I opened in the dead of winter - January and February are traditionally the two slowest months even in the best of times. Foot traffic is down because of COVID and the cold weather. Women in record numbers are growing out their color and receiving fewer salon services. Business in 2020 was down 25% from 2019. I have guests that were with me for 15+ years that were in every 5 weeks for a cut and color who I haven’t seen for a year now. And then there is the normal attrition of guests moving out of the area.Luckily, however, it only took a few extra weeks for the building permit to be issued for the Salon. I was concerned early on about delays in getting equipment as factories here and abroad shut down, but thankfully everything was delivered well before opening. I just keep reminding myself that when one door closes, another opens!
MPH: What is the best way the community can support you and help the salon thrive during these challenging times?
NOLAS, which is salon spelled backward. Clients kept asking who Nola was? When I sold that salon, the trademarked name conveyed. When I opened at the Halstead, I rebranded to Salon dcb. While renting a chair the past seven years, I was Salon dcb in Exile. And now I’m back to Salon dcb.
MPH: How long have you been a stylist and what led you to choose this profession?
DB: Long story. My father, two of my uncles, and one of my great-uncles owned their own barber shops. Given that, I never had the desire to go into ‘the business’ growing up. It was not until after graduating high school that I decided to go to cosmetology school. I had a good friend at the time who was a stylist and attending a week-long training session. I would hang out with him and the out-of-town trainers in the evenings at their hotel and they would always get together in one of their rooms, cut hair, and talk about the different trainings they did around the country. Traveling and educating seemed, at the time, to be so glamorous so I thought I would give it a try. I had no clue as to whether I had one ounce of talent or not. I ended up being an educator for Matrix and then Redken for ten years. During that time, I conducted seminars and educational classes up and down the east coast and even as far away as Alaska. Until COVID, I was a Color Specialist for Paul Mitchell the School in Tysons Corner for fourteen years. I love educating and being able to share my knowledge and experiences to help others grow and become successful in this field. I moved to Arlington in the 80s and opened my first salon, NOLAS, at Arlington Courthouse Metro in 1992. People are always amazed when they learn how long I have been doing hair. It’s gotten to the point where I now do the hair of the young adult children of clients who were not even pregnant at the time I started working with them. What I may lack now in youthful enthusiasm, I more than make up for with God-given talent, experience, and a passion for my craft.
MPH: That’s amazing! Clearly this is something you’re very passionate about. What do you hope for the future of the Salon?
salon professionals. Because of our location and the neighborhood’s demographic, I plan for us to be very successful and in high demand. My goal is to be the go-to salon in Arlington for beautiful, believable, and healthy-looking hair.
MPH: Well, we wish you nothing but the best, David. Good luck and thank you so much for chatting with me.
DB: My pleasure, Maia.
and the toll of COVID-19 on the Hospital to appointment cancellations and what the public can expect in the coming months.
Ginger Brown: Adrian, thank you so much for agreeing to speak with us. I know our community will greatly value hearing what you have to say.
Adrian Stanton: It’s absolutely my pleasure Ginger, thanks for inviting me to chat.
GB: Let’s get right into it. We all know what a hot topic vaccination is. Where is VHC in the vaccination process and what has that process looked like?
AS: In Virginia, vaccine distribution facilities had to submit a request for vaccine doses each week. We felt we could easily distribute 3,000 a week, so that’s what we would request, however we were only receiving about 1,800-2,000 a week. When vaccines started arriving, the most important thing to us was to make sure all our staff on the front lines got the vaccine first. Folks in the hospital not seeing patients came second. In January, Arlington announced that the County was moving from Phase 1a to 1b and we (VHC) were asked to adjust our vaccination process to allow for individuals in 1b to be seen. Every County is different in how they partnered with hospitals, but in Arlington we agreed to focus on healthcare workers and the way it needs to be stored, individuals aged 75+. To prepare for higher
stay at the vaccination site for 15 minutes to monitor for any potential side effects (similar to the Flu Shot) and then they were free to go. It was a very efficient and successful process.
GB: Many in the community have likely heard about the cancellations of vaccine appointments that occurred a few weeks ago. What happened? What caused the Hospital to have to make that decision?
AS: Early on in the vaccination process, we made the decision to ensure that everyone who got a first dose would get a second dose – this decision has been widely supported by healthcare professionals. But one Wednesday evening in mid-January, we were notified by the Virginia Department of Health that we would not be receiving a shipment of vaccines for the following week. This put us in an incredibly tough bind – we had folks scheduled for appointments through March and we had to cancel about 10,000 appointments. It was awful. But the appointments we cancelled were first doses. Everyone who already had a first dose and was scheduled for their second dose retained their appointments. We wanted to honor that decision we had made all those months ago. Next week will mark the end of those vaccination appointments (second doses). We have, however, shared with the County the list of residents whose appointments were cancelled and they are working through the process of connecting with those individuals and rescheduling their appointments. All future vaccines will go through the County Health Department who will then decide how the vaccines will be distributed based on guidance by the Virginia Department of Health.
GB: How did people react when their appointments were cancelled?
just VHC that had to do cancellations – INOVA and Fairfax did as well. It was also heartbreaking for our staff who were involved in the vaccination effort – there was a level of pride they had in doing this. But we understand why the state had to do it.
GB: Why do you think the state stopped providing doses?
AS: To my understanding, we stopped receiving doses for two reasons: 1. The Commonwealth had been distributing doses based on how much each vaccination center was asking for and then using. As far as I know, Northern Virginia was using all the doses they received, but other areas of the state were not. 2. I think, because Virginia was not vaccinating as quickly as it wanted to, the state government, for obvious reasons, wanted to make improvements to the rollout plan. Governor Northam moved to increase the number of people who fell in Phases 1a and 1b, which meant more vaccines needed to be distributed across the state to meet this expanded phasing. The state shifted to a new system that would distribute vaccines not based on who’s using it but based on population. Vaccines started to be shipped to County Public Health offices instead of hospitals or other distribution centers. So, instead of places like VHC vaccinating the public, Arlington County is now leading the charge. We do, however, have an agreement with the County and have made sure that they know that if they need our help, we’re ready to jump back in and restart our efforts around vaccination right away.
GB: What vaccine was VHC distributing?
to give Moderna to the centers who didn’t have those refrigerators. Because we could store it, most of what we got was Pfizer.
GB: We all know how bad the spike in cases was over the last few months. What is the current status of COVID at the hospital?
AS: Right now, things are good. Coming out of the holidays was a different story though. About 2 weeks post-Thanksgiving, numbers started to inflate like crazy. And then we tagged onto that the winter holidays and New Years. We saw an increase in numbers that were very close, if not equal, to the worst part of COVID-19, which, in this area, was last May. The difference this time around, however, was that the hospital is generally much busier in the winter months because of the flu. The “good news” in May was that the hospital had capacity to care for all the patients. What made the recent spike so difficult was how full the hospital already was. The positivity rate - the number of individuals who get COVID tests and test positive - was also incredibly high. If that number gets close 10% on a consistent basis, that starts to concern us. Once we hit summer and early fall, the positivity rate went way down to 2-3%. Then we hit November and Thanksgiving and saw the rate creep up and up and eventually went well above 10%. However, now that we’re past the winter holidays, we’re seeing the number of COVID patients and the positivity rate go down, which is good news. We anticipate a small spike due to Super Bowl gatherings but hope it won’t be too bad. The common thread unfortunately is always people getting together, not adhering to masking or social distancing, not knowing the behavior of the people they’re gathering with – behaviors that might put them at risk. Unfortunately, we see a lot of cases where everyone in the group gets sick. But the good news right now is that numbers and positivity rate continue to go down.
GB: Are you seeing the new strains?
AS: Because I’m not a physician, I don’t really know the answer to that. What we do know is the UK version transmits much faster than the “regular” strain.
GB: Back tracking a bit…despite the vaccines being in such high demand, there are still a handful of people who are not yet convinced. Why do you believe the public can and should trust the vaccine?
AS: My sense is that there are people who are concerned about how quickly it came to market. I understand the concern, particularly when you look at the history – a vaccine could take 4 years to get to market and this happened in basically under 12 months. The difference, however, and the reason why I and so many others trust the vaccines is that despite the accelerated time frame, there was extensive testing and safety protocols in place to ensure the vaccines were safe. These vaccines are also incredibly effective. Even if they were only a little bit effective, they would still be worth getting. And now that we see the variant strains, vaccinations are even more important. Much like the flu, I feel very strongly that any opportunity that we have to protect those that we come in contact with, those we love, or ourselves, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to do that. And that’s why we have been such strong proponents of the vaccines.
GB: I also understand that another reason the vaccines were able to be developed so quickly was because scientists were already studying mRNA (messenger RNA) - the technology used by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines - for quite some time. Is it true that that already available information helped to shorten the time needed to develop those COVID vaccines?
AS: Yes, that is correct.
GB: Well, this all a whole lot of great information!
AS: (Laughs) Good!
GB: Is there anything else you think our readers should know?
AS: I think we will. If the question is when that will be, to be honest I have no idea, but we will get there. As good a system as we were able to develop in VHC, we still were not able to vaccinate as many people as the County needed. Even if we had gotten all the vaccines we asked for and could do 3,000-5,000 vaccinations a week, it would take forever to get through the whole Arlington community. From my perspective, you have to dramatically increase the supply and once that happens, move to a much different system of distribution. We need to be taking over a huge stadiums or parking lots, have the national guard help, and have people drive up and stick out an arm. You need that to get mass vaccinations happening every day, otherwise it’ll take years to vaccinate the entire population.
GB: Let’s hope we start getting enough vaccines to begin doing something like that!
AS: Well, there are signs right now that things will get better. It seems that this new administration’s first order of business is to increase the supply of vaccines quickly and then tackle distribution. It will also be helpful when other vaccine options get approved. Additionally, we’ve seen some states have great success with vaccinations, so we know it’s possible, we just have to follow their lead.
GB: Well, this has been wonderful Adrian. Thank you so much! I know this information will be greatly appreciated by our audience.
AS: Happy to do it!
Despite enduring COVID-19 shutdowns, Lebanese Taverna has spent the last 11 months working to ensure it can continue to serve its community. To learn about everything from daily operations and the best offerings from the Lebanese Taverna Market, to the restaurant's choice to help feed National Guard Troops protecting the United States Capitol, LHA's Communications Manager sat down with Grace Abi-Najm Shea, the business' Executive Vice President this week.
GS: The images of US troops lining up to protect our Capitol moved us to do what we do, take care of people. Taking care of people is what we do, and we thought, what better way to take care of these troops than through their stomachs?! We’ve been doing similar work throughout the pandemic for health care workers and saw an opportunity to take care of the men and women protecting our city and our country. We partnered with Micheline Mendelson from We, the Pizza which is located on Capitol Hill. That restaurant is the distribution point, so we meet those in charge there to hand off the food. We started off the first couple of days with Chicken Shawarma Salads - we were thinking of their health! Now we're making stews with rice and have included vegetarian options as well. We’ve provided over 1,000 meals so far.
thankfully we haven't had much of an impact there - but we've definitely had to get creative with our restaurants!
MPH: How are your employees doing?
GS: As you can imagine, it’s a challenging time. Restaurant kitchens do not have the luxury of social distancing, but we are doing everything we can to keep our team safe. We’ve been lucky so far and are grateful to our staff, most whom have been with us for over 15 years!
MPH: 15 years, that's amazing! How long has the restaurant been open?
slightly, you mentioned the Lebanese Taverna Market - what kinds of things does it have available for purchase?
GS: It’s a nice little mix of prepared food, international grocery, wines & beers, cheese, and gourmet chocolate. We like to support local business and you will often find things made right here in Arlington!
MPH: What is your favorite thing on the menu and favorite thing you sell at the market?
GS: That’s a tough one, but I'd say my favorite thing is Hummus. I eat a lot of it and I never get tired of it. I am also a chocoholic so Kingsbury caramels and truffles are my addiction!!
MPH: Looking forward...what do you envision for the future of Lebanese Taverna?
nowadays. How can the Arlington community best support Lebanese Taverna?
GS: We are so, so grateful for our Arlington community. We live and work in Arlington and our neighbors truly take care of us. We raised over $150,000 in August for those affected by the explosion in Lebanon and we are beyond thankful. I would say, keep doing what you’re doing Arlington, continue eating Hummus, tell your friends about us, and shop at the Lebanese Taverna Market!
MPH: We'll convey the message! Thanks so much Grace, and best of luck.
GS: Thanks Maia.
As we ready ourselves to say goodbye to 2020, Arlington Magazine has its eyes set on 2021. The Magazine released its "Best of Arlington 2021" list this week and highlighted Lee Highway restaurants and shops. Make sure to check out these spots in the new year, you won't be disappointed.
Arlington Magazine's Best of Arlington 2021:
or habañero also give the original a run for its money. The latter obviously turns up the heat. “Habañero will burn you down!” Michel says with a laugh. Bring it." –Rina Rapuano
Read more from Arlington Magazine here
delivery service, giving home cooks the opportunity to get in on bespoke crops ranging from artisanal lettuces and sunchokes to rare kinds of basil. Because the farm (being indoors) operates year-round, so does the CSA, which delivers to addresses throughout Northern Virginia and the District. Pierce also offers a la carte orders with curbside pickup and is currently in talks with his landlord about expanding his space. 'Sometimes the biggest opportunities come out of the biggest struggles,' he says. 'We hope this drives education around a more localized food system.'” –Jenny Sullivan
Read more from Arlington Magazine here
from scratch. The store also features many meats and cheeses imported from Italy and are very happy to accommodate any Italian product request.
"Best of Arlington 2021" Runners Up
With Hanukkah coming to a close and Christmas and Kwanzaa quickly approaching, now is the best time to pick up some last minute gifts while supporting Lee Highway businesses! Make sure to check out LHA's Holiday Gift Guide before heading out to do some holiday shopping.
What's new on the gift guide this week?
After 4 months of thoughtful discussion, public engagement, and communication with Lee Highway businesses, the Working Group On Renaming Lee Highway has selected its top choice and four alternatives for Lee Highway’s new name.
The Working Group’s preferred name is Mildred & Richard Loving Avenue, honoring the couple who fought for marriage equality for interracial couples.
national significance and it encompasses justice.”
The name “Mildred & Richard Loving Avenue” not only tells the story of triumph over injustice but offers the opportunity to connect the Lee Highway corridor with other regional jurisdictions in the state of Virginia. The Lovings not only lived in the state, but the name relates to the Virginia state slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” When travelers cross Key Bridge coming to Virginia from DC, they are met with the state slogan. It was the opinion of the Working Group that it made sense that the name “Loving” would be the first road traveled on in the state. The name also represents a desire of Arlington County for people to treat one another in a loving way.
polls, “Loving” was the clear front runner, garnering 1,146 votes of the 3,646 votes cast. All four Advisory Groups supported the name as well, suggesting it would provide the corridor with a sense of place, would support future branding endeavors, is an easy name to pronounce and spell, and tells a great story.
In addition to Mildred and Richard Loving Avenue, the Working Group supported four alternate name choices: John M. Langston Boulevard, Ella Baker Boulevard, Dr. Edward T. Morton Avenue, and Main Street.
John M. Langston was an American abolitionist, attorney, educator, activist, diplomat, and politician who was the first Black person elected to Congress from Virginia. His ties to Arlington date back to 1867 when he was the Inspector General of the Freedman's Bureau, the managing agency over Freedman's Village which was the contraband camp for formerly enslaved people in Arlington. Lee Highway also runs right past the old segregated John M Langston Elementary School.
[racial] history of Arlington County as well as the County’s brightest time - when the four students who went to Langston Elementary were the first four students to integrate the state of Virginia. The name tells the whole story of how Arlington has evolved and grown over the years.”
Ella Josephine Baker, also known as the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, was a native daughter of Virginia, born in Norfolk on December 13, 1903. She was a civil rights pioneer who championed the ordinary citizen. Her expert organizational skills were instrumental in the fight for racial equity and she mentored many emerging civil rights leaders, such as John Lewis.
Dr. Edward Morton, the first Black physician in North Arlington, was a powerful early voice for racial equality in the County, and specifically on Lee Highway. His home and medical practice were located at 4842 Lee Highway, the site that currently is the McDonald’s Restaurant. Dr. Morton was a leader in the Hall's Hill neighborhood, was a candidate for County Board in the 1930s, and promoted Black Empowerment.
The Lee Highway Alliance and Plan Lee Highway have been working to bring communities together through community-based grassroots planning, support of local businesses, and recognizing local history and identity through heritage-based education. The name “Main Street” represents the diversity that makes the 4.6 mile corridor unique.
The LHA board approved of the name choices on December 10 and will present the Working Group’s recommendations to the Arlington County Board next week. The County Board will then submit the recommendation to either the Commonwealth Transportation Board or the Virginia General Assemblyfor approval and implementation.
Thank you to the 25 dedicated members of the Working Group for their time and commitment to this process, to the Arlington County Board, and to the Arlington community for welcoming and participating in the renaming effort.
This holiday season may look different from other years, but it won't stop us from supporting our local economy and Lee Highway businesses by shopping local! Make sure to check out LHA's Holiday Gift Guide before heading out to do some holiday shopping.
What's new on the gift guide this week?