After some prodding from City Council member Kirk McPike, a couple of Alexandria crosswalks could get a Pride-themed makeover next year.
A presentation heading to the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 28 — somewhat overshadowed by the Zoning for Housing vote that evening — includes details on plans to install rainbow artwork at a couple of crosswalks along King Street.
Rainbow crossings represent the rainbow flag associated with the LGBTQ community. There were several options in consideration for the crosswalks, from painting between existing lines to a brick-style “streetprint.”
The LGBTQ+ Task Force and Human Rights Commission said they prefer the brick aesthetic. The Commission also suggested using the Progress Pride Flag colors — which includes light blue, pink and white stripes to represent trans and non-binary individuals and brown and black ones to represent People of Color.
The staff recommendation echoed the Commission’s recommendations: a Progress Pride flag in stamped brick style.
The new rainbow crosswalks could be coming to King Street at Fairfax Street and Royal Streets.
The presentation said the plan is to have the rainbow crosswalks installed by June 1, the start of Pride Month.
Photo via Cory Woodward/Unsplash
The City of Alexandria is kicking off Pride Month next weekend with an afternoon of everything from spoken word poetry to a “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
The 6th annual kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, June 3, from 2-5 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street).
“Collect Pride swag, enjoy music and food, make some art and get your face painted, pose for a Pride pic, and learn about LGBTQ+ inclusive services in Alexandria,” the city’s website said. “Free and confidential health services and vaccines available.”
The kick-off starts with a story hour hosted by a drag queen at 2 p.m., followed by spoken word at 3 p.m. and an improv workshop at 4 p.m.
#Pride Month is almost here. #SavetheDate for the City's Pride kick-off event. Join us for the celebration and learn about Alexandria's LGBTQ+ inclusive services. All are welcome to attend!
Date: June 3
Time: 2-5 p.m.
Location: Market Square
Details: https://t.co/bnwydvTWh1 pic.twitter.com/AUaBL1ptqr
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) May 24, 2023
A word of caution to those attending: the event has already attracted some negative attention, with some on social media calling event organizers “groomers.” Earlier this year there was some violence at a similar story hour event in Silver Spring, when a far-right group tried to force their way into the bookstore that was hosting it.
Photo via Sophie Emeny/Unsplash
A local organization that cares for the mental health of local LGBTQ teens is hosting its second annual Pride Prom — a prom event focused on making queer teens feel safe.
Safe Space NOVA is hosting Pride Prom at The Torpedo Factory (105 N Union Street) on June 16 from 7-11 p.m.
According to the website:
Pride Prom is an opportunity for gender-diverse and sexual minority high schoolers to attend a prom with pride, dress however they are most comfortable, and dance without fear with whomever they choose! Our LGBTQIA+ Student Ambassadors have selected New York State of Mind as their theme because nothing is more iconic than NYC Pride! From Broadway to Studio 54 to the Rockettes, it’s going to be gay-mazing!
Tickets to the prom are $40. Attendees may also purchase art from resident artists and invited artists during the event, with several opening their studios during the prom with a NYC theme.
The event will also include various door prizes, which can be donated by supporters through a registry.
Alexandria’s interim superintendent says that Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed new policies restricting transgender bathroom and pronoun use won’t be a distraction as the school system plans to continue its “gender-affirming policies.”
“We just want to make sure that we let our community know that we’re continuing our commitment to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students,” interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt told the School Board on Thursday night (September 22).
The Virginia Department of Education’s new policy adjustments go into effect on October 27, after the end of the 30-day public comment period.
While students are not required to wear gender-neutral clothes, the new rules state:
- School division employees must refer to students with the pronouns “appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record”
- “The appropriate participation” in school programs separated by sex
- Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms, and other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex
- Students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires
- Single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students
Kay-Wyatt said that the legislation will not be a distraction for the school system.
“This will not be a distraction from our priorities of the work for all of our kids,” Kay-Wyatt said. “And I’m going to say that again, because it seems that some comments were directed that we’re going to make this a priority and make everything else a distraction. We have our core priorities. We will continue to focus on making sure we do what’s best for all children.”
The revised legislation was announced earlier this week, and created a firestorm of criticism throughout Alexandria. Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted that the school system will uphold its existing policies regarding transgender students, and School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and Kay-Wyatt wrote a joint letter reaffirming the school system’s position.
“As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that we provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” the letter said.
Kay-Wyatt said that parents can reach out to their school administrations with questions, or email [email protected] for updates.
Today @ACPSk12 leadership provided an update to our community.
They will continue to implement existing policies that support our students, affirm their identity, protect their safety AND comply with the Code of Virginia.
I stand with ACPS and with the students they serve. pic.twitter.com/UT4mLvFUaU
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) September 19, 2022
In a letter to students, staff and families, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) said it will continue to “develop and implement gender-affirming policies for all ACPS students” despite new policies outlined by Governor Glenn Youngkin.
On Friday, Youngkin’s administration proposed new policies to restrict bathroom use and which pronouns transgender students can use. The new policies would restrict students to the bathrooms and locker rooms associated with the sex assigned at birth regardless of gender identity, NPR reported.
The letter, from interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt and School Board Chair Meagan Alderton, said ACPS’ policy of nondiscrimination has included recognized gender identity and gender expression as protected classes, a status that won’t change despite state policies.
“As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that w provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” the letter said.
Several School Board members took to social media to voice their support for the letter and condemnation for the proposed state policies.
Trans kids: We see you. You are safe with us. https://t.co/WlLooQuFMR
— Ashley Simpson Baird (@ASBforACPS) September 20, 2022
— Kelly Carmichael Booz (she/her) (@kellycbooz_acps) September 18, 2022
The new policies are part of a broader trend of anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced at a state level. The letter said the new policies proposed by Youngkin’s administration would “set the clock back” for civil rights in Alexandria.
Alexandria to Youngkin: Nope pic.twitter.com/nSbMb6idHD
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) September 19, 2022
Just got this message from the school about Youngkin's horrendous policy on trans students.
I'll be interested to hear more specifics about how exactly they plan on continuing to protect students if this policy gets enacted. pic.twitter.com/JvtMwCzOYk
— Becky Hammer (@beckyhammer) September 19, 2022
Alexandria will spend millions on emergency financial support programs, stormwater repair, childcare and dozens of other projects as part of its first portion of American Rescue Plan Act funding.
“Now the really hard work begins,” Mayor Justin Wilson said after Council’s unanimous passage of a plan Tuesday night. “I think this is an opportunity to make some transformational investments.”
The City received its first $29.8 million on May 17, and has to spend the total $59.6 million in funding by Dec. 31, 2024. Alexandria is getting substantial funding by being counted as both a city and county — along with 41 other cities across the country — and will get its second allotment in May 2022.
Federal funds will not directly go to individual businesses, but some are allocated toward the funding of business districts for trial street closures, ABC-licensed special events and public access parklets.
“Our thought was that direct assistance for businesses was best provided, and continues to be provided, through the federal government at scale,” Alexandria Economic Development Partnership CEO Stephanie Landrum told Council. “We are much better equipped as a community, and certainly as an economic development group to reach a wider swath of businesses than we ever have been. And so part of our challenge and responsibility is to make sure all of those businesses know about other programs not being provided by the city.”
The 30 projects include:
- $4 million for an Alexandria Community Access and Emergency Support program to determine which city services are eligible for residents, including emergency financial aid, rent assistance and child care
- $3.7 million in stormwater repairs at the Hoofs Run Culvert
- $3 million for a Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot, which will give $500 in gift cards to 150 poor families for 24 months
- $2.8 million for a Unified Early Childhood Workforce Stabilization Initiative to “support hundreds of childcare providers and early childhood educators, provide a safe and healthy learning environment for thousands of children, and help parents, especially women, get back to work.”
- $2.5 million for food security to ensure two years of continual free food distributions at hubs throughout the city
- $2 million for Alexandria Housing Development Corporation flex space to expand city services for the Arlandria neighborhood
- $1.9 million in flash flooding spot improvements throughout the city
- $1.1 million to scale up a workforce development pilot
- $800,000 to make permanent the closure of the 100 block of King Street
- $620,000 to fund the Out of School Time Program to help with learning loss associated with the pandemic
- $560,000 to the Alexandria Economic Development Authority fund commercial business districts for trial street closures, ABC-licensed special events and public access parklets
- $500,000 for Visit Alexandria marketing efforts
- $295,000 to fund two new Office of Historic Alexandria tourism experiences on the city’s history with civil rights and and the Duke Street Corridor
- $253,000 to increase services for LGBTQ and BIPOC communities
Virginia extends ‘cocktails-to-go’ laws for another year — “During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many restaurants were shuttered, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) created a safe and secure way for restaurants to offer cocktails to go with a meal. The General Assembly has now continued this practice in statute for one year.” [Zebra]
Republican mayoral candidate Catchings announces she won’t get education endorsement — “I will not be receiving the endorsement from APACE – Alexandria Political Action Committee for Education. What matters most is that I receive the support from Alexandria parents and citizens for School Choice !!” [Twitter]
Alexandria Restaurant Week returning Aug. 20-29 — “For 10 days (including two weekends), diners can enjoy specials from 60+ restaurants throughout Alexandria including Old Town, Del Ray, Carlyle, Eisenhower and the West End. Participating restaurants will be offering special $49 in-person and/or to-go dinner for two and select restaurants will also be offering a $25 in-person and/or to-go dinner for one.” [Alexandria Living]
‘Queens On King Street’ is back — “After a hiatus of more than a year due to the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions, Alexandria’s Queens on King Street group will reconvene on Tuesday, July 13th at The Light Horse from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The occasion will also serve as the group’s five-year anniversary. In 2015, co-founders Timothy McCue, Nathan Sell, and Alex Rodriguez-Rozic created Queens on King Street to provide a space for LGBTQ+ individuals that live, work, or just love to visit Old Town Alexandria.” [Visit Alexandria]
VDOT seeking feedback on Little River Turnpike improvement plan — “Give input on a study assessing potential Rt 236 (Little River Tpk) improvements from I-495 in Annandale to I-395 in Alexandria! View a presentation and take our online survey (also available in Spanish and Korean) through 7/28.” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). Hot. High near 95F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low around 75F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Manager — “Dolci Gelati is a small, customer-focused cafe and gelato shop in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria. We strive to serve the very best in innovative coffee drinks, gelatis, and various other pastries and desserts.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Police are investigating the destruction of several Pride flags that were thrown into the fountain at Market Square outside City Hall (301 King Street).
On Sunday evening, approximately half of the multicolored flags mostly erected on light posts around Market Square to commemorate Pride Month were thrown into the fountain, Alexandria Police told ALXnow.
“We have a destruction investigation ongoing at this time,” APD Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga said. “We’re looking into it… At this time the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said that the missing flags will be returned.
“We received a few very disturbing reports about the damage of the Pride flags in Market Square,” Wilson said. “The flags were donated to the City to aid our celebration of Pride. The Alexandria Police Department is investigating and we will ensure that the flags are quickly returned to display.”
June is Pride Month in Alexandria, and the flags are a part of the city’s recognition of “LGBTQ+ people, their influence around the world, and the challenges they face.”
Alexandria Makers Market founder Alyssa Kovach thinks that online marketplaces take away a personal touch.
For nearly two years she’s managed up to 80 Alexandria makers, selling everything from soap and candles to dog food and popcorn seasoning, and on June 27 will feature 15 makers and their products for her first in-person event since the start of the pandemic last year.
“I think the fog really has lifted ,” Kovach told ALXnow. “With this vaccine rolling out, I think everybody’s tentatively, cautiously returning back to normal.”
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, and there are a number of planned events throughout the city.
Kovach is finalizing bands that will play at the Growing Pride at The Garden event, which will be held at Building Momentum at 5380 Eisenhower Avenue. The event feature local LGBTQ+ makers and food trucks from Hog-It-Up BBQ, Professional Competition BBQ Team and Anita’s Frozen Cotton Candy. A portion of the proceeds from will also go to Safe Space NOVA.
Kovach, who owns A|VA Apparel, founded the Makers Market in 2019, and has worked with more than 80 makers. She interviews them, too, in an online interview series Make It Alexandria on ZTV. On June 27, she will interview Amy Eggers, who has been called the “Martha Stewart of Del Ray”.
“For some makers it’s a side hustle, but for most this is how they make their money, put food on their table and keep a roof over their heads,” Kovach said. “That’s a very serious situation.”
Kovach continued, “I think a lot of people have taken this time to take more risks, and to explore areas to expand their product lines and keep things fresh. Simply because now is the time. If you’re not going to sit down and kind of challenges. it’s probably not going to happen. I think that has been good for these makers from a mental standpoint, and they’ve been able to challenge themselves and continue to grow, despite what’s happening to the world in the background.”
Kovach said that she wants to hold more public events in the future, like a holiday market in November.
“I think, in terms of me hosting a marketplace online, I’m not sure that that’s the right direction,” she said. “If we can return to in-person and really focus on that, that would be amazing. I think that would just be fun to do throughout the year, and really kind of make each event special.”
Her first popup event, at Port City Brewing Co. in 2019, had more than 4,000 customers, she said.
“Yeah, it was crazy in the best way possible,” she said. “I thought, okay, I’ve found the lightning in the bottle. This is what we’re going to do. And then COVID hit and everything was put on pause. Now can hopefully get back to the way things were.”
The following makers will be featured at the June 27 event:
Independent Investigation Clears ALX Chamber CEO of Wrongdoing — “The Chamber will be immediately scheduling workplace professionalism training for all staff and Chamber leadership and the Chamber’s Code of Conduct will be updated and clearly communicated to staff and members.” [Alexandria Living]
Beyer Votes ‘YES’ as House Passes Equality Act — “The House just passed the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in receiving health care, and more. I voted YES; this is the final vote:” [Twitter]
Council Approves Stormwater Fee Increase — “City council unanimously passed an ordinance doubling the stormwater utility fee from $140 to $280 during Saturday’s public hearing. The increased fee will add $155 million into the city’s coffers over the next 10 years and will help fund an ambitious new flood mitigation action plan, according to city staff. The plan includes various capacity and spot improvement projects meant to overhaul Alexandria’s crumbling stormwater infrastructure.” [Alex Times]
Single Complaint, Lengthy Permitting Process Jettison Classical Concert Series — “There is a noise ordinance in the city – I totally respect it – but our musicians are softer than the birds that chirp along with us, way softer than the airplanes that fly overhead, way softer than the cars and the motorcycles and all the traffic that moves around us.” [Alex Times]
Councilman John Chapman’s Campaign Kickoff Event is March 7 — “Excited to announce my official re-election campaign kickoff event on Sunday, March 7, at 3pm. Check out my website or FB page for more details. chapman4council.com” [Twitter]
Community Invited to Give Feedback on Colasanto Pool Redesign — “The City of Alexandria has hired LSG Landscape Architecture for the project, which will build on recommendations from a 2016 community survey and the city-sponsored 2012 Aquatic Facilities Study. Funding for the project is made possible by Alexandria’s Capital Investment Program as well as a Community Matching Fund through a partnership with the Del Ray Gateway Project.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “A mix of clouds and sun in the morning followed by cloudy skies during the afternoon. High 51F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph…. Cloudy with periods of rain. Low around 40F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Staff Member –“We are seeking dedicated professionals who are reliable, hardworking, and passionate to join our wait staff here at Il Porto Ristorante. Should have at least one year of experience working in high volume dine in restaurant. Compensation is $800-$1200 a week. We will be accepting application’s daily Starting March 1, 2021 between 2-4 p.m.” [Indeed]