Category Archives: Speak Up!

A Flush of Insight: Local Mom Tours the Arlington Water Pollution Plant

I’m a sucker for a plant tour. Such a sucker, in fact, that a mild day in March had me suiting up in reflective vest, safety goggles, and a hardhat for an hour-and-a-half tromp around Arlington County’s sewage treatment facility, the Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP). (Also, I am the mother of a potty-training three-year-old boy. This is familiar territory.) My guide was Frank Corsoro, Operations Specialist. His job involves monitoring and controlling the processes that turn all the stuff that people flush down their toilets into clear water that is pretty darn clean. (Cleaner, in fact, than what much of the world is drinking.) Mr. Corsoro conducts tours of the plant to help educate the public about this facility that is so important to the health of Virginia waterways, including Four Mile Run, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay. If you like to eat crab cakes, you should care deeply about what goes on at the WPCP and places like it throughout the Ches Bay watershed.

Operations Center

Mr. Corsoro is a longtime sewage treatment process control guy. When he says he could talk about this stuff all day, I believe him. There is a lot to know. Raw sewage undergoes physical, chemical, and biological treatment processes. All the inputs and outputs of each process are constantly measured and monitored, to make sure the right levels of nutrients, oxygen, coagulants, bacteria, and minerals are present. Computers in the Operations Control Building keep all the systems running smoothly. Recent upgrades to the plant included a massive generator to allow business to continue as usual in case of power outages. Continue reading


Shirlington Dog Park to Ban Children?

This morning, the Examiner reports that after a meeting held by the Shirlington Community Canine Area (CCA) on Thursday, a decision has been made to “ban” children under 8 and require that children ages 8-14 be accompanied by an adult.

According to the Examiner, Keith Fred, head of the Shirlington Dogs sponsoring group that voluntarily manages the park, said that the County has made the decision already, and they are just waiting for a final review by the County’s lawyers before they post the new rule at the park.

With the ever growing number of families who reside in the Shirlington area. We wonder how parent’s will feel about the ban. Over recent years there area has experienced a huge boom in not only adults, but now a transformation of those adults with multiple dogs into adults with multiple dogs and children.

So what’s the reason behind the no children ban? We’d like to know.

Two Dog Tales
blog post mentions: Dog park users were not informed that the rule was under consideration, and no public notice was posted to invite community input prior to the County making the decision. Continue reading

LGBT teens find their community in Fairfax Open House

Fairfax Open House is a supervised, safe gathering space for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning or intersex (LGBTQQI) Jewish teens, their friends and allies.

Teens between the ages of 13-18 yrs old in the Northern Virginia area are finding an accepting community to socialize and work through the life challenges teens face.

Fairfax Open House is modeled on the Rockville Open House in Maryland and the Jerusalem Open House in Jerusalem, Israel who provide community support and human rights advocacy.

With the assistance and guidance of Keshet, a grassroots organization that works for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews in Jewish life, and with the support of the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV), Fairfax Open House will begin meeting this Fall.

Meet the people behind FOH this Sunday at the Israeli Street Festival (event flier) at Fairfax Corner.

Arlington Green Living Expo Highlights Green Schools (This Weekend)

Green Living Expo on this Saturday, March 19 at Washington-Lee High School from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Expo is FREE to the public and family-friendly! Featuring green suppliers, products from local and national businesses, exhibits, seminars, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, and food sales.

This year the expo will highlight a green schools section that will include a separate area in the exhibit hall with exhibit booths, networking round-tables, and posters from individual schools on their green school activities. Networking round-table topics will include energy, water, climate change, global dimensions, transportation, school grounds, consumption and waste, and green hour. There will also be a dedicated area for 45-minute green school seminars taking place all day.

Map It

Bullying, Violence and Inappropriate Behaviour: It’s not the Schools, It’s the Parents. (Opinion)

This morning I woke to the news that “a D.C. elementary school student was charged with possession of a controlled substance Thursday after being accused of taking cocaine to school and sharing it with four classmates who were hospitalized after ingesting the drug.” (via Washington Post, see full article here).

Being a parent of a fourth grader in Arlington, I have heard of and dealt with the issues of bullying and inappropriate behavior in our school, but the story of elementary school age kids involved with a controlled substance, at this level, just tops it.

I’ve worked with an endless number of kids/parents in the past and now adding the role of parent to that background, I feel I can rationalize things, and work my way through the questions of “How does this happen and how did we get here?”; instead of taking the easy route and saying, “We have terrible schools,” or “Let’s blame the government, the schools, the teachers, and sadly in some cases, even the child.”

After observing the huge efforts made by Arlington Schools over the last five years, I’ve seen the school system develop and implement anti-bullying programs across class levels and have a full process of support for the families involved in an incident. If you were to walk through my child’s elementary school at any given day you’d see student made posters of anti-bullying, a rocket shooting the words “send bullying out of this world” into outer-space instead of posters talking about the Science Fair or Math Club. Continue reading

APS Withdrawing Grade 4 Social Studies (History) Print Textbooks from Classrooms

APS posted a news release today, January 12th, 2011 stating the following;

Based upon the recent information about the number and scope of errors identified in the Grade 4 Social Studies textbook, Our Virginia: Past and Present, Arlington Public Schools (APS) officials announced today their decision to remove all print copies of the textbooks from circulation and use in Grade 4 classrooms“.

According to the APS News Release, the following steps will be taken in classrooms.

  • Until the new, corrected, digital copy of the text is provided by Five Ponds Press (expected by the end of January) schools and teachers are being provided a detailed error list and identified supplemental resources to use in the short-term.
  • Once the corrected digital copy is available, APS will provide:
    • Digital access to all Grade 4 students to replace the current digital version.
    • Additional training, as needed, for teachers in using the digital textbook.
    • Additional training, as requested, for parents in using the digital textbook.
    • Additional materials, as needed, to those students who are unable to access the digital textbook.

See the full release here.


This Weekend (December 11th)




SATURDAY, December 11th

Winter Wonderland @ Market Common Clarendon (Arlington)
Santa will be visiting the Market Common at Clarendon and is planning to arrive by firetruck at 1pm! Stick around for visits and photos with Santa until 5pm! Enjoy festive holiday activities and entertainment from 1 – 5pm. MIX 107.3 will be here with the US Marines, accepting donations for Toys for Tots from 10 am until 3 pm and doing a live broadcast.

Bilingual Children’s Concert Featuring, Jose Luis Orozco @ Arlington Central Library
Bilingual educator, children’s author, and recording artist, Jose Luis Orozco will have a FREE children’s concert starting at 2pm in the Central Library auditorium.

Yogi Bear – Arlington Kids Advance Movie Screening @ AMC Theater (Tysons)
Attend an advance screening of the Yogi Bear movie at 11am for FREE. You must get passes in advance. See here for more info on how to reserve your space.

6th Annual Wheels to Africa Bike Collection @ Various Locations
Donate a new or used bike to Wheels to Africa, a nonprofit organization whose principal purpose is to work with local youth, ages 10-18, to organize local bike collections and send the donated bikes to communities in Africa. The bikes are used to provide basic transportation for people to reach school, food, water, and medical care. A donated bike can change a life.

A $10 donation is requested with each donated bike to help cover the costs for collecting, storing, and shipping the bikes. A 10 percent discount coupon will be provided from local bicycle stores good toward the purchase of a new bike. Wheels to Africa is an all volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. A receipt will be provided for your tax-deductible contributions.

Drop Off Locations

Children’s Kwanzaa Craft Workshop @ Black History Museum (Alexandria)
Jessica Smith, founder of Culture Kingdom Kids, and Kwanzaa educator Pier Penic will direct children (ages 4-12) and their parents in making Kwanzaa crafts. This event will be located in the Museum’s Watson Reading Room from 1pm to 3pm. Advance reservations requested. $5 fee covers craft supplies. 703.746.4356

Russian Winter Festival @ The Hillwood Estate (DC)
Spend the holidays at Hillwood in Old Russian style. Celebrate Sviatki, the Christmas season, in snowy, wintry Russia! Russian Folk Music, Russian Folk Music, Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden, Russian Hat Workshop.
Saturday, December 11, 10am–7pm | Sunday, December 12, 1–5pm
$18, $12 Member, $7 College Student, $5 Children ages 6-18

Book Ornament Workshop @ Hooray For Books (Alexandria)
Kids create, color, and decorate a book ornament for the tree – they should bring along a couple of photos to cut and use. Advance registration ($15) is required. Age 3 and up.