Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council
With no City Council meeting this week, I debated taking a week off to use this platform judiciously to let other voices be heard. Like the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been paralyzed by the enormity of the job ahead. There is much to learn and many worthy causes to support. The best advice I received: just start somewhere. So I’ve decided to still write this week, with a Falls Church-specific angle of taking action.
To start, I know our hearts are heavy and minds are weary – still absorbing the news of George Floyd’s horrific murder and too many other victims of racist violence; millions’ frustrated with systemic racism boiling over into protests, some hijacked and turned destructive; peaceful demonstrators teargassed and shot at while lawfully exercising their first amendment rights – all in the backdrop of a pandemic and economic crisis where we can’t work or gather to cope. It is all so much. I’m going to be more emphatic than our official statement that was issued this week. After too many drafts of trying to get the words right, I only have three words. #BlackLivesMatter
I encourage you to turn your despair and privilege into action, beyond hashtags and social media blackouts.
So what could action look like in Falls Church? It’s important to acknowledge that racism exists even in the most well-intentioned and progressive communities like ours. The structural inequalities have always been there, but are that much more apparent in crisis. As your local government, I believe we have a responsibility to take a critical eye to our policing practices (as President Obama has just called on every mayor and city council in America to do, which I support). We also have a role in undoing 400 years of inequity every time we cast a vote on matters related to education, housing, healthcare, and economic opportunity. If this matters to you too, tell us. Honor Mr. Floyd and all the others who have been lost to a culture of white supremacy by holding your elected officials to that expectation and voting for those who share your values.
Read on for other ideas, especially local opportunities today and this weekend. Let’s crowdsource this – send me other suggestions. Clearly doing nothing is not an option.
PS June is Pride Month and this Friday is Wear Orange Day for Gun Violence Prevention. These ceremonial proclamations, centered on our community values, are also an important reminder of our challenges on multiple fronts. Did you know: Black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide.
- Today 130 pm: there is a BLM Unity Walk organized by students that begins in West End Park. Roads will be closed and walkers should keep social distance. If you want to join in but are concerned about crowding, here are two alternatives:
- Stand in solidarity along the walking route with your signs
- Leave ribbons and signs at the Tinner Hill Monument (arch outside of Target) and learn about our local history if you don’t know it yet
- Saturday 11 am – 3 pm: Peaceful Rally of Slaveholder George Mason’s Name on our High School
- Sunday 1 pm: Falls Church Justice for Black Lives Rally
Learn & Give
So that this is truly a turning point in our history, will we all commit to do the work of becoming anti-racist after the rallies and signs? There is no shortage of resources with recommendations, so I won’t try to provide an exhaustive list (this and this are very good attempts). Below are ones my family and I have personally found valuable, some national and some very local.
- Last year, I had recommended these books: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, the latter which I personally credit for opening my eyes to the failing criminal justice system. Just Mercy the movie will be available for free to stream this month.
- Summer reading for kids
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund – legal organization fighting racial injustice
- Campaign Zero – data and research-informed policy solutions to end police violence
- ACLU – provides legal assistance wherever civil liberties are at risk
- Equal Justice Initiative – mentioned above, working to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality
- DC Chapter of Black Lives Matter
- Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation – our own piece of civil rights history
- Together Rising – national organization with a local connection, their most recent campaign is supporting the National Bailout Project (Look here for a city by city bail fund listing.)
- Become a member of the National Museum of African American History & Culture – their online portal has lots of family-friendly resources
A nice intersection of supporting change + living local is to seek out and support BIPOC-owned local businesses. I really struggled to identify BIPOC-owned ones within the City of Falls Church (which itself is meaningful and I hope that also gives you pause.) In this article about DMV black-owned restaurants open during COVID, our own Caribbean Plate was featured.
Not BIPOC-owned but this was the best corporate statement and call to action I’ve read (and why I’ll forever love Phish Food). Many others stepping up.
Donate masks/face-coverings: the City is asking for donations of homemade face-coverings/masks for our at-risk population
Weekend food drive: the last Girl Scout food drive donated 2,000 lbs of food to Food for Others, and you can help again!
Monetary donations or food needed:
- Canned meat (tuna, chicken)
- Canned tomatoes
- Rice/Pasta Canned Spaghetti Sauce
- Canned chili
- Canned fruit
- Fruit Juice (32oz-64oz)
- Dried or canned beans
Porch Drop Off Locations:
South of Broad St.
● 145 S. Spring St
● 1009 Parker St
● 101A W. George Mason Rd
● 1305 Tracy Place
● 110 Grace Lane
● 505 Hillwood Ave
North of Broad St.
● 320 N. West St
● 304 N. Lee St
● 504 Meridian St
● 204 Grove St
● 320 Little Falls St
● 216 Midvale St
● 203 Buxton Rd
- As the Governor announced this week, Virginia – except NoVA and Richmond – will be entering Phase 2 on Friday, June 5. Since NoVA will have only been in Phase 1 for a week, I think it’s prudent to continue monitoring the data before progressing.
- The detailed guidelines for Phase 2 have also been released, which should be helpful for businesses to prepare.
- Some highlights of what will change when NoVA transitions from Phase 1 to 2:
- Restaurants can have indoor seating at 50% capacity
- Gyms can open at 30% capacity
- Gatherings are limited to 50 people
- Some good news: on 4/26 the 7-day rolling average positive rate for COVID-19 testing in NoVA was 35.9%; as of 5/30 it was down to 14.8%. Your efforts in helping to stop the spread by wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, washing hands, physical distancing, etc. are working. This is, however, no time to let up. In the past, I’ve shared both data from VA Department of Health and our local Fairfax County Health Department, this NVRC dashboard gives a good regional view of all of NoVA.
What’s Coming Up:
- Monday, June 8: City Council Meeting
- Monday, June 22: Final Vote on CIP
City Council Meetings start at 730 pm, unless otherwise specified. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of all of our other virtual Board & Commission meetings: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/471/Watch-City-Council-Meetings