As the Leaves in Washington D.C. Fall, so does the Enthusiasm to Fight Zika

Since the 2016 Olympics in August, Zika has been slowly fading from the public’s eye. In July, the House passed the Zika Response Appropriation Act, which is now waiting for the Senate’s approval, but doesn’t look like it will be addressed until next year, according to Dr. Nathan Paxton, a Professorial Lecturer at American University’s School of International Service.

For now, Dr. Paxton, who studies global and public health, is just making a lot of phone calls to gather information.

Just this summer, Capitol Hill had a sighting of Zika carrying mosquitoes, but wasn’t made a huge issue with the upcoming winter months hopefully killing off all of the mosquitoes.

Photo by Michael Daly/ The Daily Beast. A birdbath pictured in Washington D.C., was believed to hold Zika carrying mosquitoes.


Staying current on what we’ve learned about Zika will help those who live in warmer climates, like Florida, or are planning to travel to places where Zika has continued to be an issue.

Infogram taken from public domain at


Jill Christmas, an experienced traveler and hiker, often escapes the city life to enjoy a warmer climate. Her upcoming trip is to Argentina, where she says, “Zika is always in the back of my mind.” She said she was given the extensive run down of Zika before her last trip to South America earlier this year, but because she’s not planning on having children anytime soon, she’s not overly worried.

Infogram taken from public domain at

Dr. Paxton says that Zika is dangerous for three reasons.

“First, it’s hard to detect, we have tests that can now detect it, but they’re not normal,” meaning it’s not a routine test and can’t be given to everyone because the resources aren’t available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

“Second, it’s the transmission method, anywhere on the East Coast, we know what it’s like, I mean we spend all of our Summers with Mosquitoes, most of us can’t tell if they’re sort of normal mosquitoes we have, or Aedes aegypti,” says Nathan Paxton, on why Zika is dangerous.

The third thing that makes Zika dangerous is that it is also sexually transmitted, which Nathan says is the first mosquito driven disease he is aware of that can be transmitted this way.

One of the side effects of Zika is babies being born with Microcephaly, a birth defect which causes the babies to have smaller heads.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images. A child born in Brazil with Microcephaly.
Photo by Felipe Dana / The Associated Press.

For more information, visit the CDC’s website on Zika.

Street Performer Draws Crowd Outside of Gallery Place Metro Station

Street performers in Washington D.C. seem lucky to have a few people stopping to drop a dollar or two in, but to draw a crowd is a tremendous feat. For Vanny, the crowd and the attention is fairly normal.

“You’re so amazing,” was the common phrase of people complimenting the performer as she was unplugging her equipment. One woman standing next to Vanny couldn’t stop complimenting the artist on her talent and beauty.

Vanny, short for Vanessa, has been singing and playing music since she was 11-years old. Being homeschooled her Senior year of High School allowed her the time to practice online and further her musical talent.

“When I got to my Senior in High School, and I had all of that free time, I just encouraged my Dad to come with me out here and to just start playing guitar.” Said Vanny, who has been busking for two years now.

Vanny playing outside of Gallery PL/Chinatown Station on Friday, November 4th, 2016.

In regards to her experience performing, she says, “for the most part, it’s a crazy experience, dealing with the public, anything can happen.”

Vanny says that every now and then someone will harass her and disrupt the scene, but for the most part it’s people who want to compliment her, book her, or just simply tip.

Vanny can be seen outside of the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station on the red line in Washington D.C. She says she performs mostly on the weekends because she’s in school and has homework.

Vanny is available to play at restaurants, birthday parties, or any event that could be made better with Vanny’s amazing voice.

A Week After the Grand Opening, What’s In Store at the new REI Flagship?

Employees of the new REI Flagship stand outside to cheer on the first customers to the store during the Grand Opening celebration on October 21st, 2016 in Washington D.C.

It has been a week since the 5th Flagship for the REI Co-Op opened in Washington D.C, and according to the General Manager, Becky Smith, the three-day block party exceeded her expectations.

When discussing the successful weekend, Becky had this to say of her experience.

“It was amazing to see the people come into the store and simply step back and say, “Wow!”. The lines of people waiting to check-out, engage with our vendors, talk to our Adventure Station or simply get a cup of coffee was indicative of what our goal was: bring together a sense of community and a place for people to dream about new adventures.” Said Becky Smith, the new General Manager for the D.C. Flagship.

The grand opening celebration of the store has faded, but their mark on the community is just starting.

One of the main attractions is the bike shop at the front of the store at the REI Flagship in Washington D.C.

The new Flagship is located on the Metropolitan Branch Trail by Noma-Galluadet Metro Station.  The bike shop at the front of the store makes it easy for cyclists to bring their bike in for a quick repair.

Information from Infographic gathered from The Washington Post


The many bike racks at the front of the store accommodate the biking community in Washington D.C.
The enclosed outdoor space is where trained specialists will be holding classes at the new REI Flagship in Washington D.C.

Members of the Co-Op and the community are able to sign up for classes, such as paddling, climbing, or hiking, to prepare them for a better experience outside.

The outdoor space also serves as a sitting area to enjoy coffee from La Colombe at the new REI Flagship in Washington D.C.

REI gives back to the community in a big way, as mentioned by the GM, Becky Smith, in last week’s article. Whether it be cleaning up trails in a park, or donating thousands to local non-profits, like WABA, REI is doing their part to make a positive impact on the Washington D.C. community.

For more information on REI Flagship in Washington D.C. and their contributions, visit their website.

GM Opens REI’s Fifth Flagship for the Co-op in Washington D.C.

GM Opens REI’s Fifth Flagship for the Co-op in Washington D.C. from Jillian Knight on Vimeo.


REI, which stands for Recreational Equipment Inc., opened its 5th Flagship this weekend with a three-day block party celebration. The events were open to the public and included marching bands, outdoor classes, screen printings, live bands and DJs all weekend long, and of course, a webbing cutting by the store’s GM.

Becky Smith, the General Manager for the new Flagship was beyond excited to be opening this Flagship in the historical arena that it once was.

“This building is just a really incredible example of architecture that was back in the 40’s, and we’ve been able to really keep some of those original elements in the space,” says Becky Smith, who has been with REI for ten years as of August 21st.  “You see the arches from the outside of the it, and then when you come into our space, you still get a sense of some those old features that we have. We’re able to recover some of the old basketball flooring from where the Harlem Globetrotters played on this court, we’re able to keep some of the old stadium style seating, kind of up on a wall.”

On the wall of the Co-op are all of the concerts the building hosted in the 60s and 70s.
The original stadium seating from the arena was preserved on the wall of the store to show the history of the building. The people that sat in these seats saw the first concert The Beatles ever played in the U.S.


The building isn’t the only thing Becky is excited about sharing with the community. As far as the impact on the  DC community, she had this to say about how REI plans to leave its mark.

“REI gives back big time to the DC community, so this year alone, we’ll give over 1 million dollars to local and national non profits that are headquartered here in the DC area, so absolutely an amazing example of that. On a more local level, just a few weeks ago we took 84 of our new inspired guides out to Fort Dupont, worked side by side with members of the National Park to clean up some of trails.”

Each day started with hundreds of people lining up  early in the morning to get in as soon as the doors opened. The first 500 each day received water bottles with gift cards inside of them. The three day block party proved that people are excited to have an REI in their DC community.

For more information, or to find an REI closest to you, visit their website.

Back to the Basics of Social Interaction with Board Games

Back to the Basics of Social Interaction with Board Games from Jillian Knight on Vimeo.

Board games are making a come back. So much so, that a local German Cultural Center is celebrating the popularity of German board games with board game evenings.

This past Friday, October 14th, 2016, the Goethe-Institut in Washington D.C. hosted an evening of board games, wine, snacks, and social interaction. Anyone who wanted to participate was welcome to join for a fee of $5.00. Over 40 people eventually showed up to enjoy the event.

Norma Broadwater is the Public Relations Coordinator for the Goethe-Institut, and she got the idea for a game evening after visiting a store that informed her that the most popular board games come from Germany.

“It was kind of a revelation to me, so I thought well, wouldn’t that be fun to present that to others,” says Norma, who has been with the Goethe-Institut for almost 15 years.

She says what she likes about the evening is it brings together people from both Germany and the U.S.

With the help of Ben and Evan, owners of the game store Labyrinth, Norma has been able to make the experience more enjoyable.

Ben and Evan have been hooked on board games for years, so their expertise allows them to teach the instructions of many complex games including Settlers of Catan, Carrassonne, The Downfall of Pompeii, Camels Up, Karuba, and Hanabi.

With the help of Ben and Evan, Norma and the staff at the Geothe-Institut have set up an experience that offers numerous health benefits from playing board games. The most important one being, it makes us happy.

“Between the game store folks being very good at explaining and people just being very welcoming,” says Norma, “there have been a lot of friendships formed and by the end of the evening people aren’t really wanting to leave, and there’s a very happy sound throughout the space.”

For more information on the Goethe-Institut’s events, visit their website.

For more information on Ben and Evan, visit their game store on Pennsylvania Ave. in  Washington D.C., or their website.

Hundreds Run Ahead of Death at the Historic Congressional Cemetery

Hundreds Run Ahead of Death at the Historic Congressional Cemetery from Jillian Knight on Vimeo.


WASHINGTON D.C.- Hundreds gathered at the Historic Congressional Cemetery on October 1st, 2016 for the annual Dead Man’s Run 5K event in Washington D.C.’s Capitol Hill.

People from neighboring communities gathered at the cemetery, many dressed in Halloween costumes, to have some fun and support the preservation of the 209-year-old historic cemetery.

The headstone of Bobby Dempsey buried at the Historic Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

More than 300 people signed up to participate and support one of the oldest institutions in D.C. Many kids also showed up to run the 3.12 mile race through the cemetery, showing their abundance of energy is helping them stay healthy. If they weren’t up for the challenge, a kids’ fun run started five minutes after the 5K at 6pm.

All runners received a Dead Man’s Run 5K T-Shirt for their participation in the race on October 1st, 2016 at the Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C.

Activities before the race included a DJ playing music for people to dance and warm up to, and a bubble machine for kids. The after race activities included a beer tent for all 21 and over participants.

The first place winner was Desta Morkama of Arlington, VA with a time of just over 17 minutes.

For more information on the cemetery and its upcoming events, visit their website.

4th Annual Race for Every Child-Thousands Raise Money for Children’s National

4th Annual Race for Every Child-Thousands Raise Money for Children’s National from Jillian Knight on Vimeo.

WASHINGTON DC- People gathered at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue this past rainy Saturday, for the 4th Annual Race for Every Child 5K. Over 3,000 people participated in the race, resulting in over 1.2 million dollars being raised for Children’s National to provide much needed health care to children.

The percentage of children with insurance is increasing, but there is still a percentage of each state’s population that does not receive coverage. That is why Children’s National Health System continues on their mission; to help children grow up stronger.

“This event really speaks to what we love about Children’s,” said Campbell Smith, along with his wife Grace are the co-chairs for the race this year. Grace and Campbell have a son who was born with a heart defect, and because of Children’s National Health System, he was able to receive treatment.

Dr. Bear at the finish line, waiting for participants to finish at the 4th Annual Race for Every Child 5K event in Washington D.C.

Members from neighboring communities came to the event to show their support for the cause. The first place winner was Sean Laffey from Arlington, VA. Second place went to Scott Anderson of D.C.; whose son came to give him a hug after he finished.

It was an all morning event, with a kid’s dash, and inflated jump houses and obstacle courses for children. Despite the downpours, people enjoyed supporting the cause.

To make a donation to Children’s National, visit their website.

Local Farmer Says Farmers’ Markets are Different Than When She Started 20 Years Ago

Local Farmer Says Farmers’ Markets are Different Than When She Started 20 Years Ago from Jillian Knight on Vimeo.

The recent interest in healthy eating has brought on higher interest in farmers’ markets in the past twenty years. The interest has been significantly increasing, with over 8,000 farmers’ markets available in the United States. The markets have evolved over the years, to what Alexandria Tyron-Hopko calls “open air food courts.”

Alexandria has seen the evolution of farmers’ markets first hand. She has been part of the USDA Farmers Market in Washington D.C. for twenty years. Her business, So Very Special, LLC, is the only original vendor left at this market. Next to her stand was a popcorn vendor, so she doesn’t believe these markets are the same as they were when she first started.

Available at Alexandria’s stand are not your day to day herbs. When discussing with her husband about what they were going to do when they moved to Maryland, Alexandria, also a nuclear engineer, told her husband “If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do unusual ones and not run of the mill, ya know, not the standard six that you can buy at the Lowes, or whatever.”

Alexandria prefers to sell interesting herbs, seen here are aloe, shamrock, and scented geraniums. Photo taken by Jillian Knight at a Farmer’s Market in Washington D.C.

Her stand sells tarragon, scented geranium, lippia, six to eight varieties of basil, 12-14 varieties of rosemary, lemon verbena, and 20 varieties of lavender. She also has various soaps and skin care products that the younger generation is more interested in purchasing.

She says the demographics that come to the markets are younger, and more interested in aromas and soaps, than purchasing food to cook.

Alexandria’s business, now taken over by her daughter Melissa, is doing well. She enjoys having people stop by the stand to talk with her about her work and her products, as well as providing herbs for her regular customers.

Alexandria is just one of the many farmers contributing to the growing interest in fresh food available at farmers’ markets. For more information and to see if there is a farmer’s market near you, visit the USDA website.


Augusta Boys and Girls Club Super Hero 5K in Capitol Park

Everyone has different reasons for signing up to run a 5K race.  For George Sprigg, from Bath, Maine, it is to beat his best time from over twenty years ago.

“I’m training to beat my personal best record when I was 20, just getting out of the Marine Corps, and I’m now 41.” George’s best time was 17:58. He was unable to beat that time at this race.

The 5K George participated in was for the Augusta Boys and Girls Club in Capitol Park this past weekend on September 10, 2016. People gathered in the Capitol of Maine to run the 3.12-mile race to help raise money to support the Boys and Girls  Club’s mission, which is to provide a safe place for teens in the area to learn and grow.

This was the 3rd annual Super Run for the Augusta Boys and Girls Club, where you are encouraged to dress up as your favorite superhero. Only 16 people showed up to participate in the race, but the majority of them had on a superhero t-shirt.

Each of the 16 participants at the Augusta Boys and Girls Club Super Run 5K at Capitol Park in Augusta, Maine received a super hero cape and a medal after finishing the race. The first place winner received two round trip tickets from Augusta to Boston via Cape Air.

The new Director for the Boys and Girls Club in Augusta, Charles Huerth, wearing a Captain America t-shirt, has only been there for a month, but he  has some ideas on what to do for the upcoming school year.  This year he’s hoping for some more educational type things to expand their minds.

“In the past what we’ve done, is we’ve gone to like Salem, Mass to see some museums and such,”  says Charles, “we’ve gone to some fun places like FunTown to kind of get them out and about and active, just trying some different things.”

Charles says there are also services available during the Summer to help maintain what they may be used to during the school year.

He says they try to supplement what they need during the school year such as the food pantry that the kids can utilize, and the back pack program.

The race started on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and followed the Kennebec Rail Trail along the Kennebec river. The first place winner received a pair of round trip plane tickets from Augusta to Boston, which first place winner George Sprigg happily accepted.

For more information on what the Boys and Girls Club is doing, visit their Facebook page at


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