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Global Economic & Conflict Worries Contrast to Predictions of F.C. Bliss

“Let’s hope that all our good predictions come true, and our bad ones don’t.”

That comment pretty much summed up thoughts at a gathering of wise Falls Church salts who gathered to assess the Little City and the world going into 2019 last week at the Ireland’s Four Provinces restaurant.

One seasoned soul said he didn’t want to put any of his thoughts into writing, because he is so worried that something really drastic is going to happen on a grand scale for the world.

Most, however, were more sanguine, especially in terms of assessing the prospects for Falls Church and the region against the instability being generated out of the White House. But no one was being glib.

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The News-Press has been asking around, as it has done every year at this time, including requesting an array of local citizens to remark on what they think is in store. The comments have been particularly interesting this year. Seldom have people been so worried about the impact that national and global developments may have locally.

It should not be a surprise, given that the federal government is currently partially shut down, and dark clouds of uncertainty loom regarding the economy and the prospect for trade wars and global conflicts. Political chaos, combined with tariffs and a global economic slowdown could spell trouble, which for some make the announcement by Amazon that it will locate half of its HQ2 in this area seem like a glimmer of hope, while others point to the growing crisis around the need for affordable housing.

In terms of written responses, here’s a sampling of what people have had to say this year (we can’t get in everyone’s quotes, nor in their entirety, but hope to reflect the overall mood):

The Rev. John Ohmer, rector, the Falls Church Episcopal: “I believe that in 2019, the City of Falls Church will be the beneficiary of ‘localism.’ Amidst the breakdown in civic norms at the highest level of government, and with more Americans talking at each other instead of with each other, there remains a deep desire among most people to belong to community and to participate in something larger than one’s self. ‘Localism’ — increasing participation in one’s local school, shops, farmer’s market, faith community and local government — offers the best hope of having that desire met. I’m hopeful that localism will cause a ‘ripple effect’ of positive change in the wider culture, as well.”

Nikki Graves, co-founder of the Tinner Hill Foundation: “I see love in 2019. I believe 2019 will test the values and moral fabric of Falls Church citizens. Our claim (goal) of being inclusive, open and welcoming will force us to step outside our comfort zone. There will be opportunities to not only listen but to respond politically, professionally and personally to the widest circle of our Falls Church family. We will be called to erase the lines of ‘them vs. us’…socio-economic status, renters, home owners, homeless, families with children, empty nesters, race, ethnicity, language, age, education, religion/values, politics, sexual orientation, physical abilities. Our character will be reflected in words and action.”

Mark Werblood, attorney, long-time Chamber of Commerce board member: “The surest prediction for Falls Church is a measure of unpredictability. I believe the Little City’s residents, businesses and schools will experience a generally positive arc with occasional, inevitable glitches. I believe that implementation of ongoing development, including Founders Row, will proceed quite well with less disruption to daily life than feared. I anticipate the Broad and Washington project reemerging with some tweaking, most likely a more modest Class A office space component, but with the essential residential and commercial components intact or enhanced, including a new theater and arts space for Creative Cauldron as part of a burgeoning downtown entertainment district.”

Pete Davis, F.C. native and recent Harvard Law School graduate now living back in the City: “Two things are on my mind as the Little City in the new year. First, with the arrival of HQ2 and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s prioritization of anti-eviction policy, 2019 may be the year our region wakes up to our affordable housing crisis. If we do, 2019 could be a pivotal year for promoting much-needed economic diversity in Falls Church. Secondly, 2019 brings us an enriching state senate primary between Yasmine Taeb and Dick Saslaw. It will be a great opportunity for Falls Church voters to discuss campaign finance reform, clean energy, and diversity in the state house.

Mike and June Beyer, car dealership owner and local artist: “We predict a year of happy harmony for our Little City. Neighbors will invite each other into their homes to listen and learn. Children will play together outdoors offering kindness to those in need. The creative arts will flourish with First Friday and Second Saturday events to relax and enjoy. The Education City will continue a tradition of excellence with incredible leadership, strong community and social justice. As buildings rise so will compassion and empathy. More apartments will bring more affordable housing for teachers, police officers and firefighters, to name a few. Everyone will be welcomed with loving arms to the Center of the Universe, our beloved City of Falls Church.

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Johannah Berry, former F.C. City Council member: “Cities and communities are organic, changing and adapting to a wide range of pressures. Those most successful not only survive but thrive. Those less successful are marginalized and become extinct. The City of Falls Church is a living entity which has survived by filling a most unusual niche — a geographically small town with extraordinary vision, committed to maintaining a diverse and engaged population and excellence in all its public services. In 2019, I hope that the City embraces and actively maintains its identity as a forward thinking community which daily reflects its founding principles of economic sustainability, inclusivity, and transparency within its small and committed citizenry.”

Ed Novak, developer: “The biggest news for 2019 is likely to be progress, hopefully all positive, for the George Mason High School construction and redevelopment plans and approvals for the commercial redevelopment by EYA/PN Hoffman. The latter is an ambitious project that will require continued cooperation from both market forces and between the developers and the City. A close second headline on the development front will be the commencement of construction of the long-debated and long-awaited Founders Row project. Broad and Washington will likely remain on hold for most or all of 2019. The ‘Amazon Impact’ will be more of increased optimism regarding the future of the area.”

Laura Hull, founder, executive director, Creative Cauldron: “Falls Church will continue to grow and flourish in 2019, bringing new attention to the rich, vibrant and diverse community that it has become over the past years. History and traditions that celebrate it (Heritage Days, the Tinner Hill Blues Festival) will remain central to its identity and appeal, but newer traditions, like the annual tree lighting ceremony, the women’s history march, the thriving arts scene and others, will continue to revitalize and enrich it. Falls Church will become a hub for the northern Virginia region, a welcoming, walkable, “downtown” gathering place that retains a small town character.”

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