General Assembly: Education for the 21st Century

September 17, 2015

What is deemed to be the conventional education route may not be for everyone, and adults are following a growing number of alternative paths. General Assembly is the latest innovation, bridging the gap for those seeking a convenient yet challenging way to continue their education and thrive in booming industries.

The school, which launched in 2011, specializes in the fields of business, technology and design. Headquartered in New York City, General Assembly has fourteen different campuses spread across four continents, including a Washington, D.C., location at 1133 15th St. NW.

“There’s a major gap when people graduate with really interesting degrees but without the course skillset to enter the professional workforce,” said Paul Gleger, regional director of the D.C. campus.

General Assembly provides several programs to help students at all levels acquire a greater knowledge of the skills necessary to succeed in today’s world. Whether it be through full-time or part-time courses, topic-specific workshop sessions or special events, a General Assembly education creates a modern learning experience around the skills for advancing one’s career.

“It’s 100 percent hands-on,” said Gleger of the teaching method. “The lecture component is very minimal.”

For those without convenient access to a classroom, General Assembly’s online programs offer the same invaluable training, allowing students to take away an understanding of topics such as marketing, financial modeling and computer design.

As for kickstarting a new career, there is a global network of organizations — Apple, Buzzfeed, Google and Spotify to name a few — that have hired alumni and continue to look for graduates. According to General Assembly, 99 percent of graduates from its Immersive programs — 8-to-12-week, full-time programs focusing on web development, user experience design and product management — are hired within six months of graduation.

Beyond classes, the campuses hold information sessions and events that cater to many interests. “Any given night, there could be seven different events going on,” Gleger noted. “There’s a lot of opportunities.”

General Assembly is a 21st-century creation that focuses on just that: the 21st century. With constant technological evolution, General Assembly is prepared to adapt and expand its course offerings to provide the vital skills that the professionals of today and tomorrow require. Summing up the school’s philosophy, Gleger said: “It’s all about understanding and analyzing the demand for certain skills. It’s very market-driven.”

Bowser Set to Crack Down on Synthetic Drug Sales

August 17, 2015

Mayor Muriel Bowser plans to sign the “Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015” into law July 10.

The new legislation will authorize local police and government officials to “take swifter and stronger action against businesses that sell synthetic drugs,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office. The illegal substances, which are known by street names like “Spice,” “K2,” “Kush,” and “Scooby Snax” have had sales traced to gas stations and liquor stores.

The city has experienced a rise in overdoses of various synthetic drugs, and officials fear that the effects of the drugs can lead to a spike in homicides and other violent crimes.

Synthetic drugs appear to have played a part in the July 4 metro stabbing that left one man dead, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Authorities believe the suspect in the attack, 18-year-old Jasper Spires, had synthetic drugs in his system at the time. The drugs can contribute to violent, erratic behavior and an altered mental state of those who consume it.

Bowser will be joined by District Councilmembers and law enforcement officials at the signing.

Bowser Signs Synthetic Drug Act into Law

Joined by law enforcement and other community officials, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the “Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015” into law July 10, in a proactive step to cleanse Washington, D.C., of synthetic marijuana.

The new law allows the Metropolitan Police Department to enforce harsh penalties on businesses found selling the substance and comes on the heels of a dangerous spike in overdoses and links to violent crimes around the city, most recently a fatal stabbing aboard a Metro train.

Authorities are now granted the right to issue businesses caught selling the drugs a $10,000 fine and to be shut down for 96 hours as a first offence. Repeat offenders will be fined $20,000 and shut down for 30 days followed by the revoking of their license.
“The District will not tolerate the selling of these drugs,” Bowser said upon signing the law. “This is very important legislation that will help get synthetic drugs off of shelves of D.C. retailers and off the streets.”

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier praised the efforts made by city government officials to pass the law and added that law enforcement will be vigilant in stopping the sale of synthetic drugs.

“This drug is dangerous not only to those who use it, but everyone around them. The risk is just too high for us not to be aggressive,” Lanier said.

Synthetic drugs are packaged under brand names like “K2,” “Scooby Snax,” ”Spice,” and “Bizzaro,” with dangerous side effects like suicidal or erratic behavior, seizures and even death. The illegal hallucinogens also render users to be aggressive and disorderly. 
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Archaeology Day July 18 to Dig at Yarrow Mamout Site

The fourth annual Day of Archaeology Festival will dig up both fun and facts at Dumbarton House Saturday, July 18.

Presented by the local non-profit organization Archaeology in the Community, the free event will feature family-friendly activities like face painting, live music and crafts as well as mock-excavations of artifacts.

To bring the festivities to life, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office will be nearby at 3324 Dent Place NW, the site where the current Yarrow Mamout Archaeological Project is underway. The project aims to answer the question of whether the man it’s named for, a freed Muslim slave, is buried on the Georgetown property which he owned following his 1796 emancipation. Mamout is believed to have been born in West Africa in 1736 before being shipped to Annapolis, Md., where he lived as a slave for more than 40 years.

Information sessions will be held at the property throughout the day to teach visitors about the local history behind the site and give them a glimpse into the hands-on archaeological investigation taking place, in addition to volunteer opportunities to help with the dig. The project has been in talks since 2012 and is now closer than ever to discovering the truth behind the local legend.  

The Day of Archaeology Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Professionals to Gather for Open House on K Street July 21

Local business professionals will gather July 21 for an open house presented by Summit Commercial Real Estate. The event, sponsored by Georgetown Professionals as part of their monthly happy hour occurrences, will be held at 3255 K Street NW, formerly the Cycle Life building.

Beginning at 6:00 p.m., the evening will feature food and beverages provided by Rockland’s Barbeque and Grilling Company. The event presents an opportunity for community outreach by teaming with DistrictGolf, a non-profit organization that supports veterans through their “Hit with Heros” program, which they launched this year.

Georgetown Professionals offers opportunities for sponsoring events to coincide with their monthly Happy Hour gatherings, and reach out to over 2,000 local professionals as well as over 600 firms in the greater D.C. area.

At LiLi the First, Women Come First

It has become a frustrating trend that shopping for women’s clothing has turned into a task more daunting than it is enjoyable. Ifat Pridan, owner of LiLi the First boutique, is turning that trend on its head.

Tucked inside a cozy Wisconsin Avenue space, LiLi the First is quickly making its mark on Georgetown, one month after opening its doors. The modern boutique, previously located in Vienna, Virginia, is a haven for women who are seeking a positive shopping experience and confidence boost, no matter their shape or size.

“I just want women to feel beautiful and comfortable,” said Pridan. “Clothes should not be just for women who look like models.”
Female empowerment is at the forefront of Pridan’s business, as she partners with the Women’s Center in Washington, D.C., to support local women going through any number of difficulties. The boutique’s “Fashion Support” rack features gently used, chic pieces of clothing available for grabs, with 100 percent of proceeds donated to the women’s nonprofit.

The effort is already proving to be a success, as Pridan has raised more than $1,000 in donations that go toward classes, training and counseling for local women. “I just want to help women to be stronger,” she said, adding that even under a calm exterior, there are plenty of issues a woman may be dealing with and in need of support.

Aside from the “Fashion Support” rack, Pridan often holds in-store events as a way to thank customers and celebrate fashion, with 10 percent of the events’ proceeds donated to the Women’s Center.

The fusion of chic styles, emerging designers and community outreach is enough to make LiLi the First a desirable boutique, but Pridan’s friendly, customer-oriented service is what keeps shoppers coming back for more. She creates a personal connection with customers by offering tips on pieces that would help them look and feel their best. After seeing a number of repeat customers within her first month of business, Pridan says the trust she establishes with them goes a long way and brings back what traditional shopping should be. “It’s something you can’t find online,” she said.

Pridan said she hopes to continue the success of LiLi the First’s strong Georgetown debut: “From my perspective, growing is part of every entrepreneur’s business goal.” While she doesn’t know about expansion happening in the immediate future, the next step for Pridan is to put her own name on clothing labels and delve into designing, a fitting venture for the woman behind a pioneer business.

LiLi the First is at 1419 Wisconsin Ave. NW. [gallery ids="102148,133062,133058" nav="thumbs"]

Benetton Closes Its Georgetown Doors

Benetton, the major fashion retailer that expanded across the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, has now dwindled down to one American store following the sudden and quiet closing of its Washington, D.C., store in Georgetown.

Last week, the store, located on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW, was abruptly boarded up with no explanation of its closing. The brand’s name has also been removed from the building’s exterior wall.

Though the Italian-based company still has an international presence—particularly across Europe and South America–the Georgetown closing signals the end of Benetton’s era in the American fashion industry, as its New York City store is now its lone retailer in the country.

The dwindling number of American stores can be attributed to popularity of discount clothiers and the underperforming teen-apparel market. Famous retailers, such as J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch, are closing stores. Wet Seal, which used to be across the street from Benetton in Georgetown, has closed most of its stores.

Benetton was a giant of children’s fashion, largely in part to its United Colors of Benetton clothing line. The collection boasts vibrant, colorful pieces and had garnered attention through the use of eye-catching yet somewhat controversial advertising, which aimed to promote social awareness. At its peak, the brand had more than 500 stores in the U.S.

The Georgetown Benetton at 1200 Wisconsin Ave. NW was one of the first to be opened in the U.S. by retail marketing expert Iraklis Karabassis, who brought the popular, hip fashion house to White Flint Mall, its first ever spot in America. Head of IK Retail Group in Georgetown, Karabassis opened more than 100 Benetton stores in the U.S. and Canada. He sold his Benetton operation to the Benetton Group in 2008.

It is rumored that the Japanese retailer Uniqlo, which will open a Tyson’s Corner location next year, could become the next occupant of the three-story space, which once housed the National Bank of Washington.

Le Décor: Cool Off with Cool Blue Tones

As the dog days of summer reach their peak, stay cool with furniture and décor rooted in cool blue tones. Enjoy end-of-summer barbecues with coastal-inspired outdoor furniture. Or add a pop of color to plain walls with blue decorative touches. Not just for summer, these home furnishings will create a cool ambiance all year round. [gallery ids="102274,128205,128229,128224,128193,128219,128213,128235,128185,128199" nav="thumbs"]

What’s Brewing Down in Northern Virginia?

Loudoun County, Virginia, has no shortage of local breweries, combining water, barley, yeast and hops in ways that are sure to please anyone’s palate. With the 7th annual D.C. Beer Week bubbling up Aug. 9 to 16, it’s the perfect time to try some of the crispest, most authentic and best-crafted beers in the region.

Pinpointing a single top-notch brewery in Loudoun County is nearly impossible given the 19 contenders. But, to get you started, the following establishments are well worth checking out:

Lost Rhino Brewing Company offers an extensive selection of year-round and seasonal beers to visitors, who can tour the brewery on Saturdays. Tours run every hour from 1 to 5 p.m. For $8, participants get a souvenir tasting glass and four sample fillings. Those unable to trek to this Ashburn establishment aren’t out of luck, since Lost Rhino is among the 25 regional breweries participating in D.C. Beer Week’s Blind and Bitter event on Aug. 14. Scion Restaurant, at 2100 P St. NW near Dupont Circle, will host the event, in which patrons blindly taste a hoppy brew from each of the breweries and vote for their favorite. Lost Rhino opened a second Ashburn location this year, the Lost Rhino Retreat, with a full food menu. Both have live musical entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.

Another Ashburn establishment, Old Ox Brewery, utilizes over 9,000 square feet of its building space for beer production. Old Ox has three core beers that are brewed year-round, plus a rotating selection of seasonal and experimental drinks. Tours of the production space take place Saturday afternoons on a first come, first served basis. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday. Though no food is served at Old Ox, visiting food trucks are on the premises most weekends.

In Fairfax County a selection of 22 local and regional craft beers are in store for those who visit Barrel and Bushel, an American-style restaurant and bar located in the Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner. Barrel and Bushel’s drink menu consists of lagers, stouts and ales, as well as wines and bourbon. For those looking to sample a variety of brews, flight trays are offered with four glasses of beer. Choose from one of five flights on the menu or create your own from the beers on tap.

If hard cider, with its crisp, smooth taste, sounds more appealing than beer, Loudoun’s latest micro-cidery is not to be missed. Wild Hare Cider, which officially opened its Bluemont doors last month, specializes in transforming the ripest apples from Shenandoah Valley orchards into a fresh drink to be enjoyed any time of year. Wild Hare’s tasting room is open on weekends; Saturday hours vary and Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m.

Parades, Places, Events to Celebrate the July 4th Weekend

August 7, 2015

There’s no grander party in Washington, D.C., than the fourth of July. Cookouts, fireworks, and parades are annual staples of the holiday, and there is no shortage of them in D.C. From the firework spectacular and Capitol Fourth concert on the National Mall to modern rooftop bars, there is something for everyone this holiday weekend.

Families can trek to the National Independence Day Parade as it makes its way down Constitution Avenue. The parade features a plethora of marching bands, colonial fife and drum corps, dignitaries and military members. Starting at 11:45 a.m., this is the show that kicks off America’s birthday in style.

Nearby, the National Mall is the place to be to experience the true patriotism of the holiday. Daytime festivities include a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. Beginning at 10 a.m., the reading will place Americans back to 1776, as our Founding Fathers and other key historical figures are channeled. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Archives hosts family-friendly activities like crafts and storytelling.

Situated between Third and Fourth streets along the Mall, the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival continues through July 5. Saturday’s festivities run until 5:30 p.m. and feature traditional Peruvian culture on display, including a dance performance 4 p.m. The event is free and ideal for those looking to spend their Independence Day with an exotic twist.

Before America’s most impressive firework display begins, the 35th annual Capitol Fourth concert kicks off at 8 p.m. from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Hosted by “The West Wing” actor Bradley Whitford, the event features performances by Hunter Hayes, Barry Manilow, KC and the Sunshine Band, Alabama, and more. The National Symphony Orchestra provides the patriotic score of John Philip Sousa while the fireworks boom.

For those looking to avoid the crowds of the Mall, rooftop venues can provide phenomenal views. DNV Rooftop is open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., offering a selection of beer, wine and cocktails for the party. 1905 Restaurant will host a rooftop barbecue from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., highlighting $5 beers provided through Atlas Brew Works. Tickets are $20 and first come, first serve.

One of the more popular hometown parades is the 49th annual July 4th Parade & Picnic.  The parade starts at 11 a.m., rain or shine, on Saturday, July 4, at the foot of Whitehaven Parkway and MacArthur Boulevard.  Line-up begins on Whitehaven at 10 a.m. in the order in which people appear. No registration is necessary.

Another crowd-pleaser is the Barracks Row-Capitol Hill Fourth of July parade. Line up begins 10 a.m. at 8th & I Streets, SE; parade starts 10 a.m.
For the evening’s fireworks, the Georgetown waterfront offers views of the Potomac River and the sky above the western side of the National Mall. Washington Harbour is right on the river with restaurants, such as Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, Fiola Mare and Nick’s Riverside Grille, that offer outdoor dining. Also, on the river is Key Bridge Boat, where adventurous kayakers get to see the fireworks from the middle of the Potomac.