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Alexandria Celebrates “Bike to Work” Day As Affordable, Efficient and Environmentally Friendly

Just on the heels of being named as the top walking city in Virginia, Alexandria will recognize national Bike to Work day on Friday, May 16th. Thousands of cyclists across the area will celebrate bicycle commuting as an affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly way of getting to work. It will also demonstrate that the region’s transportation network makes cycling in Alexandria and the greater Washington metropolitan area a feasible and safe travel option.

More than 20 “pit stops” will be available to the commuter cyclists. In Alexandria, the pit stop will take place from 6:30am to 8:30am at Market Square in the heart of Old Town (301 King Street). Cyclists will receive free food, beverages and a variety of services from local businesses and sponsors. A Metrobus will be on hand for cyclists to practice loading and unloading their bikes. Bikes are also permitted on Metro trains.

Alexandria participants will have a chance to win several grand prizes as part of a raffle that will take place at 8:00am. Those prizes include:

So what are you waiting for? Shimmy into your riding shorts, strap on your cleats, grab your helmet and let’s get going!


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Bungalow is Newest Addition to Eclectic Shopping on Del Ray’s Mt. Vernon Avenue

What started as a personal quest for “appropriately scaled and eco-friendly furniture” in his Rosemont bungalow, has turned into a sleek new home decor shop on Del Ray’s Mt. Vernon Avenue for Daryl Wakeley. After years as a magazine designer, Daryl’s finely honed aesthetic is now focused on building a collection of decidedly interesting and luxurious home goods.

Located in the center bay of a long vacant commercial building renovated to accommodate three shops, Bungalow Homewares Gallery is a perfect addition to the neighborhood. Bungalow juxtaposes industrial chic with , among other things, sheets and towels made of organic cotton in sweat shop free conditions, Ethiopian bed covers made by a women’s cooperative; cork branch votive holders; and vintage rice winnowing baskets.

One of my favorite items was a set of tumblers made from the bottom half of recycled wine bottles. After the cut edge is polished to a rolling smoothness, each tumbler is filled with soy wax and topped with a paper collar embedded with wildflower seeds that can later be planted. There are a variety of scents but the lemon grass was special.

Most of the items have a “back story” and Daryl is happy to share the origins of both the product and the artisans. For instance, just inside the front door (and in front of a sofa I have my eye on) is a coffee table made from re-cycled iron and Honduran pine. As part of the coffee industry in Honduras, pine trees are planted to shade the young coffee plants. When the trees become too large they are harvested and recycled into furniture and other items.

Another story involves the blankets made from a woman-owned business in Ethiopia. The blankets are woven on traditional looms which are quite narrow, so for larger pieces – like the very American king size bed – the pieces have to be stitched together by hand. The stitching adds yet another dimension to these one of a kind pieces.

When asked about prices Daryl offered this considered reply: while indeed he has things that might be bought without hesitation, other pieces are what he calls “aspirational.” Water-based or soy emulsion paints in 12 colors are also part of Daryl’s design offerings and large, 18 x 18 panels are available as samples for interested customers.

Open just two weeks, Daryl is already in sync with the rhythm’s of Del Ray and will celebrate this year’s First Thursday with a reception for Jill Saxton Smith. Her exquisite woodblock prints are the first of what will be a series of rotating gallery exhibits. The exhibit runs from May 1 to July 31.

Now that you’ve read about Bungalow, go visit for yourself at 1901 Mt. Vernon Avenue. You’ll be glad you did.


Thanks to my spouse and managing partner who does all our shopping. Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 55 Comments »

The King St. Trolley is a FREE Ride for Tourists and Alexandria Residents

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley , ding, ding, ding went the bell . . . seven days a week from 10:00am to 10:00pm the clangs and bells of the Alexandria City trolley can be heard up and down King Street

Offered by the city as a way to encourage tourism, manage congestion and reduce mobile transmissions, the red and black trolley cars are a welcome, and seemingly natural, addition to the streets of Old Town.

Originally designed in conjunction with the City’s National Harbor initiatives, the trolleys will compliment the water taxis that run every 30 minutes between the Old Town waterfront and the new Gaylord National Hotel at the foot of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince Georges County.  The National Harbor project is expected to bring hundreds of new visitors to Alexandria with the FREE trolley service benefitting tourists, residents and businesses alike. 

Four trolleys will circulate approximately every 15 minutes between the waterfront and the King Street metro, stopping about every two blocks, at signed stops, to pick up and drop off passengers. 

The service is FREE (we just can’t say that enough) and there is no limit to the number of times you can get on and off.  

Previously, transportation from the Metro Station to the heart of Old Town meant a cab, a 15 block trek, a bus or, if you were driving, a fruitless hunt for parking.  Now, visitors and residents alike will have a FREE, easy to use, alternative.   

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley, ding, ding, ding went the bell . . . check it out!


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 4 Comments »

NO MORE BAGS! This Woman’s Small Contribution to the Environment and Green Living in Alexandria

I used to be known as the Bag Lady.  And it was true, I never met a bag I didn’t like.  My particular love was bags for work and travel – I was always on the prowl for the PERFECT bag – but then it spilled over to gift bags, grocery bags, department store bags, specialty bags, etc.  Bags were good!

But no more.  I’m not sure when the turning point came but I suddenly realized that the bags in my house, especially the plastic bags from the grocery store, threatened to take over.  Or maybe it was when I found out that margarine was made from petroleum products – the same products used to make plastic bags.  Yuck  – what a great reason to go back to butter (surely Paula Deen knew this all along) – AND cut down on the number of barrels of oil purchased every year.  This analogy might not hold up in an economics course but it works for me.  Besides, the WorldWatch Institute’s report, Oceans in Peril, noted that “Disposable plastic bags can linger in the environment for more than 1,000 years” and are the major debris found on ocean seabeds, particularly in coastal areas.  Head’s up for all you beach lovers out there.

It doesn’t help either that I am not a good grocery shopper.  I don’t go once a week with a complete list like all the magazines say I should.  Nope, it’s more like once a day, buying what we need to get us through dinner and into the next morning.  Sometimes it’s just for cat food for Mac.

 This is an 18lb cat whose stomach knows no boundaries.

The drugstore is the same way.  One tube of mascara, one bag.  One pack of toothpaste, one bag.  WHY????? I politely started saying NO, no thank you.

Then I went to my local Giant (locally owned and operated until just a few years ago).

The bags, a bit short and stubby, but a nice bright blue with white lettering, were sitting at the end of the check out lane.  Ninety-nine cents and I wouldn’t have to throw anything away!  I came home with three fabric bags, immensely proud of myself.

Next stop Trader Joe’s.  Fabulous!  Their bags are tall (all the better for baguettes), substantial and come in a variety of colorful patterns and scenes.  Bag buyers could even register for a drawing for a free bag chocked with Trader Joe’s goodies – not bad for a 99 cent purchase. 

Whole Foods (or as a friend of mine calls it, whole paycheck) offers a bag similar in style and size to Trader Joe’s along with a three/five/or even ten cent rebate each time you use the bag.  They have also set a goal of being completely plastic bag free by April 22, 2008, Earth Day.

That committment alone will save 100, 000 million plastic bags from entering the environment.  Whole Foods will continue to offer an environmentally sensitive option when needed, a 100 percent recycled paper grocery bag.

I haven’t checked out Safeway, Harris Teeter or Balducci’s yet (they just aren’t in close proximity) but will put it on my to-do list.   I’d love to hear from any of you out there who have found other stores – grocery or otherwise – offering these specialty bags.

Buying the bags is easy and using them the first time is a proud moment.  The hard part – REMEMBERING TO TAKE THEM INTO THE STORE EACH TIME!  It’s just all part of the re-education process and I’m still in grade school.

Virginia Amos

Our guest author today is my spouse, manger and all round good friend.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 8 Comments »

Alexandria Ranked as One of Top 50 Greenest Cities by Popular Science Magazine – Public Transportation is a Key Factor

Popular Science magazine has named Alexandria as one “America’s 50 Greenest Cities” – localities that were cited as leaders in implementing rapid and successful environmental actions.  Scoring a possible 15.7 points out of a total of 30, Alexandria came in at number 30.  Portland, Oregon topped the list at number one and Greensboro, NC landed on the other end at number 50. 

The magazine used raw data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide, which collected survey data and government statistics for American cities of over 100,000 people in more than 30 categories, including air quality, electricity use, and transportation habits. 

Use of public transportation and carpooling was significant for Alexandria.  Proximity to the Metro is often a determining factor for house hunters and apartment dwellers as are the express buses that make direct runs to the Pentagon and into the District. 

Want to know more about Metro accessible neighborhoods?  Give me a call at 703.548.0938.

Thanks for stopping by,


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 23 Comments »

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