Council Notebook

Council Notebook

New Poet Laureate

Roses are red, and violets are blue; Amy Young is out, and Tori Lane is new.

This Earth Day, Alexandria's new poet laureate will make her debut appearance as the city's newest wordsmith. Lane, an Oklahoma native who was raised in Burke, will read a poem specifically commissioned for the event. The panel charged with selecting the highly coveted position chose Lane because of her interest in fusing the worlds of art, music and poetry.

"I believe one cannot exist without the others," said Lane, who was formally introduced during a City Council meeting Tuesday night. "I really tried to emphasize that in my application."

The outgoing poet laureate said that serving as the city's official writer-in-chief has been a rewarding experience, especially judging a poetry slam with Nikki Giovanni. Young became the city's second poet laureate in 2010, following the three-year tenure of Mary McElveen. They were following in the footsteps of the legendary Jean Elliott, who was appointed the city's official "poet in residence" back in 1979.

"The most frustrating and rewarding part of this has been getting citywide programs started, like Dog Days of August or MAPP (Mapping Alexandria in Poems and Pictures)," said Young.

Graves Concerns

Most of Alexandria's architectural treasures are related to George Washington or the early days of the American republic. Many are Second Empire or Victorian. Fewer are modern, and only one was designed by renowned American architect Michael Graves. He's one of the Gotham City architects known as the New York Five, although he's probable best known as a designer for the big-box store Target.

Here in Alexandria, he designed the Beatley Central Library — although that's a distinction that may have been compromised in recent days.

Alexandria officials recently installed solar panels on the library. The effort was part of the city's Eco-City initiative, a project funded with stimulus dollars from President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The solar photovoltaic system has 180 panels spread along the library's south-facing roof sections — an addition that Graves expressed some concerns about.

"He was not thrilled with having something added to his design," said Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg. "But I think it fits in quite well."

Trashy Sociology

What does a community's trash say about its values? For participants of the recent Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, the answer to that question may be revealed in a series of labels.

At the Mount Vernon Avenue location, 358 pound of trash were collected in 37 trash bags and 40 recycling bags. That includes 200 plastic bags and 100 cigarette butts.

At the Commonwealth Avenue location, 300 pounds of trash were collected in 22 trash bags and six recycling bags. That includes 30 plastic bags and 80 cigarette butts.

The most popular brand found at both sites was the Mexican import beer Corona. Mount Vernon had a lot of Budweiser cans and Aquafina bottles. Commonwealth Avenue has a lot of Shopper's Food Warehouse plastic bags and Dasani water bottles.

"Apparently, we had a different water usage — Aquafina versus Dasani — at the two sites," said Councilman Justin Wilson, who participated in the cleanup with his children.


A story last week reported that the financial model for Potomac Yard will set aside appreciation on the real estate to fund service delivery based on what kind of property is assessed. It should have said the funding plan will leave a portion of appreciation for service delivery, which will be allocated based on what type of property is assessed.

— Michael Lee Pope