Lisa Martin

Photo: Marlene Condon

Walk on the wild side: In the weeds with Marlene Condon

Agarden’s appearance depends on its purpose, says Marlene Condon, and sometimes messier is better. “Aesthetics for me are secondary,” she says. “The most important thing is the quality of the habitat for wildlife.” Condon is a Virginia-based nature writer and photographer who has penned columns for the Daily Progress and Crozet Gazette, written for C-VILLE […]

"Lady Marmalade (Patti LaBelle)": Mixed-media collage by artist Judy McLeod

Southern showstoppers: In praise of the magnolia

“The pleasantest smell in the world,” wrote natural historian Robert Beverly of the Sweetbay magnolia in 1705, and its large, creamy white flowers are just as striking. Associated with nobility and perseverance, the more than 200 species of magnolia vie with dogwood, crepe myrtle, azaleas and camellias for the American South’s favorite plant. Thomas Jefferson […]

Birds of a feather: Local birders on the thrill of the hunt

Birds of a feather: Local birders on the thrill of the hunt

While the average person can distinguish a bluebird from a cardinal and a duck from a goose, bird-watching hobbyists, called “birders,” revel in the vastness of the avian world. “There’s a real excitement when you’re out birding,” says Myrlene Staten, membership chair for the Monticello Bird Club. “It’s like a great game of hide-and-seek.” The […]

Stephanie Murray of Ula Tortilla. Photo: Jeffrey Gleason

Three cooks serving the taste of home

Can’t find the food that feeds your soul? These women took the tongs into their own hands. Stephanie Murray of Ula Tortilla People often ask what is the meaning of “Ula,” and for Stephanie Murray and her husband, James Price, it’s part of what inspired the family’s business to begin with: their children, Uriah, Lovissa […]

Recent low water levels in the Sugar Hollow Reservoir caused some community members to voice concern. Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Bill Mawyer says the company’s strategy allows the reservoir to drop 19 feet below the top of the dam before transfer of water to Ragged Mountain is suspended. Photo by SkycladAerial

The cost of maintaining our water system

Bill Mawyer often asks a question that few can answer: Do you know where your water comes from? “Frequently in our business, people are shocked by the amount of time and money it takes to maintain a reliable water system,” says Mawyer, executive director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, the agency charged with […]

Orangetheory studio manager Kelsie Floyd works with gym members to get them “in the zone”— 84 to 91 percent of their maximum heart rate—for at least 12 minutes during every workout. Photo by Eze Amos

Boutique gyms offer individual attention

For a town its size, Charlottesville is bursting with fitness club choices. “We really have a big city-level of unique offerings here,” says Claire Mitchell, co-founder and owner of treadHAPPY, a treadmill-based fitness studio located off West Main Street. In contrast to “big-box” clubs like ACAC or the YMCA, boutique, or niche gyms, like treadHAPPY […]

Emancipation Park. Photo by Jack Looney

Park design experts start from the ground up

What should a public park contain? Swings and slides, shaded benches, a grassy picnic spot? Should there be gestures toward the region’s history, ecology and culture? Could a park be a place of encounter, of healing? In June, following their decision to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from park grounds, city […]

Kennedy Mason, Madison Cornwell and Eden Radifera meet with their teacher, John Worozbyt, about their “Diversity Makes Us Stronger” campaign at Burley Middle School. Photo: Robert Radifera

Leading by example: Kids learn to be the change

Upon their return from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., in January of 2017, local moms Kristin Clarens and Amanda Sovik-Johnston felt empowered, but also challenged. “We were just emerging from the super-foggy days of having newborns and realized that we wanted to re-engage in our community,” says Clarens, an attorney. “It felt like a […]

Ragged Branch owner Alex Toomy runs a two-part operation at his southern Ivy distillery: bottling bourbon and raising cattle. The Black Angus cows feed on a mash mixture post-distillation, resulting in beef that pairs well with, go figure, straight bourbon whiskey. Photos: Jen Fariello

In good spirits: Ragged Branch is ready to pour

On a picturesque, 92-acre hillside ranch in southern Ivy, native Virginian Alex Toomy and two partners have launched an enterprise centered on a perfect pairing: bourbon and beef. Craft distillery Ragged Branch, now open for business after five years of preparation and two more of whiskey-aging, is poised to make its mark on the Virginia […]

Located in McIntire Park, the new YMCA incorporates design elements that acknowledge its natural surroundings: floor-to-ceiling windows bring in the wooded views from the fitness room and the pool, as well as flood the space with natural light. Photo: Stephen Barling

Open for business: Brooks Y designers aim for clarity

When Piedmont Family YMCA CEO Jessica Maslaney was still a program director for the Y back in 2009, she tagged along on a tour of regional Y facilities with local VMDO architects to look at design ideas. “I think they invited me because I was an English major in college, and so I was the […]

The 79,000-square-foot building, designed by VMDO Architects, is nestled on the backside of a slope at McIntire Park. Photo by Stephen Barling

The Brooks Family YMCA is an exercise in community building

For the better part of 25 years, Kurt Krueger has harbored a vision. “I remember learning to swim as a kid at a YMCA in St. Louis,” says Krueger, a UVA School of Law graduate and downtown attorney, and a long-time supporter of the local Y’s satellite youth sports programs. “I knew that a full-service […]

Boxwood Villa, the newest renovations project from the couple behind Grelen Nursery, The Market at Grelen and Spotswood Lodge, can host weddings, family get-togethers and corporate events. Photo: Kellis Photography

Out of the box: A new event space blooms in Orange

While inspecting an array of tall boxwood shrubs on a property in the town of Orange last year, Grelen Nursery founder Dan Gregg discovered more than he bargained for. The 1891 farmhouse in the center of the ring of shrubs was for sale, and Dan immediately saw its potential as a lodging and event space, […]

Members of the Rivanna Rowing Club tout both the physical and mental aspects of the sport. Photo by Ron Paris

Ready to row: Keeping pace with the pull to stay fit

Imagine a fitness regimen that combines the fresh air of running with the low impact of swimming. A form of recreation that can be social or solo, casual or competitive, for ages 13 to 103. Housed close to the center of town yet away from traffic or hubbub, the sport requires no prior experience or […]

Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America think tank, served as director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She returns to her hometown to talk about her vision for the future. Courtesy Royce Carlton

Anne-Marie Slaughter likes to be in the middle of things

A Charlottesville native whose keen intellect and deep foreign policy knowledge led her to become the first female director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter has never forgotten her roots. She is one of this year’s Tom Tom Founders Festival Founders Summit keynote speakers, as well […]