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Downtown News

Catching the Curve: Community Support in the Time of COVID-19

April 8, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

By Katie Mitchell — As you’re well aware, downtown Harrisonburg’s response to the COVID-19 has been swift, thorough, and multifaceted. People of all backgrounds and businesses of all kinds are putting their heads and hearts together to innovate ways to keep local businesses afloat and Harrisonburg residents healthy and supported. As one business after another announced changes to their regular hours, curbside service, or closures, HDR threw together a directory to organize all that information. Businesses have begun offering their space for COVID-related  community needs, and ordinary people have organized grassroots initiatives to promote local business and advocate for residents who are struggling to make ends meet. During a time when we are physically isolated from one another, the heartache of this collective struggle vibrates in a way that brings us closer together. more

Friendly Faces of the Friendly City: Luke Watson

April 2, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

By Katie Mitchell / Photos by Philip Meador: Like other subjects of this series, I’ve “known” Luke Watson for years. He is the man running around Clementine doing everything, the guy who waves a friendly hello when I see him at local concerts, the dude who owns that dumpling truck. And although we occupy the same space fairly frequently, I couldn’t really tell you who Luke is. Now I feel a bit more informed.  more

Friendly Faces of the Friendly City: Cy Khochareun

March 25, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

By Katie Mitchell / Photos by Philip Meador: If you’re a regular downtown, you’ve likely been to Beyond Restaurant Pho and Sushi by now, located in the space once occupied by Spanky’s, sharing West Water Street with other inspired restaurants like Bella Luna, Cuban Burger, Sabor a Mexico, and the Harrisonburg classic, Finnegan’s Cove. But before Beyond, there was Taste of Thai, located on South High Street. And what came before Taste of Thai is a long and moving story of a family from Laos.  more

Pale Fire Brewing Company Launches “Pale Fire Helps” Food Bank Resource to Support Restaurant Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 24, 2020 by Jeslyn Stiles

March 24, 2020 -- Harrisonburg, VA -- Pale Fire Brewing Company is teaming up with Sysco, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, and Digital Minerva for “Pale Fire Helps,” a food bank resource to support restaurant workers during the COVID-19 crisis. more

Regional COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce Formed

March 19, 2020 by Andrea Dono

March 19, 2020 [Harrisonburg, VA] -- Regional agencies and organizations have teamed up to coordinate support and resources for businesses in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham area. The Regional COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce started meeting weekly to brainstorm ideas, curate resources, share information, and unify their efforts as they address business and employer concerns. more

NewBridges Immigrant Resource Center Brings the Taste of the World to Downtown Harrisonburg

March 10, 2020 by Andrea Dono

NewBridges Immigrant Resource Center's annual Taste of the World celebration is coming back to Downtown Harrisonburg this year on Saturday, March 21st at First Presbyterian Church! Ahead of the festivities, we had a chat with NewBridges' Communications and Development Coordinator Abigail Bush-Wilder to learn more about this delicious fundraising event and how it supports the great work NewBridges does in our community. more

Friendly Faces of the Friendly City: Bahir Al Badry

March 2, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

Bahir Al Badry’s art studio sits perched on the 2nd floor of Oasis Fine Art & Craft with a bird’s eye view of the gallery and shop below. Like any nest, it is a place of comfort and creation. Music drifted upwards as I climbed the stairs to meet Bahir, and on entering his space I found myself surrounded by color, meaning, and intensity.  more

Rocktown Kitchen: Food, Wine, and Love in the Historic Ice House

February 28, 2020 by Guest

By Kyle Kirby / Photos courtesy of Rocktown Kitchen: Since opening on May 17th, 2017, Rocktown Kitchen has quickly become a downtown Harrisonburg staple. Owners Kristo and Mira Papa have paid meticulous care in ensuring that their guests feel right at home. more

The Making Space: Monthly Art and Community at the Lucy F. Simms Center

February 24, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

By Katie Mitchell / Photos by Philip Meador: Remember that Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille, the one where a rat lives inside a chef’s hat and shows the chef how to cook? The idea of rodents anywhere near my food is repulsive, but somehow I found myself loving those little scoundrels by the end of the film. The best part, of course, is when the food critic Anton Ego finally relaxes and reveals a covert truth: “In the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” He admits, at last, what renowned chef Auguste Gusteau stated at the beginning of the film, that “anyone can cook.” Those words are a distant shout to the ordinary guy who aspires to greatness, arriving only as a barely audible yet soul-stirring whisper: JUST TRY. So often a fear of failure or criticism keeps us from trying something new. But the creators of Harrisonburg’s Making Space sincerely believe anyone can create, and they invite you and everyone you know to check your fears at the door and enjoy a couple of hours of free, low-stakes art-making. more

VISIONARIES: A Changing the Narrative Art Project

February 18, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

When you see Zaharia Ford-Byrd’s painting, currently housed in the Arts Council of the Valley’s Smith House Gallery, of a Stars and Stripes wrecking ball slamming into a bright, colorful, enlivened house, you might recall artist Hugo Gellert’s image of a strapping, muscular man wielding a sledgehammer over the quaint town beneath him. Gellert’s image, however, was used in a 1946 pamphlet titled “THIS IS IT,” generated by Norfolk’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority to promote the “creative destruction” involved in urban renewal initiatives. The simultaneous resemblance and contrast of these two images highlights an urge to conveniently blur the line between progress and violence. Hearing the voices of the urban residents on the receiving end of the wrecking ball lends the balance needed to understand the consequences of urban renewal and opens a space where it’s possible for healing to begin.  more