Columnist: Reston is a 'Soulless Ant Colony'

Norfolk columnist takes a jab at Reston and the citizens who may or may not want a Reston license plate. What do you think?

Virginian-Pilot columnist Kerry Dougherty probably didn't set out to take a potshot at Reston this week.

In looking through some of the hundreds of bills on the docket in the 2012 Virginia General Assembly, it's own "Work, Live, Play" license plate.

"Even this session's license-plate proposals are yawn-inducing," wrote Dougherty. "Although you have to wonder who will want to zip around with this on his car: 'Reston! Live Work Play.' Be honest, is there a more soulless spot in the commonwealth than that bland ant colony near Dulles?"

Say what? Soulless ant colony? Says who? Not Tom Jackman's State of NoVa blog. Jackman points out that Norfolk, where the Virginian-Pilot is based, has averaged 37.5 homicides per year  there since 2000.

"That’s a lot less souls, after all the shooting stops," Jackman writes. 


Reston has more than 50,000 souls (and only one murder in 2011), and I would venture to guess many - even most - souls  don't consider it an ant colony. If it were, it would be an ant colony with lakefront views, granite counters and recreational amenities.

Come on, columnist lady.

We've got public art and a Mercury Fountain. Not bland. A quirky-but-wise founder coming up on his 98th birthday. I saw him out last night drinking a glass of wine. Not bland. Dougherty needs to spend an afternoon on a deck boat on Lake Thoreau. No, no, no, not bland. Heck, at the Farmers Market. That's soul!

Has she ever read the comments section on Patch when one brings up the schools or whether Reston needs a third Chipotle or an indoor tennis place? Not bland (but could be called first-world problems, for sure).

In any case, do you agree with Dougherty? Perhaps you do feel like you are  stuck in a soulless ant colony? Or maybe you are enjoying an ahead-of-its-time New Town and are pretty pleased, regardless of whether you want a Reston license plate?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Oh, and if you want to reach out   directly, send an e-postcard from the ant colony to kerry.dougherty@cox.net.

Robert Valente January 14, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Between the Association and the political demographiics, she might have said "socialist" instead of "soulless".
Greendayer January 14, 2012 at 12:35 PM
The writer lacks any credibility being from Norfolk. It's like someone who stays home and watches TV criticizing the night life at Jackson's.
Steve L January 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I get it, she's from 757. The 703 has no street cred there. THUG LYFE!
Stu Gibson January 14, 2012 at 01:02 PM
It's a typo! She meant soulful art colony.
Mike James January 14, 2012 at 01:05 PM
We lived in Norfolk for 5 years -- and here in Reston for 45 years -- and have retired here. There must be a reason,,,
DM January 14, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I'm offended! And I was present for that 1 murder in Reston- still the best place to live! Definitely don't feel like it is a place of the soulless. Moving from a very rural over-friendly town in Maine to here hasn't been hard to transition to and I owe it to what Reston's community offers my family. Thanks Reston!
james gilley January 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Hmmm now I know why I allways have driven around NOrfolk. Hmmmm!
james gilley January 14, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I used to live in Churchland in old Norfolk County and everyone drove around Norfolk going to Va Beach...never through it. Hmmm?
Denise Henderson January 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I have lived around the country, Alaska to Maine, Hawaii to Florida and many in between, even a few years in Europe. I first lived in Reston in 75 timeframe for about two years as a little kid who would climb the stone pyramid at Lake Anne and fish for sunfish with my big brother. I chose Reston because of my wonderful childhood memories and have stayed since 2003. I usually move states or countries every 2 years. Soulful, soulless, socialist, yeah, maybe. And artsy, outgoing, hospitable, and more, much more. We have a touch of everything, we are lucky. Maybe that's why I like it. I can be me, any face of me here and it still works. I am a native of Virginia, technically, born and raised for all of 6 weeks in the beach area. Let's focus on the lover part and not the hater.
Laura Mikols January 14, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I love Reston! Love the Farmers Market! Love October Fest! "Love Your Body" Yoga Day! Girls on the Run 5K Reindeer Romps! Love "Kids Helping Kids", founded in Reston! Love the trails! The cyclists! The dogs! The restaurants! The Barnes & Noble! The Christmas Tree! The free Summer concerts! The skating rink! Reston Interfaith! St. John Neumann community! What's not to love? WORK - LIVE - PLAY ... you beautiful souls of Reston!
Marsha Royster White January 14, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Is there a more soulless spot in the commonwealth than that bland ant colony near Dulles?" Yes, Norfolk! I love Reston!
Glenn Kamber January 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I love living in Reston! It has great recreational opportunities, community ammenities, and people. Yet, in all candor, I find the expanded Reston Town Center area cold and uninviting, and possibly "without soul." Aside from the original Town Center area with its wonderful fountain/skating rink central square, I get no feeling of Reston's unique identity when I visit the expanded Town Center. Swift winds perpetually whip through the street canyons that separate one high rise from another. The so-called "Town square" at the end of Market Street is cold and unviting. Now that the wonderful arts and craft gallery is gone, all the newer stores appear to be from regional or national chains. And, while some of the restaurants are noteworthy for their food and ambiance, none appear to be owned by Restonians or reflect our special character and diversity. Reston's spirit does survive in our several smaller village centers, with their locally owned and operated eateries and shops, especially at the Lake Anne Village Center. One continues to fear their demise as the glitzy, identity-challenged Town Center lures customers away.
Carol Hurlburt January 14, 2012 at 04:12 PM
We lived in nothern Virginia in the early 1970s and couldn't afford Reston, but when we moved back to the area in 1985, we chose Reston to build our home and we've enjoyed living, working, playing and retiring here. Has Kerry even visited us? Carol Hurlburt
Holly January 14, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I grew up in Reston and have raised my family here. Soulless? Ant Colony? Bland? I think not. It is a vibrant and exciting place to live. The people are fantastic and every neighborhood that we have lived in has been full of caring, trustworthy and helpful neighbors. I would never presume to make such uninformed observations about Norfolk and I can't imagine why this columnist would make such an uninformed and judgmental comment about Reston. For the record, I am on the petition for the license plates. I do 'Live, Work, Play' in Reston and am proud of it!!!
John Hanley January 14, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Mr Valente: You wrote: "Between the Association and the political demographiics, she might have said "socialist" instead of "soulless"." What, exactly, was your point? John Hanley
Karen Goff January 14, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Glenn - I am trying to think which arts and crafts gallery you are mentioning. The GRACE gallery? Appalachian Spring? Both are still there. Were you thinking of another one?
Pat Hynes January 14, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I enjoyed Tom Jackman's response in the Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/reston-a-soulless-ant-colony-columnist-says/2012/01/13/gIQAS6FGxP_blog.html
Annie Cefaratti & Melody Novak January 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I love our Reston Community and I enjoyed so much reading each of the comments... I loved, "It's a typo she meant SOULFUL ART COLONY!" That WE are! I will be driving around with my Reston license plate as soon as I can get one! Go RESTONITES!
Catherine Baum January 15, 2012 at 01:51 AM
The store was ArtCraft - wonderful and zany
Ellen January 15, 2012 at 05:24 AM
I am lucky to live near Reston. Tons of things to do and it's pretty
Richard Holmquist January 15, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Colin, How are we doing on the number of people signed up for plates? Making progress? Is the legislation mentioned in the article an end-around the requirement for the full number of subscribers? Maybe you can remind everyone how to sign up. It would really show this lady if we actually got the license plates.
mTa January 15, 2012 at 04:36 PM
No. 9 Best Housing Market: Reston, Va. No Norfolk here... http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/20111021/america-s-best-and-worst-performing-housing-markets/slides/18
Larisa January 15, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Some people do not get it. A town that is welcoming to family and pets, with loads of beautiful landscape. It is a place with its own shelter and associated non profit to help those less fortunate. Artists, and free thinkers...yeah, sounds souless to me...NOT
Helga Torda January 16, 2012 at 12:45 AM
After being widowed in the early 1990's, I crossed the country to look for another place to live. The cosmopolitan atmosphere, natural beauty, and caring citizens of Reston influenced me to stay (25years). This town is special in America. Helen
Colin Mills January 16, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Richard: I'll have more to say about this in this week's blog, but a quick summary: I don't have the exact figures in front of me, but yes, we are making progress. We've still got about 250 to go. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Howell at RCA's request, is not an end-run around the requirement. Assuming it passes, it is contigent on our getting enough applications this year. Finally, to sign up, just go here and follow the instructions: http://restoncitizensassociation.org/license.html
Marilyn Davis January 16, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Marilyn I moved to Reston in 1978 and spent many wonderful years there until 2007. My son was raised there and still has many friends that he keeps in touch with, even though he no longer lives in this area. I always felt as if I was a cheerleader for Reston, having spent many years watching all the development around me, especially Town Center. Due to circumstances I moved to Fairfax in 2007, and am now planning to move back this summer. The first thing I will do is put in my order for a license plate!
Uncle Smartypants January 16, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I think she must have been refering to the Reston Town Center. I live, work and play in Reston and I love it, but the RTC is a play-it-safe, corporate, stodgy, faux-Disney downtown that is not only soulless, but heartless. There are a couple of pockets of cool: the Jackson's-MonAmiGabi-Passionfish Axis of Awesome, the skating rink, but other than that, the architecture, the stores, and the restaurants are about as soulful as the average suburban mall.
Myron Rosmarin January 19, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I love Reston. Anyone I know who lives here or has lived here loves Reston too. But I really have no desire to convince Kerry Dougherty that there a 1,001 reasons why Reston is awesome. I really would prefer if she didn't know so that she never comes here. I'm afraid she'll ruin it for me.
Helen Dunn January 19, 2012 at 05:12 PM
This columnist should do her homework. Check out the Reston Museum in Lake Anne for the history of Reston. One of its founding principles was Diversity. In the sixties it was one of the few communities where people with "soul" were welcomed. With no fair housing law, Reston declared itself to be an "Open Community" which threatened the funding for its development. Adherence to that principle represents more moral courage in the face of economic pressure than you are likely to find in other communities
Bill Burton January 20, 2012 at 02:49 AM
From a diversity standpoint, I am very proud of our town. In fact, some of my best friends are ants.


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