Walking the Walk in Shirlington
Edie has been a resident of Shirlington for six years. "We live in Shirlington because we love to walk." This is his story.
The Living section of the Village Of Shirlington website reads, “Lovely living spaces. A quart of milk around the corner. A dog park down the street. And a running trail where you can stretch your gams.” Shirlington resident Edie Wilson echoed the value of these neighborhood attributes in a recent interview with WalkArlington guest writer/walker Terry Belt.
“In Shirlington, we walk all over. We have a post office, a UPS, a gym, and our grocery store is here. We don’t get in the car. You go out the door and try and take the dog and walk some place to do your errands, have a meal, and enjoy the flowers,” Edie said.
It was spring-like day and a staff member at one of Shirlington’s many businesses had just ducked outside around 3:30 pm to read a book on their break while lying barefoot on a bench along Campbell Avenue. Two elderly men were sitting on the bench in front of Busboys and Poets with the sun lowering in the west and shining on their faces. The warmer temperatures and the fresh air made for perfect walking conditions as I popped into Busboys to meet Edie Wilson. After our interview, we took in the view of the Four Mile Run Valley from her 10th floor condo. Then, we walked through Shirlington Park along Arlington Mill Drive with her husband and walking partner Ron Seckinger, and their dog, Snowy, an eight-year old white Cavachon.
Living in Shirlington
Edie has been a resident of Shirlington for six years. Edie and Ron lived in Alexandria for over 20 years, on the other side of Interstate 395, and they watched Shirlington transition to the village it is today. When Edie and Ron decided to sell their Alexandria house, they found a condo in Shirlington that they loved.
Ron and Edie have been walking consistently since New Year’s Day 2015 when they both got a Fitbit. The Fitbits incentivize them to meet their daily step goals. Edie does not enjoy walking inside on a treadmill so she enjoys the walkability factor in and around Shirlington.
While many people walk along the flat W&OD Trail, Edie takes the side paths which go up along the hills because it gives her a better workout, and she enjoys the old growth trees.
“We have a dog, and when you have a dog, you walk all the time. Sometimes I am in four parks in a day. I am always in at least two,” she said.
When talking about walkability in Shirlington, the subject of Arlington parks comes up because the parks go hand-in-hand (or step-in-step) with the quality of life in Shirlington. Edie serves as a Commissioner on the Parks and Recreation Commission. She also serves as the President of the newly formed Shirlington Civic Association.
Edie enjoys the pocket park system that hugs Four Mile Run Drive and the W&OD Trail, including Shirlington Park, Barcroft Park, and Glen Carlyn Park. Barcroft Park is nice because it offers more woodland than most residents might realize.
Edie mentions that getting away from cars is so important, along with finding places with beautiful trees, grass, and flowers.
She worries that as Arlington’s population grows and density increases that we will “push our parks too hard.” She adds, “People are riveted by how many baseball fields or concrete plazas designed by a developer are in Arlington but we must understand our population. We have a lot of people in Arlington who have time to walk; this includes older people.”
In her roles as Shirlington Civic Association President and Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Edie will be keeping the needs of walkers in mind. She is looking forward to being a part of the County’s master planning process that is about to begin in the Four Mile Run Valley.
“Residents have been proposing for years the need for a long-term Four Mile Run Valley vision and for ‘greening’ the center of the valley over the next 20 years,” Edie said. Having a central park in Arlington would continue “our magnificent collection of parks” along the W&OD Trail and connect them to the Four Mile Run restoration between Arlington and Alexandria and north of Columbia Pike. “If the park system connected, that would be a good thing in so many ways.”
“I think the people in Shirlington will be huge fans of the Shirlington Walkabout. We live in Shirlington because we love to walk. You can see all of my neighbors walking out from the condo building. They live here because they love being able to walk downstairs and enjoy the walking trails. They come for a meal and they stroll home, whether it is with their baby, their dog, their spouse, their friends. It is wonderful.”
Whether or not you live in Shirlington, the Shirlington Walkabout offers something for everyone, so mark your calendars for Sunday, April 17, lace up your walking shoes, and join WalkArlington for the Walkabout debut. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about Shirlington and to meet Edie, who will co-host the Walkabout in her role as Civic Association president. She is a high energy person who walks her talk. Edie is living her values–and enjoying the flowers.