Al Alborn

Al Alborn

The opinions of columnists do not necessarily reflect the opinions of InsideNoVa, its management or staff.

It isn’t easy being a columnist.  Every other week, I have to come up with 600 words (plus or minus a couple) addressing some topic of interest to Prince William County residents.  I like to mix it up.

I enjoy writing about life’s simple pleasures, particularly those that people may not know about.  My column about “The best BLT in Prince William”  is one of my favorites.  I have the Oak Hill Country Store on my iPhone favorite numbers list and usually call ahead.  For full disclosure, I picked up one for lunch.  A bag of chips and a Coke pair nicely with this particularly delicacy.

“The cod sandwich was delicious” was another favorite column of mine.  Aden Grocery at Aden Road and Fleetwood Drive serves this and other reliable country store fare.  I went back for a bologna sandwich.  A good bologna sandwich is hard to find.

The Jirani Coffeehouse in Old Town Manassas is definitely “A place to meet your neighbors.”   Jirani means “neighbor” or “neighborhood” in Swahili.  It has become my Manassas “office” when I want to meet with or interview someone in that part of town.

I have interviewed several people at Jirani.  It isn’t always for a column.  Some of my favorites include Coffee with Del. Lee Carter, a democratic socialist, and Ann Wheeler to discuss her task to rebuild the Committee of 100.

I’ve interviewed a few folks over the phone. Del. Danica Roam agreed to an interview while she was working in her Richmond office.   I actually called Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart to discuss “what’s next” at the wrong time; however, he was gracious enough to slip his calendar and chat for a while.  It was January.  Stewart dropped breadcrumbs about whether he would run for re-election; however, he neither firmly confirmed nor denied rumors during our conversation.  

I particularly enjoyed interviewing Beverly Hess about using the “Art as a stress reliever for veterans and others.”  She is still working on putting that program together.  If you are interested in reducing the number of veteran suicides that occur every day (recent estimates are around 22), talk to Hess about supporting her initiative.  I also enjoyed writing about the Clearwater Center for the Arts in Tackett’s Mill, and learning from Liz Holmes, president of the Lake Ridge Chorale, that it’s spelled “chorale,” not “choral.”

I usually don’t get emotional while writing a column.  But in the case of my column about Marine Corps Lance Corporal Colin Wolfe, I cried.  Colin’s mother, Amy Wolfe, is the executive director of the Manassas Ballet Theatre. She chose to remember her son using the art form to which she has devoted her life.  That was the first ballet I actually attended.  I was not the only one overcome by the way Amy Wolfe told Colin’s story.

I could have written about a lot of stuff for this column; however, I found myself in a reflective mood when facing the keyboard today. I am always humbled when someone recognizes me on the street and stops to discuss whatever was just published.  I’ll keep writing as long as I think people are interested in whatever I decide to share.

Thanks for reading this one.

Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week.  You can learn more about Al at

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