Front Porch Features

Kristen LePine's Historic Heroines

By A.E. Bayne
August 2017, pg. 11

Playwright and novelist Kristen LePine says that big projects never seem to follow a straight line.  The University of Mary Washington instructor discovered this for herself as she began writing her first novel, Daughter of Sparta. She began it several years ago as a “choose your own adventure” book for a new educational publisher, but then the book took a new direction, and LePine decided to publish it herself.  Read More

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A Fair Deal

Front Porch Magazine
February 2016, pg. 15

VCFC believes that accessible, affordable fresh food leads to healthy lives

The farmer’s markets in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and King George are burgeoning spaces, bustling with buyers and sellers during Virginia’s long growing season. What started as a collaboration between these farmers markets, The Farmers (, has blossomed into an organization working to promote local farmer’s markets and to increase local food access and affordability, connecting those with limited means with programs that will get healthy food into their hands. All of this is positive and indicative of the growth that our region, one the size of Rhode Island, has experienced over recent years.  Today, is evolving to address broader food access and food system issues.  

Global Perspectives(C

Front Porch Magazine
January 2016, pg. 25

Photography opens a Year of Diversity in Art at UUFF Gallery

A paired photography show from Seth Craig and Saeed Ordoubadi kicks off UUFF Gallery’s Year of Diversity in Art.  An opening will be held on Sunday, January 3, 2016, from 11:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., at 25 Chalice Circle in Fredericksburg. Come out and enjoy this pairing of populations, cultures, and natural habitats that span the globe.

Jus Pop'n

Front Porch Magazine
September 2015, pg. 14

Are you a salty or a sweet person?  Maybe you like a little of both.  Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find something to please at Jus Pop’n, Fredericksburg’s new gourmet flavored popcorn store.  Caroline Jipson and her son, Dominique Fowler, opened the shop in the small space next to Dragonfly Yoga Studio in the back of the Shop at 810 Caroline Street.  You might say it is the perfect location, what with its close proximity to Jabberwocky Books.  

Good Things are Found in Fred

Front Porch Magazine
September 2015, pg. 6

It’s not often you hear of a business taking off as quickly as Found in Fred.  While in the works for some time, owners Rick Jeffries and Chris Austin brought the shop to life in the span of 72 hours at the end of July: signing a lease, setting up the company, completing legal and IRS paperwork, obtaining permits and rezoning papers, and getting an inspection.  They’ve been open for a month now. With the help of Robbie Hill, a third owner who will act as shop keep for the space, Found in Fred will provide marketing plans and a second storefront for local businesses around Fredericksburg.  

Ted Schubel: Talk of the Town

Front Porch Magazine
August 2015, pg. 8

Rarely does a person choose a career at a very young age and then follow through with it. From the time he was a kid with a radio glued to his hands, Ted Schubel has known he wanted to be on the air.  Though other interests came and went, radio remained a constant.  Schubel studied English and journalism in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  His first local gig was at a Christian radio station and later with B101.5, where Schubel has hosted Town Talk ever since the first episodes aired in 2003.  Focusing on local organizations, the arts, people of interest, and politicians, Schubel views Town Talk as a vehicle for weaving a tighter community through revelations of its commonalities and humanity.  

Neat Eats: Meal Planning Made Easy

Front Porch Magazine
August 2015, pg. 15

We’ve all done it.  Every year, we solemnly vow to be more health conscious, to feel better, to get more exercise, and to pay attention to what we’re putting into our bodies.  We know it’s the right thing to do, and we glow with pride as we extol our resolve to our friends.  Then the work of doing it sets in – the daily tracking of food, slogging to the gym at zero-dark-whatever, and the limits!  The limits to our easy-going, carefree, eat-whatever-the-hell-we-want lives.  Being healthy can feel like a real buzz-kill; however, there are those among us who have discovered a way to have it all.  People like Stefanie Root, a guru of gastronomy, who has found that healthy living not only enhances one’s experiences in life, but can be easier and less costly than the life we thought we relished.

Tim Snyder's 360 Degree View

Front Porch Magazine
June 2015 (pg. 3)

Each of us develops our uniquely perceptive eye attuned to our own experiences of the world around us.  You may have recognized your own in a glimpse of light chasing dust through a dim window, or in a moment of brilliance along a green highway in the springtime.  For some, it’s movement – the fast-flung arms of a dancer or the snaking flow of a river.  For photographer Tim Snyder, it’s the electric spiral of the stars, the pop of red peppers on a cutting board, and the grind and flight of a skateboard in midday light.  For nearly ten years, Snyder has been framing and capturing shots that reveal a unique appreciation for the unassuming activities that make life extraordinary.

Photos by Tim Snyder

In Communion with Change

Front Porch Magazine
June 2015 (pg. 11)

Change.  It’s a word that strikes fear into many hearts, especially when life is strolling comfortably along minding its own business.  However, situations sometimes call for a shake-up, as Fredericksburg’s newest face about town, Reverend Doug McCusker, knows all too well.  After a long career as an IT expert for the Department of Defense, McCusker took a leap of faith into a new job as a minister, landing at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg in Chatham.

Photo provided by Rev. Doug McCusker

Ramp up Your Routine on the Rappahannock River

Front Porch Magazine
May 2015 (pg. 29)

Stretch, sweat, run, sweat, lift, sweat, crunch, sweat, curl, sweat.  Repeat.  Sound familiar?  Many people find themselves looking for ways to infuse variety into their fitness routines after a long winter of indoor gym workouts, and luckily for those of us living in and near Fredericksburg that variety is right outside our doors.  With their “Gear Up Get Active” motto, Keith and April Petersen of River Rock Outfitters fully promote the ease and accessibility of outdoor fitness options in Fredericksburg while highlighting appreciation and conservation of the area’s natural resources.  

Photo by White Water Photos 

Mammoth Jockeys: A Creative Collaboration

Front Porch Magazine
May 2015
  (pg. 19)

A traditional view of the student-teacher relationship is one in which teacher leads and student learns; however, modern theory promotes a more complementary role between the two, where teacher becomes a facilitator, and student takes ownership of knowledge.  In the best of these relationships, the two also become collaborators.  Such is the case with author and high school English teacher James Noll and his former student Grant Ervin.  Their collaborative efforts will culminate over the next year with the release of Ervin’s video game, Mammoth Jockeys.

Mammoth Jockeys Composite provided by Grant Ervin

Art of Poetry: Water Street Writing and Art Studio Celebrate National Poetry Month

Front Porch Magazine
April 2015 (pg. 3)

In celebration of National Poetry Month, local artists and poets have teamed up at Water Street Studio on Sophia Street to illustrate the ways art and writing influence one another. Come out and view their inventive collaboration and join the festivities on First Friday, April 3, 2015.  Runs through April 2015

Body Language

Front Porch Magazine
February 2015 (pg. 28)

One of Fredericksburg’s most endearing characteristics is that it is a city that embraces positivity, innovation, and ingenuity.  Whether through the arts, through education, through business, or through medicine, Fredericksburg attracts people who foster community engagement, health, and wholeness.   One such group is located off Lafayette Boulevard at Alison Sullivan & Associates.  The brainchild of therapist Alison Sullivan, a licensed clinical social worker with fifteen years experience in the field, is comprised of a team of professionals including Sullivan, certified massage therapist Janet Bradshaw, certified nutritional specialist Beth Austin, and certified yoga instructor Holly Ryan.  

Photo by A.E. Bayne - Beth Austin, Alison Sullivan, Janet Bradshaw

Natalie and Ray Davis: Love, True Love

Front Porch Magazine
February 2015 (pg. 8)

When we hear the word love, a plethora of clichés comes to mind.  It’s many-splendored, everlasting, and eternal.  Love ignites, consumes, inspires, heals, and breaks.   It lifts us up and sometimes aches.  At times, it even bites; but through all its many personifications, love – the kind you find in partnerships, in friendships, in marriages, and in familial relationships – relies on a basic foundation to endure and thrive.  Natalie and Ray Davis’ 51 years as a couple exemplifies this foundation.  They’ve been traveling the road of love together for longer than many have been alive, learning that in its simplest form love has few rules, but many opportunities for growth and wisdom. 

Photo by A.E. Bayne - Natalie and Ray Davis at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg

Made in Fredericksburg: WM Mason II Violin Shop

Front Porch Magazine
January 2015 (pg. 28)

Amati, Guarneri, Stradivarius, oh my!  Bill and Elaine Mason run Wm Mason II, a full service violin shop specializing in lessons, bow rehairing, repair work, and now, violin design and craftsmanship.  Together with six interns, the Masons hope to put Fredericksburg on the map as a premier location for affordable, handcrafted violins, violas, and cellos.   

No novice luthier, Bill Mason spent four years in Pennsylvania under the tutelage of master makers Ed Campbell and Nelson Steffy, followed by another year with master maker Oded Kishony.  Mason is on the board of the Southern Violin Association and is on the new professional program committee with the Violin Society of America. While area music teachers and musicians may know of the Masons’ shop, many locals are unaware of the evolution it has undergone since opening seven years ago.  Elaine Mason describes the shop’s progress, “We started off with repair work, and then we added the rental program.  Two of our interns approached us about making instruments, and that’s what led us to developing our own line of violins that we make here in the shop.”  Bill Mason continues, “We have started The Violin Making Studio of Virginia where we’ve put together a program that allows interns to spend three years making five instruments.” 

Photos by A.E. Bayne

The Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation’s Legacy of Hope

Front Porch Magazine
January 2015 (pg. 31)

It is often in our darkest hour that we experience true selflessness from those around us.  So it was for the Oughton family between 2005 and 2007, when their youngest, Grace, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that most often strikes children under five years of age.  It was during these two years, amidst leaving jobs and moving closer to specialty centers in Boston and New York, that the Oughtons experienced an outpouring of kindness from Alec’s coworkers in Henrico County, the likes of which they had never expected.  This culminated in the establishment of The Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation.  

Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation Mobile Lab - Photo provided by Alec Oughton


Winter Outings: Tips from River Rock Outfitters

Front Porch Magazine
December 2014 (pg. 29)

As winter numbs noses, and frigid air bites, and lungs puff a ghostly fog, we long to break our cabin fever in craggy, barren woods, staking out camps from which to watch Orion cross the sky.  With fewer insects, expansive views, and smaller weekend crowds, the winter months draw out hikers, campers, and climbers; however, weather becomes a significant consideration when planning day and overnight trips.   Brothers Connor and Keith Peterson, co-owners of the newly opened River Rock Outfitters on Sophia Street, provide the following checklist of essential planning tips to keep us safe and comfortable during outdoor winter adventures.  

Photo by April Petersen - Winter Outing Wear from River Rock Outfitters

Steve Watkins: Ghosts of War YA Literature

Front Porch Magazine
December 2014 (pg. 8)

Steve Watkins has made a lasting impression on me with his ability to develop characters with authentic voices.  Certainly, his stories are well researched and written with a keen and dynamic fluency, but it is his cast of young characters that have the same interests and conversations as my own teenaged students that has captured my interest.  In each of his previous books, Down Sand Mountain, What Comes After, and Juvie, Watkins has extended a level of respect to his young protagonists that is lacking in many young adult novels.  His characters have overcome realistically serious conflicts, and Watkins has proven through their development that he trusts them to be up to the challenges.  

When Watkins revealed last year that he would be writing a paranormal war series for Scholastic, I was eager see the concept come to life in the first installment, Ghosts of War: The Secret of Midway.  Watkins says he was honored when Scholastic approached him to write the series.  With only a couple of pages of notes as starting point, he developed a longer treatment and has since worked on four of the volumes, the fourth of which involves The Battle of Fredericksburg.  

Race Relations Coalition: With Open Minds and Open Hearts

Front Porch Magazine
November 2014 (pg. 11)

Protests in Ferguson, Missouri this summer prompted many people to closely consider the realities of racial inequalities within their own communities.  Ferguson showed us that all is not well, that fear is still a factor in our interactions with one another, and it inspired some toward positive action in our own area.  The Fredericksburg Area Race Relations Coalition, in partnership with Virginia Organizing, will hold its first Town Meeting on November 15, 2014, between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Shiloh Baptist New Site on Sophia Street in Fredericksburg.  The event is free to the public, but registration is requested.

Photo provided by Lee Criscuolo -  Eunice Haigler and Lee Criscuolo