Weekend Getaway: Renewing Your Spirits in Purcellville

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Whether you’re looking for a throwback to simpler times or something a little stronger than Virginia’s award-winning wines, Purcellville should be on your must see list.

I have 50 unread emails, a page long to-do list, a project deadline at noon, and my co-worker just spent precious time editing my email text to change 6:00 p.m. to 6pm. That’s what’s important at this moment?! At 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

The only way to survive the week is to plan for the weekend. I check for ridiculously cheap flights to a Caribbean island. There never are any.

Plan B -- day trip.

I need to get out of town and escape this circus. I text a friend, and we throw out suggestions for anything within an hour’s drive. The easy decision is a winery, and there is no shortage of great wineries close to Alexandria. But where do you go when you’re looking for something a little different? Or maybe something a little stronger?

Purcellville, VA.

As we drive in to historic downtown Purcellville on Route 7, I feel like I’ve stepped back to a simpler time, onto the set of The Andy Griffith Show.

The local library is on the left, a gun store on the right, and there’s even a diner on Main Street for burgers and shakes. Various collectibles spill out from the antique store and onto the sidewalk--rusted milk jugs, iron tables, painted benches. My heart begins to slow and my mind relax. I take a deep breath. The air is crisp, clean ... and quiet. No sirens. No motorcades. No honking horns. Peace.


Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W. Main St.
Purcellville, VA 20132
540.751.8404
Hours: Mon - Closed
Tues-Thurs - 1-5pm
Fri - 1-7pm
Sat - 12-7pm
Sun - 1-6pm



Across the street from the burgers and shakes sits a renovated 1920s garage, red brick with large windows to let in the sunlight. This is Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, where Becky and Scott Harris have been making award-winning whisky, gin and brandy since 2009. Their flagship Roundstone Rye is Virginia’s most awarded whiskey!

We walk in to a bright and wide open tasting room. The exposed ceiling and metal accents give it an industrial warehouse feel. We find seats at a large rounded bar at the back and are greeted by the bartender.


“How are you doing today? Thanks for coming in. Where are you coming from?”

After making time for some small talk, he begins to explain the tasting options. He lets us know we can do a straight spirits tasting or a mini cocktail tasting. We opted for the mini-cocktails, one each with the Mosby’s Spirit, the Roundstone Rye and the Watershed Gin. It was like watching a mad scientist work as you watched him pour and blend each drink. Then, he walked us through how each is made - the ingredients, the barrels, the notes and noses. While you’re there, you can also enjoy a 30-minute tour of the distillery to learn more about how Catoctin Creek makes their internationally award-winning spirits.

As we casually sip our cocktails and continue to talk with the staff, we also learn a bit more about Purcellville and get some suggestions for where to go next. For us, there was no question about what goes best with the warm caramel and maple flavors of a good whisky -- slow-cooked barbecue.


Monk’s BBQ
251 N. 21st St.
Purcellville, VA 20132
540.751.9425
Hours: Mon - 5-10pm
Tues - 11:30am-10pm
Wed-Thurs - 11:30am-11pm
Fri-Sat - 11:30am-12am
Sun - 11:30am-9pm


From the Catoctin Creek Distillery, we followed our noses down North 21st Street about two blocks to some of the most mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone barbecue we’ve ever tasted. Monk’s BBQ is another small, family-owned business. Brian and Kirsten Jenkins started Monk’s as a food truck in 2011. You may have run into them at some of the area wineries on the weekends. They opened this permanent location in Purcellville in 2014.

As we walk up to Monk’s, it looks like a large, white and weather-worn barn, with piles of firewood stacked high outside and a lone guy manning the smoker. I think I want to bottle that barbecue smoker smell and bring it home as a candle. There’s nothing like the smell of good brisket to bring you back to a slow, fall saturday with your favorite college football team playing on the TV and a cool breeze blowing outside.

Monk’s is a no fuss, authentic barbecue joint. The brisket and pulled pork lived up to the incredible smells outside -- so tender and full of flavor. And don’t forget to order the collard greens. The vinegar and pork flavors are a perfect complement to the smoked meats.

We sit at Monk’s for a long while, eating, chatting and laughing. For a moment, we forget about the circus of work that awaits us only an hour away. We feel like we’re on Aunt Bee’s front porch without a worry in the world and everything important right in front of us -- good food and good friends.   

Reluctantly, we make our way back to the city late in the afternoon. But, we keep a little of that Purcellville spirit, and spirits, with us to carry us through the next week. In a few days, we’ll plan our next Virginia weekend getaway, assuming of course that there’s not a huge sale on flights to the Caribbean.

So what? What's the big idea with International development?

International Development suffers from an identity crisis. It means so many different things to so many different people – differences in industry from healthcare to agriculture and differences in program and financial approaches from philanthropy to market-based investments. It’s no wonder communicating the value and success of international development is difficult and confusing.

How do you balance devastation and hope? How do you show dire need without exploiting the victims or without making the problem seem insurmountable? How do you show growth and success and also convey that there is an Everest-size mountain of work still to be done?

Discussions on how best to tell the development story have happened for decades. Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn took these discussions to a new level about five years ago with their book A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. USAID has made storytelling a top priority for at least the last three years. (I helped train USAID Communication Specialists on this very topic over the last year.) The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is doing the same.

During their 2019 annual conference, the Society for International Development added their voice to the mix and spent a majority of the event focused on communication, including sessions on Communicating to Drive Action and Writing True Stories that Matter.

There are two questions that came up consistently during the conference. These are two questions that every development story should address if you want it to inspire your audience and motivate them to take action for your cause.

  • So what?

    This question is personal. The answer will change with each audience. You need to identify how your program, how your cause relates to an individual audience member. You need to establish a connection, some context, and relevance. You need to give a face to your cause and explain how that individual is just like your audience member. Not everyone will understand poverty or hunger, but everyone can understand being a parent or caregiver and wanting to protect a child. The answer to So What is also the answer to What Does This Mean for ME?

  • What’s the big idea?

    This question is about dreams. The answer is your big picture, your mission—growing democracy, eliminating cancer, saving lives. Inspire your audience and show them they can be part of something grand. Grand AND achievable. The audience needs to believe the dream can be a reality. They need to know that investing their time and money isn’t futile. If the dream is unachievable, the problem insurmountable, the audience won’t join you on the journey.

Somaliland-Ethiopia-Woman-Walking-for-Water .jpg
Severe drought and a large-scale food crisis plagued east africa in late 2011-Early 2012, the worst in 60 years according to the un. women and children walked all day to collect water for their families, if there was water to be collected. after the initial emergency relief, the organization i worked for turned its focus to sustainable solutions—supporting local communities to build large water storage reservoirs. easy access to water allows a community to grow crops and care for livestock during the dry season. water allows a community to survive the dry season.  ( Photos: Melissa Price. Somaliland, ethiopia. feb. 2012. )

Severe drought and a large-scale food crisis plagued east africa in late 2011-Early 2012, the worst in 60 years according to the un. women and children walked all day to collect water for their families, if there was water to be collected. after the initial emergency relief, the organization i worked for turned its focus to sustainable solutions—supporting local communities to build large water storage reservoirs. easy access to water allows a community to grow crops and care for livestock during the dry season. water allows a community to survive the dry season.
(Photos: Melissa Price. Somaliland, ethiopia. feb. 2012.)

Ambassador Rick Barton had one of my favorite quotes of the day. I’m paraphrasing, but the sentiment was, “The U.S. has the opportunity to bring peace to the world. This is why we do international development.” This is one of the biggest ideas—that everything we do, everything we work on together, in international development has the potential to bring world peace. Wow! I’ve never thought of it that succinctly, or on that scale.

That excites me, and I’m sure a number of other development professionals. So, how do we throw open the doors to our sometimes insular community and bring in new energy, new ideas, new people to this amazing work. Let’s answer their questions. Let’s answer the “So what?” and “What’s the big idea?”

How do you do this? How do you tell the development story? What are your best storytelling tips? Leave a comment here, or tag me in a comment on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Strings Attached

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The concentration and productivity of knitting are just what some inmates are looking for, says instructor Sheila Wright Rovelstad, Maryland, whose Knitting Behind Bars course at the Dorsey Run Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison of 500 men in Jessup, Maryland, routinely has a waiting list. Her class gives them the tools to learn not only how to knit, but how to connect. “Knitting brings Zen and peace,” Sheila says.

*Strings Attached originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of The Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

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In today’s 24/7 world, our minds are constantly racing with information about the next meeting, the next project, or the next deadline. We place productivity over purpose and results over relationships. This behavior can lead to anxiety, tension, a lack of civility, and a lack of trust -- a toxic environment that directly influences an organization's bottom line. How do we change these toxic behaviors and improve our workplace culture before it's too late? 

*Submitted as part of The Protocol School of Washington’s 2017 National Business Etiquette Week contest.

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