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Posted on: October 23, 2017

Celebrating diversity goal of ‘Faces of Our Region’

They’re young and no-so-young, different nationalities, races, religions and sexual orientations; some were born here, others moved here from all over the country and world.


Together they are the faces and stories of a new project from local nonprofit community help group Middle Border Forward. And this project, called “Faces of Our Region,” is intended to show the diversity within Danville, Pittsylvania County and Caswell County, North Carolina.


The project was unveiled Thursday night at the kickoff of the four-day River District Festival, with 25 portraits of people chosen out of far more interviews to represent the region, said program member Cassie Williams Jones.


Jones said there are posters of the faces all over the River District, pasted to walls of buildings on Union, Main, Craghead and Bridge streets.


Anyone with a smartphone can listen to their stories by scanning a QR code on the posters — or can access them through the organization’s website, www.middleborderforward.org.


Sheila Baynes, another program member, said all of the interviewees were asked the same questions and were narrowed down to reflect 25 stories that show the diversity of the region.


Javonte Harris, a 15-year-old sophomore at George Washington High School, said he was at a Music on Main event when he was approached about participating — and seeing his face of River District buildings.


“I love it,” Harris said. “I liked letting people know about me and how I keep myself positive in Danville.”


Joanne Roberts, of Java, participated and was waiting to see the final product with her husband, David Locklear.


The couple came to Danville after she retired from 32 years of working for Verizon and he ended his military career in Virginia Beach. They both taught for a number of years before retiring again.

Roberts said she enjoyed participating in the project and telling her story.


Tia Yancey, a program member, told the crowd gathered at the office on Main Street that when the class was deciding on a project, they asked themselves what had Danville done well.

“One answer was at the top of the list: our people,” Yancey said.


That was the inspiration for “Faces of Our Region,” with all participants asked to choose one story from their lives that defines them.


Jones said exploring those stories culminated in a diversity of thoughts they wanted to celebrate.


The decision to participate was easy for the youngest participant, Nyla McClinton, 6, of Danville.


“I had really great fun doing that. I love being on camera — it’s my favorite thing, I love smiling and being on TV,” McClinton said with a huge grin. “It’s exciting to see me on the buildings.”

Denice Thibodeau reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact her at dthibodeau@registerbee.com or (434) 791-7985.

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