“Are you STILL in Danville?”
This question was posed to me recently by an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. The emphasis on “still” was owing to the fact that she recalls when I first arrived in 2016, I was quite sure I’d only be here for three years – just long enough to get MBF started & my oldest out of high school. To be clear, it wasn’t that I didn’t like Danville. It’s just Danville reminded me too much of my hometown & I wanted something more. I never expected that I’d find it here.
Over the past five years, while I wasn’t paying attention, a transformation took place. Not in Danville, but in me. I’ve logged countless miles on the Riverwalk Trail and visited every public park. I anxiously look forward to every new menu at Me’s Burgers and get excited when I see a delivery being made at Main Street Art Collective (because that means new goodies will be in stock soon). I’ve developed a taste for sangria (thanks to Crema & Vine) and have become quite a coffee snob (blame The Links). Whenever I’m homesick, I can stop by Mill’s Grill in Tunstall for hoop cheese & saltines or visit with Bro. Pete for a fried fish plate cooked the way my mama would have done it. I’ve adopted the practice of yoga (hearts to the ladies at Firefly Yoga Studio) and I’m probably in the best health of my life (thanks to Compassion Healthcare & SOVAH-Danville). These aren’t the kind of roots you put down in a place you’re just passing through.
When I arrived in the Dan River region, I came prepared to give, to build, to serve. And for five years, that’s what I’ve done. Still, for all my efforts, this community owes me NOTHING! It’s already given me so much! Colleagues who became mentors. Friends who became family. Memories. Lessons. Belonging. Love.
Without question, I am not the same person who drove into town on that April morning in 2016. And this is not the same place. Once it was a destination. A spot on the map. Today, it’s HOME.
PS – Be sure to follow us on social media for reflections on the evolution of MBF throughout the month. It’s been a wild ride!
t’s hard to believe, but next month Middle Border Forward will celebrate its 5th anniversary! So much has changed in our region – and the world – since we first opened our doors in April 2016. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to building a stronger future for the Dan River region by inspiring meaningful community engagement & developing effective grassroots leadership. In fact, now more than ever, we understand the critical role social capital plays in fortifying a community to withstand & recover from disruptions – such as a global pandemic, historic civil unrest & economic challenges. The past twelve months have proven what we’ve always believed to be true – the most resilient communities are those where the citizens are empowered to “be the change” they want to see and systems are designed to work together for the common good.