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Danville is turning to a unique method to gather feedback on 20-year plan

City of Danville Facebook Page

Plan Danville is what that Southside Virginia city is calling the process of creating its new 20-year plan and city leaders are trying to get more people from historically marginalized communities involved in the effort.

Danville's North Union Street was once a thriving center of African American owned businesses. But like so much of this city fell it on hard times. Now with Danville anticipating a brighter future, planners are hoping a simple storefront on North Union will play a role in shaping what's to come. Roshay Richardson is one of a group of community ambassadors working on behalf of Plan Danville.

“We had to think outside the box because we know previously whatever we were doing wasn't catching everybody," Richardson says. "We weren't collecting everyone's story. Everyone couldn't see themselves in the plan.”

That out-of-the-box thinking led to the Plan Danville Storefront. It's a place where Richardson and her fellow ambassadors help people tell and record those stories and make sure their feelings are known in the offices a few blocks away where the 20-year plan will be written.

“I think in the past they just haven't felt heard," says Richardson. "As the community ambassadors, we are already in our communities doing this work. And so now you're talking to someone that you already trust. I think people are more hopeful and so we want to make sure we carry that all the way through.”

As for what most people are saying the new plan should address – she says it's affordable housing and accessible medical care.

Fred Echols is a producer/reporter for Radio IQ.