Positivity Through Arts and Culture

Home. Webster’s defines home as “a place of origin”, or “one’s place of residence”. Though, we know the word home means much more than that. It is where one feels most comfortable and at peace. It is where they long to be when they are somewhere else.  It is, as the old saying goes, where the heart is.

For Jameel Austin, Danville wasn’t always home.  The New Jersey native moved to the river city when he was in junior high school. “I vowed to move back to Jersey once I graduated,” Austin said. “I did end up going back to Jersey, but things had changed. I had changed. It just wasn’t home anymore. Danville was home.”

Today, Austin is a photographer and business owner.  His photography business is Alternative Minds Photography.  “We specialize in high school seniors, headshots, and product photography,” Austin says.  “We also do fashion photography and hold family mini-sessions in the spring and fall seasons.”  This year, the company started offering video services and holding educational workshops, as well.  “Our ‘Getting Started’ workshop is geared towards the photography newbie and is being held June 10,” he said.  When he’s not running Alternative Minds, Austin works at Goodyear Tire and Rubber.

Beyond his work duties, Austin stays involved in many community activities.  “I’m a proud Middle Border Forward fellow,” Austin states. Middle Border Forward, also known as MBF, is a non-profit organization with the mission to “cultivate inclusive leadership, inspire community engagement, and create equitable access to opportunities.”  Austin continues, “I’ve also recently signed up to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, in addition to serving on the Danville Center Stage board, and I write and perform spoken word.”

Austin’s involvement in the community makes the future development of Danville a personal issue for him.  “The potential for greatness is certainly present and we, the people, possess a resilience that is unmatched,” he says.  “Danville is a ‘mill town without a mill’ so there’s the question of what it will be known for now? I’m excited and honored to be able to help in finding the answer to that question. I choose Danville because where others may see problems, I see possibilities.”

Growth and development of a city doesn’t come from one person alone. It takes a community effort.  Austin recognizes that.  “I see more community involvement. I see the culture flourishing and being embraced by not only city residents, but visitors and tourists as well. I see our college graduates returning home and finding work in their fields of study. I see our youth being affected positively by the arts and culture our city has to offer.  This city is on the rise and I love it!” And with people like Jameel Austin working to make a difference, Danville will continue to rise.