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‘Gen Y-NOT?’
Tour, ‘blitz’ to tap young leaders for ideas for area
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New College Institute Executive Director William Wampler (standing at left) addresses college interns and young professionals from throughout the region who recently participated in the first “Gen Y-NOT?” regional tour. They are shown in the new NCI building. (Contributed photo)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thirty college interns and young professionals from throughout the region recently participated in the first “Gen Y-NOT?” regional tour of parts of Henry County, Martinsville and Danville.

Next, they and others will be asked to brainstorm on ways to harness the community’s strengths to bring about changes during an Idea Blitz on July 30.

“I believe that these young leaders have the potential to be the change agent that can make a positive difference in our community,” said Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation.

“It is important that they get involved with finding solutions (to the area’s challenges) if they want MHC to be a community they come back to,” said Rothrock. “It is equally important that we (the community) take time to listen to their ideas and work with them if we really are looking to build a better tomorrow.”

The tour was initiated by the New College Foundation, a private fundraising arm of the New College Institute (NCI), and the Danville Regional Foundation (DRF) to help participants learn about assets of the communities.

Local stops on the tour included NCI’s new building nearing completion on the Baldwin Block uptown, the Smith River Sports Complex, Martinsville Uptown Farmers’ Market, the Virginia Museum of Natural History and Patrick Henry Community College’s Artisan Center and “fab lab” (digital fabrication laboratory).

Stops in Danville included the River Walk Trail, Community Market and Averett University’s nursing education program facilities.

Drew Pflaumer, an NCI intern working at the West Piedmont Planning District Commission, was excited to see the fab lab and other facilities at the Artisan Center.

“I never realized how much was available in that building. I wish I had seen it sooner,” Pflaumer said.

Fatgezim Bela and Chanlee Luu, two other NCI summer interns, were fascinated with NCI’s new building.

“I was surprised to see such advanced manufacturing equipment housed within NCI. It was very impressive,” Bela said.

“I wish I could have gone to school there,” added Luu, a former student of the Piedmont Governor’s School, which will be based at the building.

The tour concluded at Piedmont Arts in Martinsville, where interns received information about the Make It Happen! grants through DRF and the Pick Up the Pace (PUP) grants available through Harvest.

Young professionals on the tour were challenged to start thinking of ways to use strengths of the communities to spur changes in the region, according to NCI Communications and Marketing Director Autumn Morris.

Tour participants and other young professionals from the Henry County-Martinsville area are invited to attend an Idea Blitz brainstorming session hosted by New College Institute, Artisan Center, Piedmont Arts Yo Pros and United Way Emerging Leaders Society.

The Idea Blitz will be from 6 to 8 p.m. July 30 at the Artisan Center at 54 W. Church St. uptown. Appetizers and refreshments will be served. The event is free to the public, but it will focus on the perspectives of college students and young professionals. Anyone planning to attend is asked to RSVP to Katie Croft ( by July 23.

“Early in their careers, some young professionals may feel they have limited opportunities to shape their community,” said Croft, NCI’s coordinator of experiential learning.

“We hoped to show tour participants that the organizations and sites visited during the Gen-Y-Not Regional Tour once began as an idea,” she said. “Then, through community partnerships, contagious passion and hard work, those ideas became realities.”

Through discussions and collaborations, she said, the Idea Blitz “will help young professionals interact with their communities.”

“We also hope to educate this demographic of the resources available in the community to support and grow new ideas,” she added.

A similar Idea Blitz hosted by the DRF was held for young professionals in Danville-Pittsylvania County last week.


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