Loudoun100, the 2017 event that celebrated some of the county’s everyday heroes, is back—but with a twist.
Aliyah Dastour, owner of headshot and videography company Alimond Studio in Leesburg, created the program last year that recognized 100 local people—business owners, nonprofit leaders, parents, teachers, and even a couple of kids. She received 600 nominations over a 12-week period and, with the help of a committee, painstakingly narrowed them down to 100. Those chosen were featured in a hardcover-bound book and video, and recognized at a special event last September.
Dastour said the event, and the idea of recognizing locals who don’t typically make headlines, was a hit. The tough part was leaving so many stories untold.
“There were so many great people nominated, I want to bring more of these stories into the community,” she said. “The goal is to connect Loudoun through conversation and tell stories through our camera lens.”
Her company is shooting, editing and releasing a video every week on the Loudoun100 Facebook page that tells stories of everyday Loudouners. The first episode features Donald Virts, whose hydroponic farm in Purcellville is blazing new trails in the agriculture industry. His dream is to one day see hydroponic greenhouses atop Loudoun’s data centers.
The second episode, released last week, tells the story of Katie Fallon, founder of equine therapy farm Bridle Paths. She’s on a mission to help each client reach their personal goals, with the help of a team of horses. “It’s become one of the most rewarding things I can ever imagine,” Fallon says in the video. “I think the big message would be that you are enough exactly as you are.”
Dastour and her team of videographers have filmed 10 more videos and have several others lined up to shoot. The two- to three-minute episodes feature artists, charity volunteers, musicians and farmers. Dastour said she wants to tell stories of the bikers who pull up to Leesburg’s Downtown Saloon on weekends and the families who call some of the more low-income, often little-known corners of the county home.
“We’re trying to focus on the lives of a wide variety of people. I want to include all parts of Loudoun County and do it in an intriguing way,” she said. Her passion, she added, has always been on bringing normal individuals to the forefront, inviting them to talk about the challenges they’ve overcome or simply about a typical day in their life.
“I don’t necessarily consider myself a photographer,” she said. “I consider myself a people person—a humanitarian—and photography is my tool.”
There’s so much divisive news right now, especially in the national, 24-hour news cycle, Dastour added, she wants to tell those meaningful, uplifting stories that play out right in her backyard. “This will be a central, constant place where people can go to hear great stories about their neighbors.”
View Loudoun100’s videos at Facebook.com/Loudoun100, where a new episode will be posted each Wednesday. Ahead of each release, Loudoun Now will highlight the upcoming episode right here and at LoudounNow.com.