Cynicism is the habit of expecting the worst from people, and as the worst from people is generally what makes news, we here at the Dallas Observer tend to get a bit of shock when our annual People Issue rolls around. As we begin the job of looking out over the city to find 20 individuals who give their best to make Dallas a better place, we learn again that the problem isn’t finding 20 names. It’s paring the list back from countless numbers of people who deserve to be celebrated.

Who says a good man or woman is hard to find? Well, we do, most days, but we’ve been wrong before.

We’re not just talking about do-gooders — though there are plenty of those — but artists and chefs and storytellers and organizers who do good, creative work to make Dallas a varied, exciting place to be. You’ll find all sorts of the former type here, too, from advocates who work on behalf of both rape victims and prison inmates, to lawyers fighting for immigrants fleeing violence, to an imam who patiently and peacefully works to bring a better understanding of Islam to our community.

It’s an interesting group, captured in telling, vibrant portraits by photographer Can Turkyilmaz. With only 20 people for the issue, we haven’t even begun to give you a full picture of all the good, worthy souls doing their best for Dallas.

photography by Can Turkyilmaz