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A Playground (R)evolution was held tonight

The Man behind the curtain, revealed from the Wizard of Oz
The Man behind the curtain, revealed from the Wizard of Oz

Who is manipulating your kids while playing video games? The man behind the curtain?

What happens when you send a Dayton kid from the West side to Antioch, and he becomes a school principal in a community that is a mash-up of Mexican immigrants, little Appalachia and throw in a smattering of black kids- a Social justice themed K-8 school that’s trying to change the world.

Once again, I’m writing about a friend, who happens to be a Dayton Public Schools principal- Devon Berry at Ruskin in the Twin Towers neighborhood off Xenia Avenue. Ruskin has been graced with a community action agency- East End Community Services, headed by Jan Lepore-Jennelson- a former City of Dayton director of community services. Together- they are working at transforming a once proud working class community back into a working community.

There are new energy efficient homes being built, a new playground, programs to put x-cons back to work deconstructing homes and recycling materials- and, there is a group of kids putting on an annual play- talking about the challenges facing kids today.

It’s not an easy play to watch- but, the subject is one that we’ve been ignoring in this country for way too long: our desensitization to violence. It started with TV- how many murders, rapes, shootings, beatings do we see in prime time every night? People get shot- and still manage to keep going- the season finale of Justified has Marshall Givens taking a bullet- then going to sit and have a drink with his nemesis… yep, with a bullet in him.

The kids talked about Grand Theft Auto- a popular video game where you steal cars, buy guns, sell drugs and shoot people for money. Listening to a 13 year old explain how he picks up a hooker, takes her to a dark alley for sexual favors- pays her, then shoots her to get his money back after the “happy ending” is disconcerting to say the least.

Juxtapose that story with fairy tales, cross it with reality, and throw in references to the man behind the curtain and you start to see that these kids realize that someone is playing them when they suck the time out of their lives playing these games. Toss in the part about getting health packs, reloading the game and getting your life back- vs. what actually happened last year outside Westwood Elementary school where a young girl was shot and killed on the playground- and you start to understand why if we don’t create recreation programs- and give kids ways to interact and actually play with each other- we’re breeding our own future reality torn from the screens of these violent games.

We’ve killed off our parks and rec departments, sold our community art center, given up on our community theater, and barely cut the grass at our playgrounds- yet we still find money to put kids in jail costing us hundreds of dollars a day. We teach kids to be afraid of “sex offenders” – and live in a state of perpetual fear in the city. Still believing that these things don’t happen in the suburbs.

The most powerful parts of the play included an amazing solo by a young lady who sang like Etta James- and when the girls talked about how many times grown men had accosted them or solicited them right in their neighborhood. The audience reactions after the show included words like “powerful” and “it gave me a lot to think about” (I was interviewing people with a video camera).

Unfortunately- this amazing success by a Dayton Public School- wasn’t covered by the news media- and as of right now, there are no plans to produce it again, which is a shame. But, after watching these kids- it makes me want to take our PS3 and toss it out- and, to remember to spend more time with my girls doing things that don’t involve a screen and joystick.

The play was called “Playground (R)evolution” and I’m sorry you missed it.

Please think twice about letting your kids rot their brains playing these games for the man behind the curtain.



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Not buying it at all

Where did the city of dayton get all of the money to fund these projects?  Did the money come from residents or did they again steal it through taxes from people living outside of the city?  Are residents going to pay market price for these new green homes and if not why are you supporting this form of welfare/theft?  Is there any evidence that these policies have worked in any neighborhood in dayton or anywhere else?  What happens when the obama cash runs out and the city is still filled neighborhoods that have broken roads, curbs, and sidewalks like in southpark? 


Great post David–nice change in subjects for once!  My nephew lives with my dad, and all he does all day long is play video games, watch movies and Googles–I don’t think he emails much, not sure if he’s on Facebook or Twitter; but, his bathroom is a mess!  He has a job washing dishes, and my dad is so proud of him for that.
But now he brought his girlfriend’s dog over there and I step in shit every time I mow!  (He lives with my dad- no rent, and I never had to pay rent there, either, great dad!)
He has an Associates in graphic design from Sinclair but hasn’t been applying for new jobs.  He was raised in a broken family, and his dad is dead–he was bi-polar and his mom is … nevermind …
Do we want kids of today like this to be our leaders tomorrow?
@NBIAA–come on man, why so negative, and bashing Obama again?  Do you have kids?

Robert Vigh

Dear GOD MAN!!!!!!!!!! 

I had to stop reading when you said the season finale of Justified ………………. One of the few shows I enjoy and you about wrecked my season finale!


90% of TV is fake, geez!  Glad to see Antioch mentioned in a positive way!  As for good students, I would bet some people would send their pet to school, as much as some people think their pets are human!  Just a side comment!  :-)

Ice Bandit

We’ve killed off our parks and rec departments, sold our community art center, given up on our community theater, and barely cut the grass at our playgrounds- (David Esrati)
….well, dear David, that’s a good start…..

The Ice Man

It’s a dream come true!  I have been looking for a neighborhood with ex cons, illegal immigrants, and new homes being built only because Dayton got free cash from obama.  I was also hoping for a school with a principal that went to a bombed out college for intolerant liberal zealots.  I also was dreaming of a school that would teach social justice so my kids will know that the reason that the 130 IQ white engineer that works 60 hours a week makes more than the 92 IQ, GED, arrested 7 times black janitor is because society is racist and unfair.  Honey, pack up the kids we are moving to paradise city.

Gone From Dayton

@ Ice Man, I own such a home in that neighborhood.  I just walked away from it.  Wanna buy it?!

East End and Jan Lepore-Jentleson do nothing for that neighborhood.  Check out the property that the organization owns at 130 Nassau.  I could email you pics to save a trip.  I tried for YEARS to get the city to clean it up.  East End and Queen Jan only offer excuses for the convicted felon low-lifes who live next door.  East End does nothing to take care of the property it owns.

I can’t wait for Jim Otte’s report on Monday night.  I’m sure to see my old neighborhood there.

The Ice Man


I have several friends that tried to sell me their Dayton homes several years ago as well, but no thanks.  I had a friend that lived on Wilmington Pike in between Wayne and Patterson.  The democrat criminals that run the city moved a hoard of black trash obamacrats into some free rent in exchange for not working social justice apartments several years ago.  I have been driving down that section of road many times a week for 10 years and maybe saw 5 cops total before the hoard moved in.  Now I see the police there all the time and on Saturday nights they usually have two cops assigned there as standard practice.  I had a friend that gave up on home he owned in the area and took a loss on it because the obamacrat criminal hoard eyesore killed his property value.  It used to be a great area to live in especially for young capable people before busing ruined the city.  David has no idea what needs to be done to fix Dayton.

Gone From Dayton

@ Ice Man:

I agree with most of your sentiment, but disagree as to Pres. Obama’s supporters being the cause.  Former Mayor Rhine McLin provided NO leadership for housing issues in East Dayton.

Also, Jan Lepore-Jentleson of East End Community Services Corp is the problem … not the solution.  I assure you she is no Obama supporter.  Housing started to deteriorate around 2004, when Pres. Bush and Mayor McLin were in office.  Jan claims to want to help “neighbors” find living-wage jobs but is unwilling to let go of her salary and let a qualified neighbor take over the helm of EECSC.

None of the five top-paid employees of EECSC lives in East Dayton.  How the hell is it a neighborhood association when qualified neighbors are not in paid leadership of the organization?

Jan won’t live in East Dayton.  In 2003, she bought a brand new Ryland home in Huber Heights for $243,000.  For all her public professing of “being here for the residents of Twin Towers”, what is her salary and why doesn’t she turn over East End to the “neighbors”?  If she thinks the neighborhood is so great, why doesn’t she live there?  While at East End Community Svcs Corp, she has never lived in East Dayton.

Queen Jan wants everyone to think she cares about East Dayton, housing issues, and living wage employment for the people who live there.  That’s simply not true.  Jan cares about Jan

The Ice Man

What is the name of the company that hires the ex cons and do they make money?  David should investigate and tell us all about it.  If it is another City of Dayton scam to steal tax dollars to fund a business that does not work David should be ashamed of himself.

Tired of Ignorance

“Ice Man”:

Befoe you have the gall to comment on the principal of Ruskin School and what is taught within the school, I invite you to EDUCATE YOURSELF.  Ruskin is open to visitors; come see for yourself how awful it is for students to be a part of a school culture that promotes the idea of students as “global students.”  (That is a part of the school’s “terrible” social justice mission statement, but I’m sure you weren’t aware of that.) 

Come take a look at a group of professionals committed to breaking the cycle of poverty through opening kids’ eyes to the idea that there is more out there than just their neighborhood – there is a whole world – and teaching them that they have the ability within themselves to change their stiuation and change the world. 

I find it interesting that you refer to the principal, Mr. Berry, as a “zealot”  (I drew this conclusion based on the fact that you stereotyped an entire college he attended in this manner).  If you are using the term zealot as it is defined in the dictionary: “a fanatically committed person,” then I guess you got one thing right in your inital comment. He, along with the team of teachers committed to his vision, is a fanatically committed person.  Fanatically committed to helping kids become effective citizens and open new doors for themselves. It is what Ruskin is about.  Come check it out. 


Mr. Berry better be teaching his students what a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. or an E.D. are, because they are going to need one to get ahead in the U.S.  I saw on the news where there are hundreds, probably thousands of foreigners trying to get into the U.S.  So there is going to be more competition to find work when they get to be adults, more than there is now in the U.S.

Ms. Concerned

I attended the play and LOVED IT!!! The Children are hungry. Hungry for us parents to feed them with the information of our passed! “…mommy what did you use to do outside?” my daughter asked. I began to tell her about the fun of 21tag and playing outside until the street lights came on. We all need to get out and play with our children of the world today before they go to far out of our reach! If you dont have the energy to do it, do it anyway! I remember the nosey old women that would tell on you if you did something wrong, or the one mom that would let us run in her house to get water, because if we came back in we had to STAY IN! I tell my kids all of that stuff and we all need to share that! Have a Great Life and make the world Great again.. Take back our streets.

Ice Bandit

He was raised in a broken family, and his dad is dead…his mom is … nevermind …Do we want kids of today like this to be our leaders tomorrow? (Gary)
…well, dear Gary, never mind the leaders of tomorrow. Isn’t all that aforementioned dysfunction a good description  of the upbringing of President Obama?…..

David B.

While it’s great to talk about the numerous political and economical issues that Dayton faces, I and the rest of the cast of Playground [R]evolution ask that you put a little more consideration into the ideas that we shared and the ramifications of our actions. This is a problem we encountered after our performance on many occasions, adults and children alike not seeing and hearing thoughtfully but only viewing our performance as a cute little play we managed to execute exceptionally, or ignoring completely the entire idea we were trying to convey.