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Do we need permission to dream in Dayton?

I spent yesterday lunch at Clay Mathile’s gift to the region- an amazing, inspiring, thought provoking complex called Aileron [1], up near Tipp City. Just from the drive through the gates to the parking lot (complete with electric car charging stations) you start to relax and your attitude adjusts. It’s filled with spaces to brainstorm, research resources at your disposal, and really great cheerleaders to help you work on your business instead of in it.

It’s a place to dream, plan, and set a business on the right course, and we’re lucky to have it. It’s also one of the few pieces of remarkable architecture that I’ve seen built in the area. Thank you, Clay.

The person I went there with, was fellow blogger, social media expert and blue sky thinker David Bowman. Who happened to write this post about getting permission a few days ago- and it echo’s my thought about how we select leadership in Dayton- and how we fail.

“Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.” Eight simple words conveying so much meaning.

Perhaps this refernece to Orville resonates with me because of my attachment to Dayton – a place where you see the Wright Brothers referenced so often you might think they were still alive and represented by an exceptional PR firm. I attended a University named for them. I see a replica of their plane flying out of an airport named for them about once a week near my home. I see references to them on water towers, and parks and in the name one of the largest military installations in the world in Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

The thing that is so important about MacKenzie’s words to me is the idea that Orville Wright and his brother Wilbur did not need permission to change the world. They needed creativity, passion, and persistence. Luckily for us, they had an abundance of all three.

Their idea was not widely embraced at first. They did not care. Their idea did not have huge corporate funding. That did not stop them. Their idea had never been done. That inspired them. Their idea was risky. They believed in it. Their idea failed many times. They knew it could succeed. The Wrights did not have “permission” to fly. They did not need it. They wanted to fly and committed to making it happen.

via Orville Wright Did Not Have A Pilot’s License | davidebowman [2].

Having to ask permission of the powers that be, be it the Democratic Party, the existing elected, the unions, or the power brokers with money (FKA the Boys in the backroom club), it has failed us.

It’s how we end up without multiple candidates for every office (they are called primaries elsewhere- here we try to skip them). It’s how we scare business away- because without permission to try new things, we just don’t. It’s why we have to hire an outside “expert” to tell us how to recruit “the creative class”- those darn people who don’t like to color within the lines, or think inside the box. It’s how we kill our city in little bites.

When I listen to the arguments about why we can’t do regional uni-gov from the powers that be, they point to Ohio laws that supposedly make it impossible. That’s asking permission, and being told no.

If this is the land of the free, home of the brave, I haven’t seen it lately.

No, Orville Wright did not have a pilots license.

What’s stopping you from giving yourself permission to do something great?

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Bob VL

Great Post – all! 
Thanks David and David … and Orville and Wilbur too !  Thanks to Clay Mathile for sticking around also … albeit in Miami County!    We do all have the collective thought and creativity to do something “great in Dayton” don’t we? 
Who will be the next famous inventors – fliers – to soar over our region?
Bob VL

Bruce Kettelle

You are right David, it is not about having permission to explore.  Yes we might get accused of trespassing from time to time but we need to test the boundaries to see what is inside.


Other things that Orville and Wilbur didn’t have or do:

a) a blog
b) desire to tell everyone else what they’re doing wrong
c) tunnel-vision focus on only Dayton or this region
d) a public education system starved for funding for two generations
e) much concern about saving their own historic buildings

It’s been said that the people of Greece have underachieved for a couple of millenia because they’re too impressed by their early history.  I’m convinced that Dayton’s next generation of Wrights-Kettering-Patterson-Fraze will emerge when everyone quits dwelling on the previous generations.  Focus on the past means turning eyes away from future.


I’d also point out that the Wrights’ big business flop was not their print shop or bicycle business but making aircraft.   Others built that industry…making planes and flying them…not the Wrights.

Also, the Wrights were part of a community of international experimenters and researchers.  That’ might be why the technology took off as fast as it did after the Wrights proved flying was possible.  This was why they were so well recieved in Europe, since a lot of this early R&D was going on in Europe contemporary with the Wrights.


Focus on the past means turning eyes away from future.

Attitudes like this has interesting implications for neighborhood conservation and preservation.

Also, if one is talking about economic history, there is the concept of the “useable past”; discerning aspects of the genus locii that might still have relevance.  And I think this isn’t a narrative of “innovation” but rather a narrative of entrepeneurialism and execution.  As well as a narrative of moving into and out of different lines of business over the course of local economic history.   The focus on the Wright Brothers (who are pretty colorless, IMO) and the great industrialists obscures this broader theme.

Bob VL

@Jeff –
A buisenss flop?  The Wright Brothers DID start,  establish and also created –  AND manufactured airplanes from the very inception of the first airplane in 1903!   They may not have excelled – but I doubt they were ever cosidered a failure in their endeavor?  You are correct of course with noting the international community and the inventors and entrepeneuers world-wide who helped grow the seed of aviation!


True it’s a bit strong to call their airplane company a flop.  I meant it didn’t progress the way some of their contemporaries’ companies did, like Glenn Martin and Glen Curtiss.  Orville or Wilbut  (I keep on forgetting which one died)  ended up selling the company to Curtiss, I think. 

As to saving historic buildings- we don’t have a clue what makes a building historic.

I didn’t say historic preservation, I said neighborhood conservation.  Very little of the built environment is really historic , as in having a connection to a historic personage or event, or even having art-historical signifigance.  The comment was related to the cultural bias that old = bad. 


who gives a shit if he had a license or not, get a life

Ice Bandit

Public education funding is a disgrace in Ohio. Case closed. (David Esrati)

Not so fast Dave. The Old Bandito will argue that Buckeyes spend too much on education for the dismal results we get.  Compare our students results on standardized tests against students from the third world where the annual education budget wouldn’t buy ya’ a 12 pack at Russ’ Drive Thru. What we have  in Dayton, that no amount of money will correct, is a dual culture clash with differing attitudes arriving at the same abysmal result; a west side culture where school prep is derided as “acting white” and an east side Appalachian culture where education is merely derided. Less than a mile from your South Park enclave, the good people of Oakwood spend the highest millage in the state, have no bussing or cafeteria, offer instruction  in ancient buildings, and yet seem happy with their educational results. This is a result of the Oakwood culture. Perhaps we should do what business does when it has strayed from its’ core mission; return to the three Rs and forget  all the educational extravagances the educrats would indulge. The Educrats and their tag-team partners in the teachers’ unions have failed us and need to be called on the carpet…………


In Oakwood there are no excuses. Period.

If you fail you are a failure. If you hate that feeling you study your ass off.

In Dayton, well, not so much. It is cool to be ……….  dumb….?,,,,,….

They have a cafeterria BTW.

Dayton culture is to be cool. Oakwood culture is to rule.