Fixing Dayton 101: first in a series

A friend just got divorced and had to move in with her sister in Springboro with her kids. She was a “Dayton lifer/City girl” through and through.

The big new house isn’t her style, the commute sucks, but here is the key: her kids, 5 and 9, can run down the street to play without worries. There is a pool for the plat-not a “spray park” where we can wash the great unwashed- but can’t teach them a life skill of swimming. The schools aren’t great- and are almost broke from supporting the huge influx of escapees from Dayton and the first ring suburbs.

How do we solve our population drain?

First- build on strengths: Neighborhoods like South Park are 8/10ths of the way there. Make sure people don’t speed through the community with constant ticketing. Guarantee the whole neighborhood will go to a quality school- k-12. Enforce yard and trash standards- provide assistance for exterior repairs through low interest loans and utilizing neighborhood resources for work crews (including job retraining).

Look at building “neighborhood pools” not supported by the city- but by community ownership. Same things with daycare centers, senior daycare and after school student enrichment programming. The city would provide neighborhood organizing assistance- things like setting up the 501c3’s for taxing purposes (this whole area of tax law needs to be simplified) and neighborhood organization leadership training. Empowerment of communities is the first step to re-populating them.

Thoughts?

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18 Responses

  1. TeresaLea August 4, 2008 / 10:16 am
    Over the past couple of years my interest in politics has been slowing diminishing. The main reason: even the politics I somewhat agree with are so filtered and full of BS, they are hard to stomach most times.

    I’ve always felt that America’s biggest downfall is our apathy towards each other.. and by “each other” I don’t just mean the people in other countries we ignore every day, I mean our very own neighbors and fellow citizens.

    “Change” is highly spoke of, yet so far fetched because of OUR OWN apathy… idea’s like this are not only refreshing, but the exactly what it will take to start the “change” our country/society/cities/neighborhoods need so desperately:

    “Look at building “neighborhood pools” not supported by the city- but by community ownership. Same things with daycare centers, senior daycare and after school student enrichment programming.”

    Imagine the social change this would catalyst by knowing your neighbor, their children, their families, their struggles, their triumphs and giving a damn because they affect your life too.

    Oh and by the way, your friend sounds nice. :)

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  2. David Esrati August 4, 2008 / 10:30 am

    My friend is nice.
    So are my neighbors. South Park has that social fabric- neighbors know each other- help each other, party together- Saturday we had a neighborhood concert and then went over to the South Park Tavern for food and drink. It’s working- without politicians.
    Just imagine if the politicians started to realize who they work for- and why. Empowering citizens to prosper- instead of worrying about becoming sugar daddy’s to corporate America with our hard earned tax dollars…
    big transformation.

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  3. Gene August 4, 2008 / 11:12 am
    Well take your “do it yourself attitude” (WHICH I LOVE) and please forward it to all of the people who have their hand out. Maybe then you will have a little luck in getting Dayton back to where it should be.

    BTW, a lot of areas do have situations you are describing – they are called, drum roll please………………………………………
    ………………………………………………………….
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. THE SUBURBS! the places you hate! This is a huge reason why people move to the suburbs, to avoided BS politics and government hand out programs and to avoid crime and crappy schools, to go to places that respect their neighbors and their parks and their property and the laws, I could go on and on. But more often than not you see Communities with Communities helping and sharing with one another, having block parties and supporting local parks, etc. I know you will disagree with this because you want to be always right, but suburbs, albeit not perfect, actually lend themselves to the type of neighborhood/community you dream of.

    Amazing how other people were way ahead of you on this. Take a lesson from Oakwood, that means don’t put up with other people’s shit (ie crime, uncut lawns, unpainted house, trash issues, punk kids disrupting school, punk kids spray painting gang symbols, etc)
    They have a loving and caring community – and safe, clean, and beautiful.

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  4. David Esrati August 4, 2008 / 12:14 pm

    Gene-
    Suburbs don’t have the jobs or offer (with the exception of Kettering) the arts or other amenities that make a city a CITY.
    Until all the suburbs and the city realize we’re all in this together- we’re bound to continue to fail collectively, while other cities like Indianapolis, Louisville and Columbus continue to thrive.

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  5. Gene August 4, 2008 / 3:23 pm
    Dayton is losing jobs all the time to the suburbs – yes it is a little more spread out, but “Suburbs are the New City” tm. Deal with it.

    Arts? leave that to the core city where losers try to be creative bc they really don’t want to work – Dayton is perfect for that.

    And “other amenities” – yes, the drugs, crime, violence, dirty people, dirty yards, dirty cars, laziness, the unemployed – yes, leave these amenities in Dayton, and let the suburbs keep blowing the doors off the Downtown area.

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  6. Gene !!! August 4, 2008 / 3:35 pm
    BTW – I am one of those losers in Dayton.

    The arts are mainly supported by big bucks from the suburbs. The suburbs need more art. I think they should invest in more and it would pay off.

    And, although I love the arts community, it struggles to alive. So don’t act like people are flocking downtown to see anything.

    I love Dayton, but why bother the suburbs to help a dieing city. If WE want to do it then WE need to clean the place up, stop crime, educate are kids better, etc. Regionalism is nice, but will never happen, so why bother talking about it.

    People in the suburbs think you are a loser if you live in Dayton (the actual city limits) ask someone next time you see them and they are sure to laugh.

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  7. Theresa Gasper August 4, 2008 / 7:26 pm
    What makes South Park different from the suburbs is its diversity. Multi generational welfare families live next to middle class live next to an occasional millionaire. Artists live next to attorneys, musicians next to scientists, professors next to high school drop outs, widows next to single moms. Kids grow up next to kids that don’t look just like them or think just like them. Those that have help those that don’t.

    No offense to the burbs, I live in one (but truly miss living in the City), but often a subdivision is made up of homes that are all about the same price range. That tends to create clusters of people earning the same amount and often have the same interests.

    The difference is that you can stay and make a difference or you can run and try to hide. There is a reason for the statement “as the core goes, so does the region.” Have you noticed that Oakwood, Kettering and other inner ring suburbs are now battling the same problems of the core. The donut hole is growing.

    As a friend used to tell us “you can worry about someone else’s kid being a bad influence on yours, or you can help your kids become a GOOD influence in the life of the other”. Let’s see, what are the other expressions that come to mind “love your neighbor”…”treat others the way you want to be treated.”

    In other words, we cannot continue to force all the poverty and crime into our inner cities and then complain that we don’t feel safe living or working there or that the schools aren’t up to par. There’s a great book called “Return Flight” by Robert Lupton who considers his calling “urban ministry” I often recommend it and Dr Ruby Payne’s Bridges Out of Poverty.

    What we have to address is the culture of poverty – and other than having an incredible talent or a strong desire to lift yourself out of it – it boils down to needing a mentor to help you transition from one income class to another. But to just shuffle the poor or criminals into the projects has proven that it just creates a culture of dependence, anger and self defeating and anti social behavior. Yet as soon as DMHA or HUD tries to integrate the poor into middle class neighborhoods, everyone starts crying “not in MY backyard”.

    I don’t know exactly what the answer is, clearly it’s complicated or someone would have solved it by now. I do think a lot boils down to respect – for self and for others. And if we could somehow work on just that, then people might not abuse drugs & alcohol or their kids – nor teach their kids to hate cops – or anyone else who is a different color or speaks a different language.

    I guess the urban core will become important to suburbanites when they get tired of the commute, want to reduce their foot print on the environment, want a walkable community or to be close to the Schuster, 5th/3rd field or the art galleries & independent restaurants in a REAL downtown. When it is suddenly “their back yard” they’ll pitch a fit and things will change. And then the poor will move to the burbs, divide the McMansions into multifamily apartments, and we’ll be right back where we started again. Only the core will have the tax base and the resources and the burbs won’t.

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  8. Gene !!! August 4, 2008 / 7:48 pm
    You are lost. There are a lot of different people with different jobs who live in the suburbs. Wake up. If you have any beef it is that there are not a lot of black folk. Other than that you just are not looking for the right indicators of who is who. All those people who live next to each other do live next to each other in the ‘burbs. You must be blind.

    All communities have the same problems to a certain degree. A) it is not a bad as Dayton and B) the problems stem from the losers that move from loserville to the ‘burb bc they had loser parents.
    Oakwood does not have the crime and gun problem of Dayton, and has a fraction of the drug problem. Same with Kettering. You are wrong again. This must be a theme with you.

    The respect thing – ahhhhhh – people in the ‘burbs have it, few do in Dayton. NOT IN MY BACKYARD – well, why do people want crime and poverty and drugs and guns in their back yard. Most people hate this shit and that is why they move. You want the “movers” money and time to fix someone else problem. Maybe we should just kill criminals for any offense and after about a year or two the world would be a better, safer, cleaner place.

    Poor people are sub dividing McMansions. And a lot of poor do live in the ‘burbs. These are points you miss. The ‘burbs just keep things in check better, so if you are a criminal you know not to bring you shit to the street, rather be discreet about it and no one will screw with you!

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  9. tg August 4, 2008 / 10:08 pm
    Well Gene, at least you have the “respect for others” thing down pat!

    ;)

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  10. tg August 5, 2008 / 12:41 pm
    This is what drives me nuts and it’s what we are trying to counteract with the “This is Dayton” Creative Class Initiative. When you’re fed a steady diet of negative news, it’s easy to want to give up and “move to Springboro”. And I’m not being PollyAnna here, I know there has been legitimate bad news – a lot of it – lately. But that doesn’t mean that the only things happening in the Dayton area are negative.

    For example, check out this YouTube video I found yesterday…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkuV_vR2dYU

    This is what I mean when I talk about us accepting negative paradigms as truth. Just because we’re losing population doesn’t mean we’re dying. We have many strengths in this region – easy access, an affordable cost of living, great neighborhoods.

    It’s not perfect, but at least the R&R jobs downtown stayed in the region by moving to Kettering – they could just have easily gone to Texas. The DDN stayed in Dayton, even if not downtown. They could have gone to Franklin…which is still, by the way, part of the region.

    Now I just need to find the author’s email at Forbes and ask everyone that still believes in the Dayton region to flood it with emails about all the good things happening here!

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  11. Gene !!! August 5, 2008 / 1:11 pm
    Here are other issues pertaining to Dayton and Ohio. Where do you stand on these Mr. Esrati?

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/08/05/ddn080508issuesweb.html

    I love any casino – the closer the better. DT Dayton is an Indian Reservation as far as I am concerned. Put a Huge Casino there! TAX FREE BABY!

    I do not like the sick leave issue – this will make businesses want to relocate. And new businesses will go to near by states. We need a “Tax Free Dayton – For Businesses and Beyond *tm” to help our area once again become important and viable in business and development.

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  12. David Esrati August 5, 2008 / 4:56 pm

    Gene!!!
    You bore me with your constant negativity.The sick day policy is retarded. I offer 5 paid sick days a year- for when you are sick- not as guaranteed holiday.
    How about requiring the insurance companies to extend coverage to everyone equally instead- and some preventative health care instead?
    As to Casinos- I think we should have one in every downtown of every major city in Ohio- not out in Wilmington- or on some Indian land- or out on a boat.
    Come to town- play some poker- have a good time. Tax the hell out of it.

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  13. Jeff August 5, 2008 / 9:18 pm
    “Death has been declared by Forbes Magazine. We may as well all pack up and move to Springboro.”

    Heh.

    Back in the mid 90s urban affairs writer David Rusk came to speak at WSU. He had a book out, Citys Without Suburbs. I think its still in print.

    He listed a group of citys in that book that he called “Citys Beyond the Point of No Return” (based on various measures).

    Dayton was one of those citys.

    Looks like Rusk wasn’t that far off.

    (though to be fair Forbes is looking at the entire metropolitan area, not just Dayton city, which is even more depressing when you think about it.).

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  14. Gene !!! August 5, 2008 / 11:34 pm
    I was joking about moving to Springboro…….. I DO LIVE IN DAYTON. At least we agree on casinos and sick days, and the rest of your insight re: the topic of sick days.

    I get upset when we can’t solve our own problems…….. and when people wear funny hats and funny glasses. I love Dayton. I, for better or worse, am Dayton. I think it is funny when someone declares OUR city dead. DL Stewart also makes the same point, Heck, I have a good job, make money, own businesses, ….. what is not to like for me?

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  15. tg August 5, 2008 / 11:42 pm
    Gene!!! NOW you’re talking. I just think it’s ironic that we talk so much about leadership, but not personal responsibility. Doesn’t this all boil down to everyone just obeying the law? Doing what’s right vs doing what’s wrong and then not helping the police and then blaming them for the crime rate. We’re all mocking the Mayor, but we’re a WEAK mayor form of government. If we want a strong mayor, then we need to change the City Charter – and then ELECT a strong mayor. In the meantime we crucify the woman for at least being wiling to do the job when most of us, wouldn’t touch it….for any amount of money. And let’s not forget she’s one of five on the City Commission.

    Dayton has soooo much going for it. We reinvented ourselves after the flood; after NCR closed down in the early 70s and Frigidaire pulled out in the late 70s. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we will reinvent ourselves again. It’s what we DO in Dayton. We’re creative, innovative and survivors. As long as we refuse to accept false paradigms that outsiders try to force on us, we’ll be fine.

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  16. Jeff August 6, 2008 / 4:05 am
    “As long as we refuse to accept false paradigms that outsiders try to force on us, we’ll be fine.”

    Nice cryptic comment about false paradigms and outsiders.

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  17. tg August 6, 2008 / 9:09 am
    ???

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