This is the magic post number 1000. It’s been a lot of words, a lot of thought, and a lot of time. Thanks to all who continue to read- and the smaller subset who participate.
Why do we live where we do?
If you are a City of Dayton employee, you lived in the city because you had to. That accounts for 2,100 or so of the 160,000 who are left in a city that once had around 250,000 residents. The rest of us live here by choice.
It’s not just a choice between living in Dayton or Oakwood, it’s Dayton or Memphis or Boston or Osh Kosh. That’s the beauty of America, you can live in any of fifty states and still be an American.
However, around here- it’s not all Dayton, until you leave town. Around here it’s Centerville, Springboro, Trotwood. All of them statistically insignificant on the global scale. Even within Dayton, we have people who live in Five Oaks and ones who live in South Park. Even more insignificant- or, if you really think about it- the most important, because your block is what directly affects your quality of life. Not any of those other entities defined by lines on a map.
If you have good neighbors, and good schools, good parks, good services and a nice home that you can afford and its future is good, you are a happy citizen. Take away any of those factors, let doubt set in, and you start thinking about a better investment, somewhere else. Face it, the number one reason young people move out of Dayton is when their kids hit school age. The other, is because they’ve lost faith in their neighborhood.
Residency rules are for wussies. It’s a desperate move to sell your product- a quality of life by law. The result- areas of Dayton that aren’t in the Dayton Public School district were full of City employees- just one more clear indication that legally forced solutions to socio-economic problems don’t work.
Busing killed this city. We replaced racial segregation with economic segregation and fueled the growth of the suburbs (which some how got overlooked by the Federal Judge- Oakwood still has practically no African American students, yet there is no forced busing there).
The discrimination of tearing apart Dayton’s neighborhoods with forced busing while the suburbs went untouched is one of the greatest crimes against a people since slavery was legal. It has cost us all.
Bringing back neighborhood schools is almost impossible as well. The damage has been done. The only real solution to rejuvenating our neighborhoods will be to empower them to build the community they want and deserve. It’s time to focus on helping each of the Dayton neighborhoods create after school programs, summer programs and neighborhood rivalry’s and relationships to get back to the basic building block of happiness- good communities. It’s time to dismantle the forced system of “Priority Boards” and enhance the Neighborhood groups. It’s time to connect with those who’ve chosen to live together in as many ways as possible, under a single simplified government. Think of it as the United Neighborhoods of Dayton- and start looking at the natural boundaries of a neighborhood instead of those drawn by planners, politicians and developers. We are living in the age of Social Capital connecting with Social Media and creating Virtual Communities- it’s time to put aside all these old walls, and build new bridges to the City we all want, for our mutual gain. Dayton will only rise again if we all agree to say no to the gloom and doom media, and find new leadership, new ways to communicate and new ways to live, work and play together.
To top it all off, for the first time in a long time, not only was I quoted intelligently in the Dayton Daily News, but, I was given the last words:
City Commission candidate David Esrati called the residency rule a major stumbling block toward moving Dayton to a regional government that would have to be abolished before talks of UniGov could move forward.
“The real issue is that people should want to live in Dayton because of the things we do right, not because we want to limit the rights of our employees,” Esrati said.
It’s time to do right by Dayton, we all live here together.
If you like the ideas in this post, and others on this site, please consider a donation to my campaign to join the Dayton City Commission so we can work together to have the City we want.