A wrap-up of updayton’s 2011 Young Creatives Summit
By Jennifer Hanauer
Want to know the difference between dying and surviving? The will to live. Do not try to tell any of the attendees of updayton’s Third Annual Young Creatives Summit that Dayton is a dying city; you WILL get rocked.
Updayton, formed in 2008 with the purpose of spurring economic growth in the Miami Valley by attracting and retaining young talent, is dead-set on revitalizing and maintaining Dayton’s vibrant creative community. They do this by concentrating on the aspects that make the Gem City what it is, including its unlimited drawing potential for this generation’s young professionals. Updayton chair Scott Murphy said, “Too often we focus on the things that aren’t going right versus the many things that are.” Friday’s summit was one step of many that updayton and like-minded individuals are taking to ensure that Dayton’s rejuvenation continues.
The objective of the vigorous, three-hour summit was to gather Dayton’s young, creative community and have them brainstorm ideas that will help to shape the future of our region. Participants divided into four breakout sessions, each with the goal of conceiving project plans that will invigorate one of the major topics concerning young creatives: jobs, diversity, nightlife and neighborhoods. Votes were cast within each group to determine the idea with the most potential, and that idea was then presented to the summit as a whole at the culmination of the event. From this framework, volunteers will launch an action plan May 3 that will determine details for updayton’s next projects.
The outcome of each breakout session was led by established Dayton-area organizations and landed on the following proposals:
Jobs – With the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE), participants proposed “Linked Internships,” a LinkedIn page that will be local to the Dayton region and used by students and employers as a “one-stop shop” for finding jobs and internships in the area.
Diversity – Guided by insight from the Immigrant Friendly Task Force of the City of Dayton Human Relations Council, participants cultivated a “big brother” style program that will pair native and immigrant families in the interest of sharing cultural heritage.
Nightlife – As part of the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s effort to stimulate new interest for First Friday, participants presented the idea of developing a fleet of performer-propelled rickshaws to cart visitors between venues while offering a song or a story to engage the riders in the locale.
Neighborhoods – With the goal of attracting young creatives to Dayton neighborhoods, CityWide Development and updayton participants landed on the idea to have community clean-up days in order to encourage camaraderie and create a united sense of pride amongst residents of local neighborhoods.
Projects implemented by past summits include DaytonMostMetro.com, an online resource for active Daytonians, and the Wayne Avenue Corridor beautification project, which has made the area between the Oregon District and the Cannery more inviting to pedestrian traffic. The success of and continued interest in revitalizing projects such as these will ensure the continued growth of Dayton as a destination for young creatives.
With all the benefits of having so many groups interested in the advancement of our city come a few impediments, one of which is the polycentric nature of such a collective effort. “Collaboration … it’s messy. It’s complicated,” said SOCHE Executive Director Sean Creighton during his opening remarks at the summit. Volunteers face the challenge of not only creating and sustaining interest in the projects, but also maintaining organization between all interested parties and keeping a cohesive vision throughout the process.
The dynamic nature of the summit attracted not only Dayton’s young creatives, but also several of our city’s leaders. Among the approximate 180 young creatives at the summit, attendants at the event included Mayor Gary Leitzell, Commissioner Dan Foley, City Manager Tim Riordan, State Senator Peggy Lehner and State Senator Bill Beagle.
Also in attendance were several of the summit’s sponsors. During registration, attendees were invited to circulate among tables set up by sponsors including Dayton Business Journal, Standard Register, the Dayton Foundation and Dayton City Paper.
Following the event, young creatives unwound at the after party hosted in the Excelsior Lofts in the Oregon District, a space with plans to become residential but, for the moment, playing host to social events. The after party featured a performance by the Al Holbrook Band and was catered by Brixx Ice Co.
Updayton is encouraging the Dayton area not only to live, but to thrive. This will require an active part to be played by all of Dayton’s residents. “It’s not enough to just say what others should do to improve Dayton,” said Murphy. “We have to be willing to be part of the solution ourselves.”
Updayton is working to facilitate involvement in the revitalization of Dayton. “If you want to help this city, and you’re willing to put in a little work, we’re going to have your back,” said Murphy.
Visit www.updayton.com for more information and to volunteer for one of the initiatives.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer at email@example.com.