The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

updayton’s “Stay in Dayton” Mission Continues

by Annie Bowers

Where will you be on Friday, April 27th? Are you interested in attracting and retaining creative talent in the Dayton Region? If so, join close to 200 fellow Daytonians and community partners at the Dayton Art Institute for the 2012 updayton Summit.

The 2012 Summit, an annual event created by updayton, will focus on four key areas of community interest: Diversity, Alternative Transportation, Neighborhoods and Urban Vibrancy. Summit attendees will brainstorm ideas for new projects in each of the four categories with the collective goal of attracting — and keeping — young creatives within the region. Updayton Executive Director, Yvette Kelly-Fields states, “If we can get them here and involved, they’re more likely to stay in the region and continue to help it grow creatively.”

Updayton, the non-profit organization responsible for hosting the Summit, began as an initiative of DaytonCREATE 2008, a project formed under the direction of several companies that shared mutual concerns about the “brain drain” in the Dayton Region. The team selected 32 members of the community to act as catalysts and challenged them to develop initiatives geared toward making Dayton an attractive creative city. Two of these initiatives blossomed into unique stand-alone non-profit organizations: Film Dayton and updayton. The focus of the latter was to unite a group of young professionals and community members who shared a passion for local revitalization and a commitment to promoting their region as a vibrant place to live, work, learn and play.

Kelly-Fields further explains, “Updayton connects networks, challenges the status quo and inspires all people who believe in Dayton to roll-up their sleeves to help the community. Our efforts haven’t revitalized Dayton overnight, nor were they expected to, but they’ve shaken the ground in other ways. We’ve stopped waiting for someone else to do what we know needs to be done.”

In 2009, updayton hosted its first Summit, which drew interest from citizens across the region and rejuvenated the notion of developing Dayton into a vital creative community — and year after year, the Summit provides specific plans on how exactly to accomplish that goal.

One such plan, Welcome to Dayton, was a Summit Diversity project that aimed to connect native Dayton families with immigrant families in order to help immigrants become more acclimated to the area. The group also compiled an official “Welcome to Dayton” packet that will be available in all Dayton Metro libraries beginning May first.

In addition, the implementation of First Friday Scavenger Hunts began in 2011, encouraging people from outside the city to venture downtown to experience the energy of First Fridays and see what the city has to offer by way of galleries, shops and restaurants.

Under the Neighborhoods heading, the 2011 Summit identified the Warren/Brown Street area as a neighborhood with tremendous potential to attract young creative professionals. Kelly-Fields explains, “We saw it as a neighborhood on the rise, and asked ourselves, how we could make this area more interesting and attractive?” From these efforts, the Bridge Project was born: updayton asked local artists to submit designs for consideration, and on May 5 the winning design (chosen by public vote) will be painted on the Route 35 pedestrian overpass bridge.

Finally, under the 2011 Jobs category, the Dayton Interns project outlined a plan to create an online portal that would allow businesses to post a single listing for internships, which could then be communicated to eight different university partners with the click of a button. Students could view the listings through their university’s career services site. The result? Student interns and local employers were easily matched up, without having to sift through openings on multiple sites.

This year’s Summit will focus on the following areas:

Alternative Transportation: to promote bikes, bussing and walking as forms of transportation.

Diversity: to encourage Dayton Metro Libraries to embrace diversity by building library resources to reflect the growing immigrant population.

Urban Vibrancy: to promote Dayton as a destination spot among college students, urging them to become more involved with the downtown area for more than just special events.

Neighborhoods: to work with East End Community Center in the Twin Towers neighborhood to implement strategies that will help encourage people to move there.

After a day of brainstorming, the energy and excitement will continue to build at the After Party at the CADC’s new location in St. Clair Lofts, featuring DJ Ruckus Roboticus, food, wine and Buckeye vodka. In addition, ten swag bags will be given away featuring goodies from local merchants, including a DAI membership, tickets to the Dayton Film Festival, and Sidebar, Ghostlight Coffee and South Park Tavern gift certificates. One lucky swag bag winner will also receive a key that provides the use of a Bob Ross Motors 2012 Fiat for an entire weekend. The event will wind to a close at the After After Party at Sidebar, which includes a $5 breakfast from 10p.m. – 2a.m.

(Ticket prices for the 2012 Summit at the Dayton Art Institute are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and $5 for college students. For more information and to register in advance, please visit or call 937.974.1920.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Annie Bowers at

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In her "other" life (while not busy being a ninja) Annie owns and operates The Envelope, a unique stationery boutique in Centerville which specializes in custom invitations and lovely paper creations. She is a member of Generation Dayton, does freelance graphic design, writing and photography, plays tennis, and is a Mini Cooper enthusiast.

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