In a year that’s included a major tornado disaster and a mass shooting, 2019 has been difficult for many people across the Dayton region.
On Tuesday, a group of around seventy residents gathered to brainstorm about what Dayton could look like a decade from now. The event at Top of the Market - Banquet and Events Center was designed to generate new ideas for the city’s future.
The business is located in a building known for its place in Dayton history. Built in 1911, the renovated building first served as a warehouse for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
On Tuesday however, it was the city’s future that was the focus of the so-called Dayton in a Decade event.
The event, attended by “civic visionaries, public officials, and community activists” was described as a “hands-on workshop, to collectively envision and create concrete elements of the city that you want to see a decade from now.”
Facilitating Tuesday’s event was Jake Dunagan with the nonprofit Silicon Valley-based Institute For the Future.
“Coming here we didn't know exactly what to expect,” he said. “Are people still in the midst of grieving?”
Dunagan said that was not the case, saying “the optimism in the room is palpable and remarkable.”
Co-facilitator, Stuart Candy is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Candy says the event was actually scheduled months ago and he praised participants for focusing on long-term ideals rather than being mired in recent events.
“The overwhelming impression that I'm getting from this engagement with the community of Dayton is how ready people are to have these conversations about the longer term,” Candy said. “There's a recognition that, you know, not just in spite of but partly because of the challenges and the tragedies of the last several months, there needs to be another layer of conversation.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley echoed those words.
“I've been really impressed with the character of this community and the grit and resilience of it,” she said. “And so, I think that makes it really appropriate for us to think like what kind of city do we want to be in 10 years? What are we really about when you have those kind of events happen? It's really actually the most perfect time to think about ourselves in the next decade.”
Whaley says information gathered at the brainstorming sessions will be evaluated in the coming months and she hopes within those ideas are some that could help the city prepare for future challenges.