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This Is Dayton Poster Initiative: Celebrating Dayton’s Creatives

The Dayton community is believed to have an “inferiority complex”.  With so many stories of college graduates leaving Ohio for “greener pastures” and of job losses and budget cuts, it is difficult to feel optimistic about our future.   Something needs to change.

This is Dayton” is trying to change that perception.  One of the five DaytonCREATE initiatives, the group will start plastering downtown with large, vibrant posters of Dayton creatives and urban adventurers.  Look for the unveiling of 16 Dayton Originals in time for Friday’s Urban Nights.    The posters will map the way to many of Dayton’s ‘gems’ and will prove to be especially important for an upcoming Urban Excursion on Friday, October 2nd.   (Want us to send you info on the Excursion?  Send us your email address!)

For the past year, this group has been trying to determine the best way to show what makes Dayton so special.  The conclusion is that it is the people and the connections formed within the community.  Then in August, there was a blog post on www.Esrati.com about a creative professional who had lost hope in Dayton and was relocating to Austin, Texas.   Carli Dixon and Theresa Gasper were sitting around Dixon’s dining room table in historic South Park one evening talking about the thread and decided to celebrate the ones who stay rather than mourn the ones who leave.

A week prior, Gasper was enjoying the back patio at Café Boulevard with her husband, David, on a quiet Monday evening.  According to Gasper, a group of three young professionals told the waitress they were in town for two weeks and asked what there was to do when they were not working.  She listed various museums and they said they were looking for more nightlife and a little less culture.  She told them about all the places in the Oregon District. You could see the look in their eyes as they looked around (and saw only five people) that they were silently asking “is every place this crowded?”   Says Gasper, “I cannot tell you what Dave and I talked about after that; I was so preoccupied with thinking about how to answer their question.”

It was then the vision of the posters came into focus – highlight cool people doing cool things in Dayton.  So you will see photos of people rock climbing at Urban Krag, boxing at Drake’s gym, kayaking on the river, mountain bike riding, playing bike polo, etc.   “These are activities many of the locals aren’t even aware of, so the posters will serve the dual purpose of informing locals and out-of-towners of activities they might not otherwise think of” said Gasper.  The people in the posters are real, not models.  As you browse the DaytonCREATE website, you will learn a little more about what makes these individuals tick and where are some of their favorite places in Dayton.

Carli Dixon adds “Dayton is teeming with creativity, and provocative people and happenings, but we aren’t always good at reporting good news. Further, our downtown already has the infrastructure (galleries, bars, athletic venues), but we need more people filling those venues before we can convince new businesses (restaurants, shops) to return to downtown.”

“This is Dayton” is a grassroots effort to market the region.  Dixon’s company, Freeze Frame (www.freezeframeit.com) donated the services of their graphic designer, Tommy Cooper.   The vinyl for the first run was donated by Digital Fringe.  The Gasper’s are picking up the cost for the ink.  Others have stepped forward to assist with future print runs.   The posters also carry a modified version of the City of Dayton’s “Dayton Patented” logo.   Hamilton Dixon, Jacqueline Buck and Andy Snow donated their photographic talent and Beth Duke donated cash to cover promotional materials for the October Urban Excursion.   No taxpayer dollars were used to pay for these posters.  In fact, in asking people to be a part of the poster initiative, many stepped forward and offered their support or suggested others who might take part.

“This is Dayton” currently consists of David Seyer, Susan Byrnes, Theresa Gasper, Sally Struthers, Bridget Oaks, Diane Graham, Carli Dixon and additional help and support from fellow catalysts Lisa Grigsby and Brooke Bryan of the DaytonCREATE Communication Team.

And by the way, that young professional who planned to relocate to Austin?  After a brief stay there, she realized she had already figured out the city in four days and that most of what she wanted in life was found right here in Dayton.   She will be featured in the next round of posters – now that she has decided to continue to make Dayton her home.

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3 Responses to “This Is Dayton Poster Initiative: Celebrating Dayton’s Creatives”

  1. Check out this Sunday’s Dayton Daily News (9/20/09) and look for Arundi Venkayya Cox’s column in the business section about the poster effort.

    Start forming your teams for the Urban Excursion – we can only accept the first 50 and the buzz is building. If you are an urban dweller or are pretty familiar with the downtown area in general, please invite friends that might night get downtown often. This is a great way to show off some of Dayton’s hidden gems – some that even you might not be aware of!

    Keep checking here for more details!

  2. Jenet says:

    Could you give me a little more information about Urban Excursion? I have looked around the site and I see the entry but nothing about what is included and what the evening is really all about. I get that it is a scavenger hunt (Great Idea) but what else? Any details would be appreciated.

  3. Jenet – we can’t give too many details because that would give you advanced notice of the locations.

    Our ultimate goal is to get more “feet on the street” downtown. Some of the obstacles to people coming downtown are 1) there’s nothing to do, 2) it’s not safe, 3) they don’t know where to start. So the purpose of the evening is a fun way to get people into venues they might normally go into on their own. It’s to demystify downtown so that the next time they come down to a Dragons game or event at the Schuster, they might be more willing to stay downtown for a while and go to a venue they discovered during the Excursion. If we can increase traffic to existing locations, it makes it easier to attract new venues to the area.

    So, this is an adventure, try not to overthink it but just go for it. I know you’re an urban dweller, so grab some of your friends that think you are nuts for living in Dayton. Put on something that identifies you as a team (same color shirts, hats, costumes) and sign up by Monday. You will be given a playbook with hints & clues to finding the various venues. You will also be given different options that offer varying point values. We continue to get donations from local vendors and are putting together prize packages for the top three teams.

    Hopefully the concept will take off and we’ll be able to do this on a quarterly or even month basis throughout the region.