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Dayton to host Symposium and Arts Festival


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An article in the August 5, 2008 issue of Forbes Magazine declared Buffalo, NY; Canton, OH; Charleston, WV; Cleveland, OH; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Flint, MI; Scranton PA; Springfield, MA and Youngstown, OH as the 10 Fastest Dying Cities in America.

Looking to prove that nothing could be further from the truth, and timed to celebrate the article’s 1st anniversary, the Ten Living Cities Symposium and Arts Festival is the brainchild of Peter Benkendorf, executive director of Involvement Advocacy, and Mike Elsass, owner of Color of Energy Gallery, both of Dayton.

Taking a page from Woodstock, Benkendorf and Elsass have declared August 7 -9, 2009 as “Three Days of Ideas and Inspiration,” in an effort to bring together artists and activists, community leaders and organizers, and civic-minded people from the 10 cities. Having concluded that there are amazing people doing amazing things in Dayton, imagine the possibilities if that power were multiplied by 10!

Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin is on board and organizing is getting underway. Given the short timeline, Benkendorf and Elsass hope to call on local contacts and institutional partners, plus the connectivity of the internet to build a community of attendees.

In order to make the session as valuable as possible, and to attract a diversity of backgrounds, the Symposium is being organized into five content strands. Local Action Groups will be responsible for helping develop the substance of each, as well as getting the word out within their co-horts. The Five Strands, and working themes are:

  • Neighborhood/Grassroots: Ideas & Inspiration
  • Artist/Activists: Cross-Pollination and Showcase
  • Government: Role of the Public Sector as Catalyst and Resource
  • Academia: The Role of Universities, Theory and Practice
  • Media: The Role of Media in Saving our Cities

Friday August 7 – Check-in and opening of the Forbes 10 Fastest Dying Cities Art Exhibition, featuring leading work from each community. Show will coincide with Dayton’s monthly First Friday of gallery openings.

Saturday August 8 – Day-long symposium where people from each city will have an opportunity to present some of the most innovative projects currently underway. Special interest discussion groups will allow attendees to cross-pollinate ideas around the specific topic areas.

Saturday August 8 – Evening is the time to head out with new-found friends for dinner and entertainment in Dayton’s vibrant night life.

Sunday August 9 – A morning session will give people time for some further sharing of ideas, a final exchange of contact information and to some grab nourishment before heading back to our respective communities to get on with the work at hand.

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