*This article was written by our friend Ryan Duke.
It had to be done. I hope others have their “what to do about Dayton, OH” as well. So, here is mine. If you are from the Gem City or not, this is a universal concept that you can utilize.
A small city. 5th st. being the furthest it goes. There is a 6th, but it’s about as long as an ally. Population around 160,000 and on a downward slope. Encased in suburbs and some mild ghetto. In 2005, 29% of Dayton was at the the poverty rate. Dayton has an abnormally large crime rate. I have yet to experience much of this (I don’t live in the ghetto). I believe it is mostly drug related. In this mid-west state there isn’t much going on, so boredom must drive the Ohioites to the usual substitute for real living.
I’ve been here since St. Patrick’s Day 1989. I was 9 when I moved here from northern New Jersey. At first I thought the people here are much nicer then the east coast. This isn’t completely true. People are just less blunt and forward and give the appearance of kindness. This is merely niceness and is more of a surface thing, where kindness is more of a charitable heart thing. It has taken a long time to get the blunted approach out of my system.
I’ve been mostly pessimistic of Dayton until this past year. I once asked a man from Jamaica I met at the bus stop downtown why he moved here and if he liked Jamaica a lot better. My assumption was that of course he liked Jamaica better. It’s tropical and had lots of dread-locked people. But he said people are people where ever you go. And that made about as much sense as anything.
While visiting the Oakwood (the relatively rich part of town) Star-buck’s one evening I had to drain the quickly consumed dark roast brew pulsating through my bladder. Upon the exiting of caffeinated goodness I stared upon a small defacement in direct view of my urination gaze. It said something to the matter of “Dayton = Depressing.” And that day I was in an extra Dayton sucks mood. Next to this someone responded with more words of wisdom I can’t clearly recall, “you are the one making it depressing.” It most likely said something else, but we’ll pretend it said that. The idea is that life is what you make of it, mind over matter, etc. Though I’ve heard this all my life, it was really hard to apply it to Dayton.
I decided to accept this wisdom and run with it. This past year has changed a lot for me. I finally have become content with this city and have experienced more of it in one year then I have in the previous seventeen. I have gotten to meet some great people and found decent things to bring the desired amount of diversification to my daily routine.
I always wanted to go to California. It seemed to be the antonym of Ohio. Lots of different people, better weather, and palm trees. Well, I’m in Sacramento as I write this. I first came to CA last October. I visited San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento in 11 days. Came back out to Hollywood on Memorial Day (quite memorial indeed) and now. It is extremely different from Dayton, yet there are the unavoidable familiarities. Lots of consumerism and people with attitudes just like Dayton and New Jersey. I could write about this all day, but the point is there are people everywhere and benefits and downfalls to everything. City-data.com has a forum about leaving California for Dayton. Lots of different opinions here, but they are accurate.
So, here is what to do about Dayton, OH.
1. Smile! We need more of that. I always loved to visit small restaurants in Texas where the waitress you’ve never met before treats you like a regular, calls you honey, and is goofy as…um…Goofy?
2. I’ve met a few who are making things happen. Coming together with others and creating worthwhile events. This is only possible with a positive attitude toward our city.
3. Accept those outside of your cultural boundaries. Even if there isn’t much you have in common and you may never be best friends, the open-mindedness to not snub someone because of their clothes is a good and inexpensive practice.
*this article was featured on October 13, 2007