There is a buzz in the air of this town these days that is growing. But it isn’t the buzz
we are used to hearing – it is the kind of buzz that is much more likely to make an impact on the future success of Dayton than the typical buzz you are used to hearing.
Typical buzz we’ve heard in the past include things like "Fifth Third Field", "RiverScape", "Schuster Center", "Downtown Condos", "The Greene", "New Arcade Idea", etc. And these days the buzz is "New Caresource Building", "Ballpark Village", "More Downtown Condos", "Yet Another New Arcade Idea", etc. While most of these have been a success, others will likely be a success, and some remain to be seen – they are more about bricks, profits and the ever-so popular phrase "economic development". Yes, many of these developments have had a positive impact on our city and region, but it is very doubtful that any have caused people to want to relocate to our region or have prevented people from wanting to leave.
This new buzz I have mentioned is about two new groups that have formed in our city’s inner core – Generation Dayton and The Circus. Though I am not a member of either group (yet?), I have friends in both. The following is my non-expert personal take on the who’s and what’s that they represent. They are about as polar opposite as you can get in terms of the types
of people that have created them, but it is what these two groups have in common
that might make their impact on Dayton many times greater than even the
largest "economic development" project we have or will ever see.
Generation Dayton is the more established of the two groups as it has been together for a few years, having been started by a small group of young up-and-coming professionals and evolving into a 300+ organization under the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. They organize social and networking events, professional development functions and community service projects. Though their group is diverse, they are typically young college-educated professionals between the ages of 21 and 40. There are a significant number of young "suits" in this mix, but the group has a diversity of occupations and they all represent the future corporate and government leaders of Greater Dayton.
The Circus is a brand new group of various local artists and
bohemian types who have banded together to form a centralized community in which people of all different personalities and backgrounds (cultural, economic, racial and otherwise) can come together to interact, collaborate and simply do whatever it is they do. They are painters, musicians, writers, actors and poets who are getting organized so that they can obtain a physical space for their community members to be creative in and absorb the creativity around them. And while they are just getting started, I can tell you from having met a few of them that they are serious about their mission.
If the Generation Dayton set can be characterized by Dayton Racquet Club power lunches and Cafe Boulevard martinis, the Circus is Cannery Arts & Design Centre open houses and Jasper Wall Creative Sound Cafe expressos. Like I mentioned before – polar opposites. But as different as these groups may seem, they both have much in common. The often talked about "Creative Class"
can be equally claimed by each of these groups. Because of our generation’s unique dynamics, neither group is necessarily exclusive to each other. In fact there is a strong possibility that despite their obvious differences, these groups may find ways to create synergies and help each other rather than act like islands (a mistake made by so many of our region’s currently established groups and communities). They both seem to understand the importance, uniqueness and attractiveness of our urban core and are likely to make it their home base rather than some isolated location out in sprawl land. And most importanly is the fact that these groups were formed not by some special city committee or government task force – they were formed by regular citizens who decided that they wanted to do something to bring people together and build something to be proud of.
Of all the differences and similarities between Generation Dayton and The Circus, it is their common missions that are most noteworthy – encourage our younger (and not so younger) population to come together, form new friendships and networks, and ultimately silence the squelchers out there and do something no new building or shopping mall can do – give people a real reason to say "I am part of this community that values what I do and I am PROUD to be a Daytonian!".