Bryan Stewart admits he has ulterior motives for wanting to keep young adults in the Dayton area.
“It just makes Dayton a more fun city to live in,” said Stewart, the legislative aide to Dayton City Commissioner Christopher Shaw and a University of Dayton graduate student. “Ideally those will be people starting their own companies or leading (existing) companies.”
Stewart, the founder of The Longest Table Dayton, was raised in Oakwood and Dayton’s Belmont neighborhood, where his parents lived.
His father Dennis Stewart is a security guard and a former owner of the Walnut Hills Bar.
His mother, Linda Hart, works in sales and marketing.
Stewart said his upbringing helped make him a serious extrovert.
“It exposed me to a lot of different walks of life,” he said.
The Longest Table, an UpDayton Summit winning project, holds monthly dinners and encourages community dialogue.
Stewart said he sees the potential in young people and the power of politics to make positive change for people.
“Sometimes it can be so toxic and nauseating, but it is so important,” Stewart, the social chair for the Montgomery County Young Democats, said of politics.
We caught up with Bryan Stewart, the latest Daytonian of the Week.
What superpower would you love to have?
The cosmic power of the Silver Surfer.
What inspired you to create the Longest Table?
It all started from a tweet from a mentor. Around the same time, I began to notice the organic potential of Dayton’s neighborhood organizations. I saw Tallahassee’s Longest Table meal and conversation as a way we could start to connect different pockets of Dayton.
What is your vision for the city?
Diverse, dense urban living. Innovative and colliding community spaces with fun programming. Highlighting our past but also punching out of our weight class in new areas of health care, aviation and manufacturing.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
Young people have real agency in Dayton. People are Midwest friendly. It’s affordable and you can make things happen here with a lot less obstacles.
Why do you care?
I’ve had a handful of life experiences that radically shook my take on what’s fair and what’s guaranteed. I’ve had a lot of incredible opportunities, and I want to share those chances with others. I used to say I love politics, but in reality I think what I actually love is community building and development.
What is the future of politics?
Less transactional and more connected. The future of politics lies in more direct communication with elected officials, more direct opportunities for learning about policy, and more direct ways to actively engage in community development. Social media’s potential is definitely not where it could be. I see more hands-on ways for citizens to get involved in the process and actively engaging in their neighborhoods.
What is your favorite Dayton guilty pleasure?
The Jalisco Burrito at Taqueria Mixteca on Third Street.
What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
Whatever my girlfriend wants, but usually that means Link biking to dinner, snagging a beer at a local brewery, then a show at the Neon.
Where do you go for a great time?
Black Box Improv. They deliver every time.
What would you change about Dayton?
Stereotypes. Peoples’ fear to cross the river.
What should "outsiders" know about life here?
Faux, forced, urban environments are being rejected by millennials. We’re moving downtown, we’re moving closer to cool amenities we can walk or ride a bike to and there’s huge potential in this trend. "Outsiders" should start more businesses and offices in this space because it’s only going to grow.