FRONTLINE and its partners at ProPublica had a lot of things correct in acclaimed
reporter Alec MacGillis’ new piece “Left Behind America.”
Poverty and hunger are a major issue here.
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One in 6 people in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties do not know where their next meal will come from, according to the The Dayton Foodbank.
The national opioid crisis has destroyed far too many local families.
Our streets bear the scars of the great recession in the form of abandoned storefronts and decaying homes.
A deep racial divide still looms over a community still dealing with the effects of the great recession and NCR’s decision to jump ship for Atlanta in 2009, taking with it hundreds and hundreds of good paying jobs.
Things are far from perfect in Dayton or its surrounding communities (the smaller local municipalities MacGillis oddly sliced from the discussion about a topic impacting the Dayton region), but things are far from as bleak as portrayed in MacGillis’ 60-minute profile “of one Rust Belt city’s struggle to recover in the post-recession economy.”
Some have called the piece a “hit piece” or “poverty porn,” and it drew ire from many — Holly Allen of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce included.
We couldn’t include everything. But here are some key omissions:
1) THE SHOW FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE DAYTON’S ONGOING INNOVATION
The documentary devoted large chunks to Dayton’s past as the Silicon Valley of its day, but aside for a few seconds, overlooked the innovation happening today related to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the state’s largest single site employer.
The GE Aviation EPISCenter in Dayton researches electrical power in aviation uses. It employs about 335 GE Aviation employees in Vandalia and about 1,600 total employees at three Dayton-area sites — including Unison Industries Dayton in Beavercreek and TDI-GE Aviation, also in Vandalia.
In March, the Air Force Research Laboratory and Wright Brothers Institute signed a lease for the “innovation district” on Second Street.
In terms of innovation, we can go on and on.
2) THE SHOW FAILED TO REFLECT DAYTON’S CAN-DO SPIRIT
The Gem City Market and its mission to address Dayton’s food deserts with its people deserves more than a brief mention.
Launched in 2015, The Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative is about 40 percent toward its $4.2 million capital campaign goal for the co-op market.
The community’s spirit also helped propel the Fifth Street Brewpub, a tavern that has helped revitalize Dayton’s St. Anne's Hill neighborhood and is why Dayton has a brand new outdoor concert venue Levitt Pavilion.
Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton raised $5 million for the pavilion that offers free concerts in about two years for the efforts.
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3) THE SHOW FAILED TO RECOGNIZE DAYTON’S TENACITY
You can see it at work all over the community from Juanita Darden-Jones at Third Perk Coffeehouse and Wine Bar to the work Joshua Brown and Tony Clark are doing at DK Effect in Dayton’s Huffman neighborhood, to Sofi Kinde’s work at Nanya Café in Harrison Twp. to the Castros at El Meson in West Carrollton to Emma Smales at Smales Pretzel Bakery in Twin Towers.
That’s just people in food and beverage.
4) THE SHOW FAILED TO SEE DAYTON’S HEART
You see it in the work being done by the East End Community Center and by Yvette Kelly-Field at Wesley Community Center; the commitment to the community exhibited by workers at United Rehabilitation Service, the Rubi Girls; The Dayton Foodbank, the House of Bread, One Bistro, the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood... on and on and on.
5) THE SHOW FAILED TO SEE THE TRANSFORMATIVE BEAUTY OF DAYTON’S ART
The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is world-renowned. The Dayton Art Institute is consistently bringing interesting new exhibits. Dayton Visual Arts Center provides “art for the community and a community for artists.” K12 & TEJAS Gallery support young and young-and-heart artists.
Murals created by a list of artists that include Tiffany Clark and her partner Christopher "Etch" Weyrich of the Mural Machine and Morris Howard and Brittini Long, Montgomery County Juvenile Court’s Reclaiming Futures Community Engagement Coordinator are transforming rundown structures into pieces of art.
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This is not to mention the growth of the arts community in the Front Street Buildings and other part of the area being dubbed the East Dayton Arts District or the performing arts showcased at the Schuster Center, Victoria Theatre and Dayton’s community theaters.
6) THE SHOW MISSED THE STORY OF GROWTH OF DOWNTOWN DAYTON
Little more than a sentence is given to the fact that once-abandoned buildings are now filled by business as if it is nothing.
The occupancy rate for apartments in downtown Dayton is 97.3 percent, according to the Downtown Dayton Partnership.
Since 2010, two years after the 2008 recession, more than $1.13 billion has been invested in downtown Dayton, according to the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan.
CareSource and a long list of bars, breweries and restaurants have invested big time in downtown and its surrounding historic neighborhoods. Last year alone, the list included Mudlick Tap House, Lock 27 Brewing, 416 Diner, Canal Street Arcade and Deli, Agnes & Orson and Puff Apothecary.
Brand new housing options include Monument Walk, Delco Loft and The Wheelhouse.
7) THE SHOW OVERLOOKED HOW WELCOMING DAYTON REALLY IS
You see this in this not only in the Welcome to Dayton immigrant program, but also in our many ethnic and harvest festivals, fundraising galas and community engagement organizations and programs like UpDayton, the Longest Table; TedXDayton and PechaKucha and the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame.
8) THE SHOW MISSED THE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES HERE
The Miami Valley is strong with institutions of higher learning. Just consider University of Dayton, Wright State University, Wilberforce University and Central State University. Sinclair Community College offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the state.
FRONTLINE overlooked the fact that Dayton supports a brand new state-of-the-art library downtown.
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9) THE SHOW MISSED OUR COMMITMENT TO LEARNING FROM OUR HISTORY OF INNOVATION
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force attracts more than 1 million visitors each. You can spend a week at Dayton History at Carillon Park (which now is officially a national Wright Brothers historical site) and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s sites including The Paul Laurence Dunbar House and the Wright Cycle Community Building.
10) THE SHOW MISSED DAYTON
Dayton is far more than a “fill in the blank,” rust belt city.
Its people are also very forgiving.