When Dayton united in May to rally against the message of hate spread by a group associated with the KKK, Brenden Wynn wondered how long that sense of togetherness would last.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have a choice to (stay connected) because things kept happening,” said Wynn, an organizer of TEDxDayton’s 2019 signature event, Connect.
The event is associated with the TED, an international nonprofit that has people share ideas. TEDxDayton’s Connect on Oct. 11 at Dayton’s Victoria Theatre included performances and speakers.
Wynn and others we spoke to at the event say they hope the spirit of togetherness and cooperative strength Daytonians have exhibited in wake of the Aug. 4 Oregon District shooting and the Memorial Day tornadoes that hit in the days after the KKK-affiliated group rallied here continues.
But even more, Wynn — the co-chair of the TEDxDayton speakers and performers committee — says he hopes good spreads.
“I hope we can continue to take those efforts and apply it to the west side of Dayton,” he said, mentioning the themes expressed in a TEDxDayton talk presented by Kenston Henderson Sr. on racial reconciliation. “It is going to take people literally crossing the bridge. Let’s put in the effort we put into our historic neighborhoods (into the rest of the city).”
Attendee LaVar Glover, the director of self sufficiency at Miami Valley Community Action Partnership, said he’d like to see the community come together when there is no tragedy.
He calls for “kitchen table” conversation and that people relate to each other in authentic ways.
“Just continued to build on our love efforts,” he said.
Carol Narigon, a resident of Dayton’s Huffman neighborhood and adjunct instructor at Wright State University, said the tragedies “brought out the best of us instead of destroying us.”
“We’ve been energized to connect with each other and just do better,” she told us. “I think people have been called to volunteer, and they will continue to do that.”
Dayton is a city of innovation, Narigon added.
“We are a small city, and we are used to taking care of business ourselves,” she said. “We are hard workers.”
Bryan Lakatos, the co-chair of TEDxYouth@Dayton, said Daytonians doubled down in challenging times and use those times as impetuses to do more.
“When people talk ‘Dayton Strong,’ what ‘Dayton Strong’ (means) is that we use things that happen to us — good or bad — to keep going (forward),” he said. “Here is an opportunity to continue to do the work.”
TEDxDayton speaker Estelle Gibson said conversation is key to the community success.
“I think we are still healing, which I don’t think is a bad thing,” she said. “It created a foundation for people moving forward.”
Community volunteer Craig Schrolucke, a resident of Dayton’s South Park neighborhood, said events like TEDxDayton and Gem City Shine are important because they bring people together to reconnect.
“We see each other,” said Schrolucke, a former TEDxDayton organizer. “I think it is an important part of the healing process.”
Schrolucke, the senior director of mission engagement and communication at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton, said the community is more connected than it has ever been.
He urged people not to retreat back to their selves in the months to come.
“We are not forgetting what happened, but are finding ways to stay connected,” he said.
Jennie Hempstead, a TEDxDayton speaker, said Dayton is exhibiting its strength in big and small ways.
“We are completely changed from where we were at the beginning of May. I think everyone is very inspirational and aspirational,” the Beavercreek resident and Ohio University graduate said. “We are finding a new sense of pride.”
Centerville resident Jason Sanders says he has witnessed great growth in Dayton the last few years.
“I am still excited to see the direction the city is going in,” the CareSource employee said. “My key is that I am continually trying to live my best life, and I try to do the best I can for others when I have the opportunity.”