Dayton Loves Art?

As many of you know, the City of Dayton is facing a 6 million dollar budget shortfall for 2010.  There is talk of raising taxes and further cutting bare bones services – city officials are asking residents to mow the lawns on vacant lots.  In an atmosphere of all this trimming, you might think that the city would be, well, trimming themselves – focusing on essentials.   That is not the case.  We are told that yesterday a City of Dayton representative called one of our favorite Dayton Loving Knitters after hours and told her that someone witnessed her installing knitted art on Fifth Street; since she did not get the correct permits, the City would be removing the yarn and sending her a bill for the removal. Whoa!

Daytonians, is this cool with you!? Your tax dollars at work here, and for what… most likely one neighbor (a sour apple in the Oregon District –sound familiar?) complained to a buddy at the City about the art instillation and gave him this one Knitter’s name and telephone number.  Meanwhile, the City is cutting back on police services and is unable to take care of painting over spray painted foul language, overgrown lots and vacant buildings. The non-permanent knitted art instillation in question, an art form which has been embraced by literally hundreds of communities around the world (including the London Olympics), has received positive response in our own community.   Thriving cites around the world have the sense to appreciate art installations and recognize that art is the very heartbeat of a city.  We should nurture that heartbeat not stamp it in to the ground. You better weigh in here people!  Let your City Government know that you support our public art by contacting Mayor Gary Leitzell, Commissioner Dean Lovelace, Commissioner Joey Williams, Commissioner Matt Joseph and Commissioner Nan Whaley.

Update: We have been informed that the issue has been moved from Public Works to John Gower’s Office -Planning & Community Development (937) 333-3670. They reportedly have received a number of calls today from a variety of people who have requested that the art both be removed and let alone…

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Knitters Love Dayton

Have you noticed that knit and crochet graffiti has made it’s way to downtown Dayton? If you have ventured down 5th street recently, you’ve seen brightly knitted lampposts and street signs in areas that were previously desolate and unattractive.  Yellow Springs was the first Dayton area city to join the trend and they have received praise and accolades from press as far away as Oregon – State that is, not District.  It makes sense that we see these Yarn Bombs, as they are called, sprouting up in the Oregon District. It is, after all, the regions newest and most active Arts’ District.

What’s this all about you ask?  One of the founders of the movement Magda Sayeg, sums up the movement effectively:  “ It’s a collective’s response to the mass-produced.  By inserting handmade art in a landscape of concrete and steel, they were cheekily adding warmth to our urban fixtures. Knit graffiti reengages us with our environment: the parking meters, buses, bike racks, lamp posts, car antennas, columns, statues, exposed plumbing, all of the furniture in our urban world that goes unnoticed every day.”  And of course, Knitta [Sayeg’s knitting crew] makes the streets prettier along the way. Two other Mothers of the knit graffiti culture, Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain explain all this subversive knitting to readers in their book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. They also author a blog called yarnbombing, which chronicles Moore and Prain’s research into knit (and crochet) graffiti groups from around the world.  They explain the movement another way: “Knit graffiti” is an international guerrilla movement that started underground and is now embraced by crochet and knitting artists of all ages, nationalities, and genders. Its practitioners create stunning works of art out of yarn, then ‘donate’ them to public spaces as part of a covert plan for world yarn domination.”

We see this as a wonderful development for Dayton, showing the world that the city is loved and connected with a community that wants to wrap knitted arms around it. What do you think about those yarn bombs popping up in the Oregon District?

Oregon Community Garden Update

Well folks, we have to apologize for not being very good bloggers these past few weeks. We have been following the progress of Oregon District neighbors working very hard to make the Oregon Community Garden a reality. Here is the scoop:

At a recent Oregon District function permission was given by the owner of the vacant lot at the corner of 6th and Brown to repurpose the lot as a community garden. Neighbors in the Oregon District, old and young, worked together to make the project happen. One neighbor was able to garner a donation of some 200 organic, heirloom vegetable plants from Deal’s Landscaping. The plants were mature, root bound and needed to be planted in two weeks time. Well, this band of Would Be Gardeners worked many hours to jump through all the proverbial hoops. A Certificate of Appropriateness was obtained. Beneficiaries were approached and pledged enough seed money to pay for four demonstration beds which would house the Deal’s plants. A crew was assembled to build the beds and soil and compost were sourced. Time was of the essence to make use of the plants but the Would Be Gardeners heard that some neighbors were concerned that the garden not be similar to Garden Station (which the Concerned Neighbors consider “shabby looking”). In an effort to reassure the Concerned Neighbors and demonstrate that the garden would be tidy and historically appropriate, CAD drawings were drafted showing that the garden would be laid out in a formal style similar to an English potager garden. The drawings depict a lovely raised bed garden laid out like a compass on the lot with an herb spiral in the center. The Concerned Neighbors seemed appeased, even encouraging but then, unwilling to directly communicate with the Would Be Gardeners, sent word through an intermediary that that they had changed their minds. They want to put a meadow on the lot…  yah a meadow. Well to make a long story short, one particularly vocal Concerned Neighbor, who believes that all community gardens are shabby, derailed the project, the plants died and the Would Be Gardeners became depressed. They were sad for the loss of the plants and for the loss of the many hours spent trying to transform the lot from a vacant unused space into an asset to their community. But, they were also sad because one sour neighbor was able to bring the entire project to and end. We are told these Pollyannaish Would Be Gardeners spent some time sulking and then picked up the pieces and moved on.  Currently they are working on locating another place for the Garden. Right now they are rushing against time again to try to bring the Oregon Community Garden to life on a little plot of land on Park Manor Grounds.

We will keep you posted of their progress…

Furbish Wayne Ave Overpass

With the recent beautification of the train overpass on Wayne Avenue by Fourth Street and Garden Station we were thinking it would be a good time to extend that forward momentum down Wayne Avenue to the 35 overpass between the Oregon District and South Park.

Three things we’d like to accomplish:

  1. Trim back the plants.  The wild plants on both sides of the overpass have become overgrown.  A couple hours of neighborhood clean up and a good pruning will eliminate a current safety issue on the overpass.
  2. Better lighting. This could be done by simply changing out the bulbs in the existing lamps for brighter bulbs or by tying more lamps into the existing system.
  3. A mural.  The murals on the Fourth Street train overpass have helped Garden Station transform a formerly sparse area into an inviting environment. We will need some talented muralists to tackle the slanting walls and large columns of the 35 overpass, but given the overwhelming number of ideas presented for murals on Fourth Street and Garden Station, we know the talent is in Dayton!

We hope that we will be able to fund this initiative by combining resources from both the Oregon District and South Park.  Do you have other ideas for how to improve the overpass?  Let us know what they are!

Love it!

Oregon Art & Farm Market

Delectable Dayton’s latest plan for transforming our city: initiating a Sunday Farmers Market on 5th Street in the Oregon District. We are petitioning to get 5th Street closed on Sundays during the summer and fall months to host a craft, flea and farmers market. The market will provide needed Sunday foot traffic for the existing business in the Oregon District and an outlet for the Dayton region’s artists and farmers.  The Art & Farm Market will focus on local produce (including a drop off location for CSA or farm shares) and an invitation to the vendors from the 2nd Street Market to purvey one more day of the week. Area DIY artists and crafters will be invited to exhibit and covered space will be available for art, antiques and flea market items. The objective is to create an affordable, regular venue for local artist, farmers and dealers to sell their items downtown. One stop shopping; an opportunity to support local talent and come together with our community, who could ask for more?  If you’re interested in participating or helping us make it happen, let us know!

Dog Runs Increase Property Values

There has been much speculation as to what should be done with the paved area in the Oregon District’s Newcom Park. Some suggest it should be transformed into a Bocce Ball Court; others think there is enough room to put in a Skating Rink. We think it would make a wonderful dog run and could become a great asset to the community.  Creating leash free open spaces for responsible pet owners has been shown to have numerous benefits to the surrounding community. There are so many reasons that this would be great for the Oregon District and as an added bonus, it is a proven fact that Dog runs/parks increase property values in urban neighborhoods!

  • Dog parks add to the livability of a densely populated area with small yards;
  • Well-exercised dogs are tired dogs, and tired dogs are good neighbors;
  • Dog parks create a sense of community;
  • Dog parks draw pedestrians to local business districts;
  • Dog parks discourage crime and loitering ;
  • Most trainers will agree that dogs socialize best in open areas because they are on neutral territory and not constrained by their leashes.

A dog run in no way prevents neighbors from enjoying the health benefits of walking a dog but it does provide a resource for pet owners who are in ill health or short on time – pets that might not be exercised at all otherwise.  Dog runs reduce the number of pets being walked off leash on streets and in parks, a practice that creates stress and anxiety for many including neighbors with small dogs and children.

The dog run could be created with very little expense. The existing paved area would remain and attractive fencing and benches would be added as well as a water source. The American Kennel Club which advocates for dog runs and dog parks has rules of conduct which would be adopted for safety and comfort.  Please visit: http://www.akc.org/canine_legislation/dogpark.cfm for more information. And, if you live in the District, give a Board Member a call and let them know what you think!