Creator Space – Frozen in Time in 2015

(This is a piece written for the final exhibit of The Collaboration Accelerator 1.0, which took place at ArtStreet’s White Box Gallery at the University of Dayton in August 2015.  The piece is meant to showcase the ideas that the thirteen collaboration accelerator interns came up with over the course of the summer, as well as a fun and hopeful look at the vast possibilities for the future of Dayton by the year 2050.)

Welcome to the ArtStreet Creator Space at the University of Dayton! This room should remind you all of 2015, as it has been frozen in time in order to display the creative thought process that thirteen young individuals underwent in the Summer of 2015. The thirteen students, one of which was a recent graduate, had eight different majors and therefore brought unique perspectives into the project. Brought together through the Collaboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and the University of Dayton (UD), the “Collaboration Accelerators” as they were called, were given two challenges that Summer. The first was a commercialization challenge for AFRL Researcher Paul Fleitz, in which the challenge team was encouraged to find the best application for a proximity sensor. The second challenge was to find the best way to increase the senses of pride, unity and connectivity throughout the Dayton region. Throughout this narrative, the bold information will explain what we have here in Dayton in 2050. The other sections will explain the thought process and the ideation of the Collaboration Accelerators in the Summer of 2015, as they went about completing the two challenges mentioned above.

As the thirteen Collaboration Accelerators delved into the heart of Dayton and began to understand what made this city unique, one thing became very clear early on: this region is a hub for innovation. From the ice cube tray to the ice cream cone, the cash register, and a little thing called an airplane, countless life-changing inventions have come from the spawns of this forward-thinking city. The Accelerators began to realize through their newfound knowledge of Dayton’s bright past, that the city still shined, but in the 2015 Dayton, it had a new light.

There has never been a lack of creativity and innovation within the borders of Dayton; that still holds true today, in 2050, thanks to the Collaboration Accelerators, who began a movement 35 years ago to help turn the city into a nationally known center for big ideas and forward-thinking novelty.

This new light shined bright to these students, who ran with it and saw that Dayton’s next big step forward began with a focus on the brilliant and creative young people in their city. As thirteen young people with different majors and unique ways of thinking, the ice between their differences was broken with the help of ArtStreet’s Institute for Arts Nexus (IAN) at the University of Dayton. Another interesting aspect of their summer long internship was that the thirteen students would live together in four apartments at the ArtStreet Complex, in the center of the UD student neighborhood. The hope was that conversations would continue past work time, sparking new ideas and thoughts for the projects in unlikely situations. The IAN Curriculum taught these students to understand that creativity is all around them and that harnessing the confidence to innovate that creativity could change the world. The key to that realization was that the students began to look everywhere for unique things in Dayton that went unnoticed, but had the potential to be true “Gems.”

If you would ask anyone from Dayton where they are from today, in 2050, they would say “I’m from Gem City,” and the amazing thing about that is that most people, no matter where in the country you are, would say, “Oh yeah, Dayton, Ohio, right?” Built into a center for innovation, everyone in the country knows of the city covered in gems. There are murals on every building and the city is bright and inviting. People from the suburbs love coming downtown, and cityfolk love to head out to the suburbs. The Monorail weaves around and through buildings and out to every surrounding town. There are more bikes than cars on just about every street. The art is not just confined to downtown, but in all the surrounding areas as well, forming a powerful sense of unity under the umbrella of the Gem City.

“What if the Mendelson’s water tower was one huge gem? What if every abandoned building was covered in giant murals? What if the community felt welcomed to come into the city and create art of their own? What if somehow, just somehow, the art and the various things that make this city unique, could be built into a unifying factor for everyone in the region?” These are just some of the questions that the students began to ask each other, thinking up a city in the future that would be covered in gems, art, and innovation. Although most of the Accelerators had barely left UD’s campus in their time at the school, they began to see that there was so much to offer off campus and that many people simply did not recognize the immense variety of things to do. The idea for the gems came from a 2013 project in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in which a group similar to the Collaboratory set up a giant chalkboard square to prompt the community with thought-provoking questions. The team in Dayton decided to construct a chalkboard gem (as part of their initiative Project Gem City {PGC})to prompt the community. By combining the gem with their urban art installation, the students decided to reach out to businesses and artists in the area to incorporate a new way of connecting the businesses that make this city unique. The most important factor, however, was the engagement of the Dayton community by inviting the people they were trying to reach to offer their voice and vow to be part of the movement. It would take a collaborative effort, combined with the support of all involved, to reach their vision of a more connected Dayton.

Dayton in 2050 is known as a place where young, creative minds are ever-present, but more importantly as a place where these innovative young people work together. The Collaboration Accelerators from that pilot program in 2015 analyzed the Dayton region for several weeks before they began deciding on the next steps. They looked at problems in Dayton as well as solutions that they would like to see in the future, and then they brainstormed about the middle-ground; how do they get to that solution? In the gallery space, you will see that they chose four main areas as the focus of their solution to Dayton’s connectivity issue: Education, Creativity, Happy and Healthy. They believed that these four areas would be the foundation upon which Dayton could reach its potential, and here in 2050, Dayton has a plethora of each of those four topics.

Remember that Proximity Sensor Challenge that the Collaboration Accelerators were also working on back in the Summer of 2015? Although the students began to fall in love with the city of Dayton, they also had another challenge that deserved their attention. Rather than split into groups to attack these two challenges, they chose to collaborate together on both projects, which led to some interesting conclusions. With so many possibilities to go with the sensor challenge, the group organized over 100 ideas and voted democratically to narrow down to the five with the most potential and feasibility. However, in the end, the sensor project connected heavily with the other challenge, as the students decided on a sensor that would help bicyclists sense vehicles approaching from behind.

With the introduction of the Link Bike in Dayton in 2015, the idea for a bicycle safety proximity sensor came about at just the right time. In 2017 the RTA signed on the deal to add the R.I.T.E. Cycle Sensors to all of the Link Bikes as well as all of their transportation vehicles. Before long, the city of Dayton required that all vehicles, including bicycles, were required to use this equipment in order to make this city the safest in the country for those riding bikes.

Shortly after the Collaboration Accelerators 1.0 internship came to a close in August of 2015, the internship was renewed for future Summers. As more people jumped on board with the mission of the program, the changes that those original students had hoped to see started to become realities in Dayton. It was not long before young entrepreneurs and creative individuals began flocking to the region and the boom exploded. Here, in 2050, downtown Dayton is filled with residential buildings and the city is able to easily retain the talent that it attracts with all of the innovative, fun and interesting aspects it has to offer. Now with over 100 majorly successful pop-up shops and new connections with AFRL as well as the UD Research Institute and Vision Lab, Dayton has kept its status as a hub for innovation and creativity. The sense of pride and unity in the Gem City is unlike it ever has been before, and as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, people from any and all backgrounds feel welcomed and a part of the Dayton community.

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