Friday, August 31, 2007

The Longest Running Reggae Festival in the Midwest.

Yes indeed! Right here in Dayton Ohio! Close out the summer with the Dayton Reggae Festival, 1PM to 8 PM this Sunday at Dave Hall Plaza, with an after-show at the Trolley Stop. Six bands, with a closing jam session. And admission is free.

Save the Arcade Ralley...a Gloomy Noon on CH Square

Freinds to Save the Arcade held this information rally on Court House Square this past Thurday. The "Dayton Gloom" also atteneded, but no rain.

They stretched this banner across the Arcade entrance:

The activity was on the square, though, with a tent (loaned from the County), PA system, and MC being Betty Rogge, who is/was a local TV personality. She is in the pink sweater, to the right, interviewing Leon Bey, one of the organizers of FSA

The entertainment was this bagpipe player. I really appreciated this as I am a celtic music fan and really like the pipes. What could be cool, in the future, is to have him lead a Save the Arcade march around the Arcade buildings.
For more pix, click here

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Economically Disadvantaged in Dayton Suburbia

There’s a good discussion going at Urban Ohio about the recent American Community Survey poverty data. Dayton comes in at 28.8% (of its population in poverty). No surprise there.
I think what’s more interesting is not the number or increase/decrease of folks below the official poverty line (which is set pretty low) but more broader decline in economic fortunes or downward mobility, maybe not to the poverty level, but just above it.

One can use the Ohio education data sets to do an indirect measurement of the growth or decline of economic stress in a community. One group of data sets, extending back to the early 2000s’, provides the percentage of "economically disadvantaged" students in a district. One can use this similar to the way I used the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) claims to track increases in lower income filers in Kettering, as an indirect measure of declining economic fortunes.

Using Kettering again as an example, one finds a steady growth in economically disadvantaged students for the past few years, which is in line with the EITC data I was looking at.

Adding other school districts in Montgomery County one can see some trends:.

One thing to note is some big spikes, which makes me think there might be some problems with this data, as some of these very large jumps in one year seem unrealistic:
Taking out the spikes, one can see a cluster of districts with a lot of disadvantaged kids, then Mad River in the middle, and then a cluster of suburban districts with lower numbers of disadvantaged students
Taking a closer look at this suburban cluster, one sees some areas with steady increases in disadvantaged students. The biggest jump seems to be in New Lebanon, Vandalia & West Carrolton:
Mapping it out, one can see areas where there are a lot of economically disadvantaged students, and suburban areas that are seeing the larger increases:

The state has this data down to the school level, so one can track the increases in economically disadvantaged students by elementary, middle, and high school, if one wants to.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Educational Color Line in Montgomery County

The recent discussion on schools at Esrati, For the Love of Dayton and the excellent Dayton Daily News "Get on the Bus" blog led to me to surf into the Ohio Department of Education website, which turns out to be a great resource for information, as they publish all sorts of info, available for download in Excel format or as .pdf.

If one is so inclined one can run one's own numbers on school districts, both as comparisons, and as time series, as data goes back to 2001 (depending on the level of detail). The near term data has demographic shreds and sub shreds, and has it down to the school building level, which is pretty granular. The data is suppressed for confidentiality purposes for small counts (which is what the census does, too).

Since there was a bit of controversy about a Fairborn officials remarks that the black students scores lowered his districts overall score, I decided to look at racial composition and comparisons, which in this area is pretty much black and white, as other "racial' groups like Asians and Latinos are not in large numbers, under 10% in all cases, and under 5% in most cases.

Starting out with some basic demographics of the student population, showing black and white percentages for the various school districts in Montgomery County (I only looked at Montgomery here). What's interesting is the relatively high percentage of blacks in districts one would not thing of having a minority presence, such as Huber Heights and Northmont. And also how lily white western Montgomery County is.

Then looking at some scores by school grade and "race” for math and science and reading and writing, for the Dayton school district, as it has been in the news so much. These are the percent of students testing at or above proficiency for the various subjects, at different grade levels...

What is striking here is the relatively high scores for the 11th grade, across the board. What would account for that one wonders?

Were these high school students better prepared, or have the poor performers dropped out by the 11th grade, and we are seeing just the better students?

And there is also that drop in the 4th to 5th grade math scores, where these cohorts are testing a lot worse than the younger kids, and the older age groups. Maybe something up with that test?

Now lets take a look at black students' scores in districts having a larger amount of black students, comparing between districts

It seems all over the place, but note Northmont. Northmont is one of the top three districts in Montgomery County, achieving an unqualified "excellent" rating on the recent report card, and one can see black students scores in this district are pretty high relative to other districts with significant amounts of black students. Also, that 4th-5th drop in math scores one sees in Dayton appears in the suburban districts as well.

Getting back to the Fairborn officials' complaint. Do blacks drag down scores? It depends on the district. I took the average of the percentages for both white and black students for all grade levels, and then subtracted to find the gap between white and black scores. Note that this could be either a gap either way. For example in Trotwood-Madison white students under perform black students in certain subject for certain age cohorts. One sees this in other districts, too.

So a smaller gap would show that the district is doing a good job teaching both blacks and whites, while a higher gap shows less of an equality of outcomes, where one group is not being brought along at the same rate as the other.

Again, Northmont ranks the best, with the smallest gap between racial groups, and does this without lowering overall scoring, as it has a higher % of black students yet ranks higher on the school report card then some "whiter" districts.

I am not a social scientist, so this is just a seat-of-the-pants interpretation. I do think its interesting to see how Dayton's 11th grade proficiency is really not too bad, given the bad press we have been hearing.

Riverscape Flowers and Fountain

I was downtown for the Lebanese Festival this weekend and passed by Riverscape, and was thinking that this park is pretty close to European quality when it comes to landscaping.

The most “European’ thing about it is the flowers. American urban parks usually don’t have a lot of flowering plants as landscape features, unless they are an arboretum or a special feature like a rose garden. Riverscape is different as there is a quite a selection or ornamentals and flowers, in planting beds and in hanging baskets. They are not slacking off on the maintenance, either, as the plantings are weeded and watered and tended to...Bill at Dayton Most Metro has a good blog post (and fab pix) about the big fountain where the rivers come together at Deeds Point, on how they are fixing the fountain controls so it will work again. There has been a lot of the usual negativity and whining about the fountain and why built one in the first place.

The idea for the fountain, like the rest of Riverscape, came from the public via workshops conducted by EDAW, the design consultant. This was a sort of winnowing process, where attendees got to vote on the various design concepts, which the consultant developed out in concepts, and then there was more winnowing. The public input was an important part of the design process, which might account for why Riverscape is fairly successful.

So the design, including the fountain, wasn’t something from out-of-the-blue. The technical problems with the fountain seem to be something that can be corrected. One of the potentially fatal flaws would be silty water clogging the pumps (which is what did in the Ohio River fountain in Louisville). This isn’t the situation in Dayton as the fountains take their water from wells (though there is a hard water issue with that source), and the tech problems seem to be more with the nozzles and controls.

When the fountain is on it is a sight to behold. The sucker is big. You can see it from US 35 coming into the city from the east, shooting up over the roofs and trees of the east side and competing with the downtown skyscrapers. Presumably it’s visible from afar on I-75, too, coming in from the north.

If they do get it working they should leave it on longer, or post a schedule so folks can know when to see it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Northernmost City in Kentucky

The northernmost city in Kentucky really is Dayton (across the river from Cincinnati), but one can say that about the Ohio Dayton, too. Though it might more properly be called the northernmost city in the southern Appalachians, due to the huge demographic influence from not only eastern Kentucky, but West Virginia, western Virginia, and eastern Tennessee.

It's a good question when the big Appalachian migration started; apparently it has been happening, or was noticed, already in the 1920s. It was probably the Depression and WWII that really kicked off the influx, then the mechanization of coal mining in the later 1940s and 50s. The 'briars' (local slang for southern Appalachians) settled in older neighborhoods on the east side, but also in Riverdale, and parts of West Dayton, and suburban areas in Drexel, Fairborn, Riverside and Moraine..

This map from the 1970s was an attempt to develop a geography of where the Appalachians settled, based on common surnames in the region

The Appalachian migration was in enough volume to alter the character of Dayton from a Midwestern metropolis to one more akin to the Upper South, as the culture and values of that region came to influence this area. Examples range from things as mundane as the popularity of country music, stock car racing, and vacations in Gatlinburg or the Gulf Coast, to foodways, to changes in accent/dialect, to the various forms of evangelical Christianity setting the religious and moral tone.

As this migration was perhaps more men at first, working in factory jobs, which led to a lot of bars and taverns to go after work. A product of this briar nightlife was bluegrass music.

The Appalachian working class of Dayton and vicinity was an early fan base for Bluegrass music (which often is, in its lyrical themes, a music of migration), and produced some of the "name" artists in the genre, as well as lesser known musicians and local bands.

Bluegrass remains popular in the area, and one of the experts on the genre (and a musician, too), Fred Bartenstein, is based here. Fred produces a syndicated bluegrass radio program out of the WYSO studios.

Probably one of the best venues to see all this come together is Mountain Days, held in Eastwood Park, in the heavily Appalachian east side of the metro area. I usually don’t go to this as I don't want to pay the $6 entry fee, but decided to check it out this year. I was at one 11, 14 years ago or so, and was pretty impressed with how large it has grown. They have four stages, one for cloggers and square dancers, one for the bigger acts:

...another for local bluegrass acts:
...and yet another more intimate venue for singer/songwriters, which was quite a few:

Dayton apparently has a nice little collection of folks writing country and bluegrass tunes, based on what I saw.

Plus re-enactors, craft booths, etc. Mountain Days is certainly worth the entry fee (which goes to a scholarship fund), and another one of those things that makes Dayton "Daytonesque".

Click here for a pix tour of Mountain Days

Friday, August 24, 2007

Save the Arcade Rally....FSA meeting notes.

Some notes from the FSA meetings

Smaller attendance this time than in the past, and we didn't use the big room.

The big news at the meetins is the Urban Nights event and the Courthouse Square rally.

Rally on Courthouse Square,

Noon, Thursday, 30 August.

They are going to do a rally, having banners, selling things to raise funds, and might have some musical entertainment. Apparently the county has been very cooperative on this event. The broadcast media will be been contacted.

Urban Nights.
I think it was Susan Gruenberg (sp?) who really got this organized. She did an excellent job, convincing the city to go along with opening the building for urban nights, and even getting a bioenvironmental reading from RAPCA on the air quality in the building, as this was, apparently, on of the objections.

There are going to be a lot of fire code compliance issues, and one thing that is really needed is three commercial fire extinguishers that could be loaned to FSA for the evening.

Only the ground floor will be opened, and only the part around the rotunda. The apartments will not be open. The Arcade part will not be open. The glass roof over the arcade part is in too bad a condition to permit tours, and there would need to have been hard-hats issued. The tours of the arcade will be in groups of 15, with a guide in the front and one in the rear. The tours will originate on the 4th Street side of the building, but there will be a table on the 3rd Street side with people selling things and directing people to 4th if they want a tour.

There will be some exhibits and boards up on the 4th Street entrance, including a board where people can leave their suggestions for the Arcades' re-use. There is also an attempt to get some street musicians to perform, and maybe some recorded music inside.

Bob Shiffler, the owner of the Kuhn's and McCorys building next to the Arcade and the Scwhind building across the street, apparently has been helping out, and is in contact w. Ms Gruenberg, as he will be providing electricity and some spots for the rotunda building. I don’t know the tech details on this but apparently there is a power source in his buildings that can be accessed from the Arcade.

They have received $7000 so far in pledges. Preservation Dayton is now involved somewhat, having agreed to be the FSA's financial agent. Right now they are just collecting pledges, and will call in the pledges when they have enough to help pay down the lien.

The Raffle:
FSA decided not to do the car raffle that was talked about during the last meeting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An Arcade Redevelopment Lesson for Dayton

I will be doing a brief presentation tomorrow on the Grove Arcade in Ashville, North Carolina at the FSA meeting.

This is another example where local government stepped up to the plate, along with the local business community, and re-used an arcade as a multi-use structure. The Grove Arcade was purchased by the city of Ashville, and then turned over to a nonprofit 501c3 Grove Arcade Foundation via a long term lease. The Foundation then redeveloped the Arcade and operates it, though some of the leasing is done by a local developer acting as agent.

The cost to renovate this arcade was $30M. The money for the nonprofit part came from various sources, including the city and county (the foundation director told me it was a complicated deal, involving credits, grants, the city and county, and private individuals.), and that a local utility acted as the developer for the offices and apartments

There was problems attracting a developer, due to the nature of the arcade space (which was an issue with the Dayton Arcade, too, during the first redevelopment), which is why the nonprofit Grove Arcade Foundation was set up: as a nonprofit they only have to break even, plus had more access to grants to nonprofits. A private developer from Atlanta was recruited for the office/apartment part, but FirstEnergy, a Carolina utility, stepped in when he dropped out.

The Grove has retail on the ground floor, offices on the second, and apartments on the third and upper floors. There is also a market along the outside and parking in the basement.

Retail was 100% leasd this year. The apartments are not fully leased yet, but there are no gross vacancies. It seems like they are between 80% and 90% occupied

Again, the thing that is missing in Dayton is a convening authority with clout to make it happen, to act as an advocate for the building and pull all the pieces together. In Asheville it was the mayor and a task force, which included council members, the city manager, and private citizens.

They didn't just study re-use, they made it happen, and got creative about it , too.

One thing that needs to be clear about the Grove Arcade, as with the other examples I have looked at, is that a public-private partnership is required for re-use.

In Daytons case the city, the county, or something like the Port Authority could purchase the building to keep it falling into the hands of an unscrupulous developer who would demolish it (in this case the purchase price would go to a 501c3) Then a similar nonprofit foundation could be set up and private sector partners arranged.

The complaint about this is there is no money. Well, have a countywide referendum for a bond issue to raise the money, but also establish a public purpose to justify the bonds. In the case of the Grove, the public purpose was to treat the arcade as a public market in a broader sense, including craft galleries and workshops, not just retail.

This could be done in Dayton as well, if the Arcade could be positioned as a community gathering place of sorts, similar to Courthouse Square.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blues Festival @ Dave Hall Plaza

I’ve been coming to this for a few years now. I started going to these way back when I first moved to Dayton, starting with the Reggae Festival in 1989 and have been attending these on and off ever since.

Dave Hall Plaza is one of the best places downtown. If the Arcade is the heart of downtown in brick and stone, this is the "green heart" of the city

Jim Nichols, the DDN downtown reporter, former editor of the Downtowner, and downtown resident, came up with the idea of having a music festival in the early 1980s. Thus was born the Women in Jazz festival, followed by the Blues Festival and Reggae Festival. These three festivals mark the summer in Dayton at Dave Hall Plaza, which really, really could use more events like this, as it is such a mellow space conducive to good vibes. They are put on by the city and the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

The festivals have two stages fronting the lawn area. The stages alternate: only one stage is "on" at a time, while the other is being used to set-up, so you don’t have any long breaks in the music.

There's dancing in front of the stages. You bring your own lawn chairs, or just a beach blanket, sit on the lawn or under the trees.

..and a vendor, food & drink, and beer area on Fourth and into the park a bit. This is were you get yr festival food and other goodies.

People come for the music and generally good and positive vibe of a musical Sunday in the park. It really doesn't get much better than this in downtown Dayton, and if you want to really tune into the unpretentious, laid-back spirit of the city at it's best, this and the other festvals here are the place and time.
Come down next year, or to the upcoming reggae festival, Sunday Sept 2...
For an extended pix tour of the festival click here

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Alimentos Mexicanos en Dayton

According to the 2000 census the Asians were the #3 "racial" category in the Dayton area, after whites and blacks. I think this is going to change in 2010, just by looking at the number of new Mexican/Latino markets in the area that have sprung up in the past 10 years. There were none that I knew of in 1990.

Most of these are little tiendas, some in the city, others in the suburbs, but I did discover one today that is less a corner stores or mini-mart and more a small supermarket:
La Michoacana is named after the Mexican state, and according to the sign is #5. I don't know where the other four are. This place is pretty impressive. They have a small in-store taqueria, some limited clothing & DVD sales, but the main event is the selection. There is a respecable produce section, including bins of dried chiles. There is a meat department with butchers on staff , who apparently make their own chorizo, cut their own menudo and other meat cuts, as well having chicarones and carnitas for sale. There is good selection of canned and boxed foods too.
The store is on Troy Street in Old North Dayton. This neighborhood does not have a reputaton for having a Mexican or Latino settlement. So far the Mexicans are settling all over the area: East Dayton, Fairborn, Riverside, cheap apartment complexes all over town, but not in large enough numbers or concentrations to create a true barrio like one sees up in citys further north in the Midwest.

Given the tough economic times in the area one wonders if this immigration is going to continue?

Melodies of Germany and Austria: 89.5 FM

The 89.5 FM frequency probably has the most unusual programming in the Dayton area. I've already mentioned the Hungarian Program on Sundays. On Saturdays 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM one can hear Melodies of Germany and Austria, “Melodien von Deutschland und Ostereich”, hosted by Dieter, Eva, and Marita. Usually its Eva und Marita co-hosting, but occasionally Dieter hosts by himself.

The show is a mix of schlager and volksmusik. For example one can hear songs like 'Patrona Bavaria' (a good example of volksmusik) as well as music from the Alps, a popular volksmusik source. Some of this straight volksmusik, but sometimes with more of a pop arrangement and orchestration.

The show also plays schlager, German pop music from the postwar era. Schlager used to be considered very uncool (probably still is) and not worthy of study, but with the advent of cultural studies there has been some interesting scholarly things written on this musical style, which interprets the genre in terms of postwar German culture as well as musical influences
One can hear old standards (called “Evergreens” in German) like Seeman, (Deine Heimat ist Das Meer) and artists like Freddy Quinn…
Freddy, known for his sailor/nautical themed songs, was Germanys entry in the first Eurovision song contest:

The show also plays more modern schlager, and schlager translations of US pop songs, where German words are sung to the American tunes (often having nothing to do with the English lyrics).

The show also has announcements of what the local German clubs are doing: dinners, dances, and so forth. They also do PSAs for non-German ethnic clubs, like polka dances at the Czechoslovak Club.

For a metropolitan area as small as Dayton to have a radio show like this is, I think, pretty special. The show is certainly a window on a musical culture that one doesn’t hear from very often in the USA, sort of an alternative style of pop music

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Freinds to Save the Arcade

The FSA group has a nice revised website out, done by one of the volunteers...its also linked on my blogroll to the left.

Readers should surf on over there and print out the pledge forms and make a pledge to the back taxes fundraising drive. Just send in the pledge, no money yet. Also, there are some additional fund raising things they are doing, like selling bookmarks and buttons and raffle tickets for a new car.

Note that the next community meeting is next week, Thursday 23 August. There will be three times: Noon, 5 PM, and 7 PM

The website has links to two really good pix collections of the vacant buildings (surfing into those are worth the time); the vast majority are interior shots. Interestingly, both collections use a female model (different models, I think) in various poses:

Come to the meetings and volunteer, or contact one of the contacts listed on the website.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Changing Kettering

The discussion around the Section 8 issue in the DDN comments section indicates that Kettering people perceive a deteriorating situation in their suburb. This is probably true, probably quite noticeable to people who lived there a long time.

The thing you need to know about Kettering is that it's not a monolithic stereotyped postwar suburb. There are some very wealthy areas like "Kettering West of Far Hills" (a continuation of the Oakwood estate country). There are some old streetcar suburbs and Pre WWII/Roaring '20s plats. And then there is the Pearl Harbor Suburbia of, say 1939-45, which was the start of the build-out of the 1920's plats. Finally then there are the postwar plats, a mix of modernist ranches, split levels, and cape cods of various sizes, from cracker box to really spread-out. There is also a substantial amount of apartment construction.

Kettering had a substantial population of blue collar workers, between 20% to 50% in most of the census tracts east of Far Hills in 1970, the last good year for factory work that paid a living wage, This kind of job has seen a long term decline to 2000, and is probably even lower now with the industrial contraction since 2000.

One can see this declining income in the near term by tracking the earned income tax credit (EITC) filings as a proxy for income stats. The EITC has a ceiling of around $36K for families with children, so an increase in filings would indicate an increase in lower incomes. And indeed these filings have been increasing since 2000:
Another way a lower income area might be visible is via the prevalence of fringe banking:

“…the vast majority of their customers are people stuck on the bottom third of economic ladder. John Caskey, a Swarthmore (Pa.) College economist who has studied pawn shops and check cashers, says many of their customers are the forgotten suburbanites -- working people who live above the official poverty level but still have a hard time getting by.”. well as thrift and discount stores and increasing retail vacancies.
And then there are the home foreclosures and sheriff sales. This is a problem all around the Dayton area, but Kettering does seem to have a clusters of these:

Putting it all together paints a picture of a deteriorating socio-economic situation in the north and east reaches of the suburb:

For a detailed look at Kettering's deteriorating socio-economic situation, with additional charts and maps of lower income areas, income declines, demographic changes, the housing burden, rental rates, crime stats, and "street photography" illustrating all the maps & charts click here.

After reviewing the thread at the link, one can infer that northeast Kettering is really becoming an extension of East Dayton, with incomes and rental rates equivalent to the city. There are also indications of a competitive rental market (about 30% of the housing units in Kettering are rentals), so there is no price barrier for Dayton people wanting rent in Kettering, though there is probably a differential in home sales prices.

I think this is what people are perceiving, that their suburb is under more economic pressure, and there might be more people moving up from Dayton.


MVRPC studies

2006-20010 Dayton-Kettering Consolidated Plan (homeless housing plan)

American Factfinder
& the Urban Atlas published by the Census in the 1970s (available in the WSU government documents department).

Brookings Institute EITC database

…and the "field research" of just driving around Kettering and thinking about what I'm seeing, and thinking about other similar areas I lived in.