Living City Project in Dayton sets its sights high

Trash collected by volunteers during the Living City Project cleanup in 2019.

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Trash collected by volunteers during the Living City Project cleanup in 2019.

A massive citywide cleanup in Dayton is going to try something new this year, following a COVID break.

The Dayton Living City Project won’t be just one day this year — the cleanups will be spread over the course of about two months, to ensure everyone in the community who wants to participate gets that chance.

“We can’t do this without you,” said Caleb Ingram, executive director with Declare, a faith-based nonprofit that started the Living City Project.

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Volunteers collected more than 125 tons of trash during the Living City Project cleanup in April 2019.

Volunteers collected more than 125 tons of trash during the Living City Project cleanup in April 2019.

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Volunteers collected more than 125 tons of trash during the Living City Project cleanup in April 2019.

On April 6, 2019, more than 1,300 volunteers from across the region picked up more than 125 tons of trash, said Joel Burton, a local pastor who was involved in the project.

In just four hours, volunteers picked up 21 tons of tires for proper disposal, he said, and there were 30 host locations across Dayton.

“This year, we’re coming back, and we’re going to do a widespread event that’s going to cover multiple cleanups, multiple days with multiple businesses, organizations and churches,” he said.

The 2019 Living City Project was Dayton’s first citywide cleanup in many years, and it is likely the largest in the city’s history, officials said.

Dayton had similar types of cleanups in the late 1980s and part of the 1990s, but they didn’t last.

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Volunteers with the Living City Project in 2019.

Volunteers with the Living City Project in 2019.

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Volunteers with the Living City Project in 2019.

Volunteers in 2019 removed trash and debris from some of the city’s thousands of vacant properties and lots, as well as from some public spaces, like alleys and streets.

Trash degrades neighborhoods, attracts illegal dumping and pests, and creates conditions that make people feel unsafe and unattached to where they live, according to volunteers and city officials.

The Living City Project is partnering with the city of Dayton and neighborhood associations, as well as with churches, nonprofits, businesses and community groups that want to provide labor for the cleanups, said Harold Nuss, with Declare.

Nuss said one project goal is to develop “sustainable” relationships so that cleanups can happen more than just once a year.

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Trash litters a vacant and fire-damaged property in Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Trash litters a vacant and fire-damaged property in Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Trash litters a vacant and fire-damaged property in Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Right now, there are hundreds of volunteer slots available for the 21 planned cleanups around the city, including in the College Hill, Riverdale, Westwood, South Park, Burkhardt, Jane Reece and Oregon District neighborhoods.

Cleanups got underway on Saturday in the Highland Park and Riverdale neighborhoods, as well as a Dayton Inspires cleanup in the Wright Dunbar neighborhood.”

Organizers hope to have even more cleanup host sites this year than they did during the last event, when there were 30 host sites.

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