Allison Sandivar’s holiday display brightens the tornado-ravaged Stillwater River bank below her home in Harrison Twp. The Memorial Day tornado forced Sandivar from her home and her dog died within a week of the storm. Before the tornado it was difficult to see through the trees, she said. “At night it sparkles because you can see the city a little bit. And in the morning, you can see the sun rise a lot more than you used to,” she said. “I try to take a moment and appreciate the things I didn’t have before.” CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Goodbye 2019: Continuing recovery, helping neighbors: Dayton-area leaders look to 2020

It was a rough year. We need not recount for you all the ways that was true; you were there carrying anti-hate signs downtown or passing out water and food. You were there lighting a candle or shedding a tear along Fifth Street.

The year’s mixture of devastation and courage is perfectly captured in the pretty holiday lights Allison Saldivar recently raised on her Harrison Twp. property that is now surrounded by a wasteland of storm-ripped trees.

“Everything seems to be getting back to normal,” she told one of our reporters. “Trying to find the good and praise it and new beauty that’s coming about. There’s a lot different here, but I’m just trying to embrace the good that’s come of it and keep moving forward.”

Allison Sandivar’s holiday display brightens the tornado-ravaged Stillwater River bank below her home in Harrison Twp. The Memorial Day tornado forced Sandivar from her home and her dog died within a week of the storm. Before the tornado it was difficult to see through the trees, she said. “At night it sparkles because you can see the city a little bit. And in the morning, you can see the sun rise a lot more than you used to,” she said. “I try to take a moment and appreciate the things I didn’t have before.” CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart

SPECIAL PROJECT: WALKING THE PATH OF THE STORM 

As December comes to a close, we asked some local leaders and influencers about moving forward and looking ahead, posing to them this question: “Given the challenges of this year, what are you hopeful for and looking forward to in 2020, for yourself and for our community?”

Here are their responses.

Laura Roesch, CEO, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley; Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board member

I’m looking forward to seeing how our community continues to build on the tornado recovery efforts we’ve started. Thanks to the generosity, collaboration and flexibility of so many individuals, as well as private and public organizations, I believe we will see not only the rebuilding of what was lost in 2019, but we also have an opportunity to undertake some big-picture improvements in infrastructure, social justice, and the way we all continue to work together in the future.

Laura Roesch, Catholic Social Services

PHOTOS: Dayton shows its heart during vigils attended by thousands

For my organization, 2020 will be an exciting year during which we’ll be taking on new projects, serving new populations, and working to hone our existing programs into even more effective tools for serving our neighbors in need. I’ll be going into my fourth decade at Catholic Social Services, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited about our ability to have a positive impact on the thousands of people we serve.

Jason Harrison, strength coach, Present Tense Fitness

2020 can be a year when we decide as a community to center the wellness of our people, to re-imagine what progress looks like, and to build the healthy, equitable, and inclusive Dayton that would benefit all of its citizens. 2019 brought so much heartache and perhaps a renewed sense of urgency, but the truth is that we have a number of people living in our city who face chronic trauma, overwhelming stress, and structural obstacles that can only be removed if we decide collectively that all of us matter.

Jason Harrison

RELATED: Harrison: Looking at school problems means looking at racism

In 2020, I look forward to asking our community the question: What would it look like if our primary public policy goal was making Dayton the healthiest community in the Midwest? What might that change about policing, education, transportation and economic development? And do we have the moral courage and creativity to try?

Michael R. Roediger, director and CEO, Dayton Art Institute

I am hopeful our community will continue to work together to be even stronger. After the many tragedies that occurred in 2019, we unified to fight hate, supported those in need and worked to rebuild. There is still much to do, and working together, I know we can continue to make positive change.

Michael Roediger is the executive director and CEO of the Dayton Art Institute, which gets half its budget from donations. LISA POWELL/STAFF

I am hopeful the Dayton Art Institute will have a successful 2020 year as we work to reach our Centennial Campaign goal and to complete the renovations to the galleries and historic front hillside. I am so proud of the DAI team and what they have accomplished in 2019. I know 2020 is going to be even better.

Lauren White, executive director, UpDayton

My hope for 2020 is that we do not let the horrific events of this last year be vainly forgotten. Unexpected tragedies move us into action in ways we don’t always choose. We cannot make a habit of only reacting when destruction strikes — it’s time we reframe the challenges of our community as urgent matters demanding action now.

DETAILS: These women helped Dayton show its ‘HEART’ in 2019

In 2019, Dayton residents proved they are ready and willing to help. We need more transparency around issues facing our community and leadership communicating on ways we can all contribute. To make a change we have to let go of fears and not belittle our attempts.

Memorials to victims of the mass shooting on August 4 have begun to shrink in the Oregon District and some business owners would like to have them removed. Many people continued to visit the memorials during the Friday lunch hour and Huber Heights resident sized up the Dayton Strong t-shirts stating, “I already have one but I came back to get one for the Mrs.” TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

Teri Rizvi, founder and director, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop; executive director of strategic communications, University of Dayton

If Dayton had a personality, it would be resilient. A new decade will bring the long-awaited rebirth of the Dayton Arcade, inspiring both nostalgia and a belief in what’s possible when a community dreams big.

PHOTOS: Dayton Arcade construction progress

On a personal level, I look forward to attracting writers from all over the country to Dayton to laugh and learn at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop during our 20th anniversary. As we build upon Erma’s legacy in her hometown, we contribute to Dayton’s rich literary heritage — from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poetry to the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. This is a place that inspires creativity and elevates the imagination. And if we can laugh along the way, all the better.

Bryan Hunter, president of 937 Payroll; Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board member

Throughout 2019, it has been exciting to watch the relationship between downtown Dayton and the suburbs. My business is located downtown and I am a resident of Springboro. 2019 has shown the resiliency and giving nature of the entire Dayton-area community. As the core of Dayton gets stronger, I have seen the suburbs rally around that. When something affects one of us, it impacts all of us and we are all in this together.

Throughout 2020, I am hopeful that we will all continue to support one another. The suburbs are better with a strong downtown and they in turn make downtown Dayton Strong. In particular, I have been watching the Dayton Arcade project and am hopeful that this will be a great unifier for our community — one place for our universities, entrepreneur community and people from everywhere to gather and collaborate. I am excited for the Arcade to open in 2020.

Scott Murphy, vice president, economic development, Downtown Dayton Partnership

I hope 2020 will be a year of continued healing for our community, and to the extent possible, we can collectively get back to some semblance of normal. With the progression of projects like the Arcade and Fire Blocks and continued momentum in other areas, 2020 will be big for downtown. These developments have been in the works for years and will be game changers for activating the heart of the Central Business District. As much as downtown has changed in recent years, I think we are only at the end of the beginning of downtown’s revitalization.

Lisa Grigsby, film commissioner, FilmDayton 

A new decade and a revitalized Dayton! 2020 will be a year of new — new businesses and residents in the Fire Blocks; some buildings in Wright Dunbar have new owners who will be bringing exciting projects to that charming neighborhood; and continued progress for our tornado-ravaged neighborhoods.

FilmDayton is starting the year off with a workshop for writers and we continue to see films being made here in Dayton and creating jobs. We’ll be launching a student film festival, encouraging our youth to learn the craft of storytelling. We’ll continue to celebrate Yellow Springs filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert and hope to see their “American Factory” film at the Academy Awards on Feb. 9.

Joe Head co-owns the Century Bar in downtown Dayton with Diane Spitzig. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Personally, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is the new Century Bar. Its owners have created a bourbon scene in Dayton that has gotten incredible national recognition, and with a bigger space, a second-floor bar and third-floor event space, it’s going to be awesome. Perhaps I can get a seat at the bar again.

Mary A. McDonald, mayor of Trotwood

I’m looking forward to seeing our community rebound in a positive way from the devastation of the Memorial Day tornadoes. Many of the homes and apartments that were damaged in our community are under reconstruction and many should be completed by the 2020 year’s end. This is exciting, as the investment will add value to the neighborhoods that were so deeply impacted.

We are also excited to welcome a new state-of-the-arts library to our Main Street corridor, along with a new courthouse and Goodwill Easter Seals, all to be built in our Old Town Community. This new investment is exciting, as we consider Old Town the heart of the Trotwood community.

I believe this to be an exciting year here in Trotwood and that the new investment will add much value to the quality of life of our residents, visitors and businesses here in our community.

Shaun Yu, president and CEO, Discover Classical 88.1 & 89.9FM

In the aftermath of the tragic events of 2019, I think about the positive energy and the remarkable kindness, generosity and regard for our community that was on full display in the days and weeks that followed.

READ MORE: Dayton is all Dayton’s got

However, it shouldn’t take a natural disaster for us to reach out to our neighbors in need. It shouldn’t take a senseless act of violence for us to appreciate what our first responders put on the line every day. It shouldn’t take a holiday of Thanksgiving to volunteer at a community kitchen. That sense of coming together in the hours and days that followed, to counter the tragedy that befell our fellow Daytonians? I’m hopeful that in 2020, Dayton will act on that sense of love and hope every day of the new year.

Rick Schwartz, board chairman, WinSupply; Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board member

I am looking forward to seeing the continuing development of downtown Dayton, building on the wonderful progress of the past few years. I am so happy to see a for-profit company, Stratachache, making an investment in downtown properties for its workforce. I am hopeful and excited for the eventual reopening of the Arcade.

I am hopeful for a resurgence of support by our community of long-established arts organizations. I also wish that more young people will begin to realize how unique it is and how lucky we are to have the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Victoria Theater Association and Schuster Center, coordinated by the Arts Alliance, as well as the Art Institute and a full-time, commercial-free classical radio station, WDPR.

I am thrilled with the potential private investment in our community spurred on by almost 30,000 personnel inside the fence at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. And I am excited to watch how the community might embrace the recent improvements at the Masonic Temple, the Dayton Art Institute and Carillon Historical Park.

Writer, poet and event producer Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, poet and artistic director of The Signature: A Poetic Medley

2019 — the last year of the second decade of the 21st century. This is a whole new world for the Greater Dayton region. Let us all continue to be mindful that what and how we do what we do matters. As we head into 2020, this year taught us that we value individually and collectively. We learned that we are more connected than we ever could have imagined.

READ MORE: AMELIA ROBINSON: No, we are not fine

We have more healing and acceptance work to be done. No one wants a tragedy and our resounding resilience as a community is the resolute truth of our community mantra, Dayton Strong. Continue to stand on it, for it, with, and by it. As a society and community continuing honest, impactful, effective dialogue and action, steps will develop into real world efficacy for 2020 and beyond.

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