Participants in Your Voice Ohio's Thursday night forum in Dayton discuss ways to improve their community, Oct. 3, 2019.
Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

Your Voice Ohio: Make voting easier and more popular

An ideal Dayton community is one were everyone’s basic needs are met and poverty would only exists by choice, according to participants at Thursday night’s Your Voice Ohio forum in downtown Dayton. 

It’s a tall order, but the 20 or so residents who gathered at the White House Event Center came up with some concrete first steps toward more food availability and improving civic engagement through voting. 

The forum is part of an ongoing effort by Ohio news organizations to spark public conversations on solutions to community problems.

In the past two years the forums have included more than 1,200 Ohioans in more than 30 communities discussing issues like addiction and economic disparities. This round of community forums is intended to start conversations about community needs ahead of the November elections.

The local Your Voice Ohio forums are sponsored by the Dayton Daily NewsWHIO-TV, WYSO public radio and Soapbox Cincinnati.

Participants started by answering the question: What would your community look like if everyone lived happy and fulfilled lives?

The question asks people to dream big and Thursday night’s group did, describing a world where people live in harmony with nature, are free from gun violence and  everyone has equal access to good-paying jobs, clean water, healthy food, education, parks and recreation, affordable healthcare, transportation and housing.

READ MORE: The Path Forward

The next question asked what changes would need to happen to move toward that future?

Suggestions included:

• more community-orientated policing and focus on restorative and transformative justice rather than incarceration. 

• better mental health and care-giving services for both the young and the elderly.

• more investment in parts of the city that have been ignored in the past as well as making those communities financially whole with banking institutions and real estate literacy education. But no gentrification or displacement of long-time residents. 

• neighbors making more effort to know and help their neighbors.

• hiring a diverse workforce of quality teachers who focus on teaching kids to think outside the box and teaching relevant life skills. Also creating trade schools focused on sustainable industries. 

• getting rid of tax abatements so large institutions support the community.

• making downtown Dayton a car-free zone and expanding free bus route to the north, east, west and further south.

• reinvesting in homes to get occupants in them instead of tearing down. 

• changing the measure of community success from economic measures to well-being measures. 

• reducing food deserts. 

• making voting easier and more popular. 

Participants developed action plans to address the last three bullet points. 

Voting ideas included increasing civic education pre-kindergarten through college, making election day a paid holiday and making it easier for high school students to register to vote at school.

To fight food deserts the group suggested targeting areas of the city with only dollar stores and offering low interest loans to those who wish to open full-service grocery stores.

READ MORE:

Your Voice Ohio: Residents share ideas for a happier, more fulfilled Dayton

Your Voice Ohio: Trotwood needs its schools to improve

Your Voice Ohio: Involved citizens are key to solving the region’s problems

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