When I retired I picked up a camera, learned how to use it, and became a volunteer photographer. My first project was taking photos of animals for the Humane Society. I enjoyed that so much that I started doing projects for other nonprofits. As I was doing these volunteer projects, and finding other places of interest with my camera, I felt like I was finally getting to know the area where I had lived all these years. I decided to share photos of what I was discovering on a facebook page called “Dayton at Work and Play.”
At the start of 2019 I made a New Year’s Resolution to take and post at least one photo on my facebook page from each of Dayton’s 66 neighborhoods.
After fifteen tornadoes hit Old North Dayton I photographed volunteers from all over the area helping in the cleanup efforts. A few months later, I again photographed people from all over the region as they gathered together in reaction to the mass shooting in the Oregon District. Then I started to rethink this project. I decided I didn’t want to go into a new neighborhood and take photos of buildings or some interesting landscape. I just wanted to take photos of people from all 66 neighborhoods, people from every corner of Dayton.
The reaction to this project idea was wonderful. Mayor Whaley and her husband Sam posed for me one Saturday morning and then introduced me to the leaders of some of the Neighborhood Associations. Bryan Taulbee and others on the city’s staff helped me understand when and where all of the city recreation activities were happening. City planning division manager Tony Kroeger helped me understand the exact boundaries of the neighborhoods. People invited me to block parties, to neighborhood events, and into their homes and their businesses. It was great.
I remember driving around Dayton’s Pineview neighborhood and seeing a man watering his lawn. I stopped and told him about my project. He said he’d grown up on this block and then left to go to college. After college he lived in Chicago and then New York. He had recently moved back to Dayton.
“I like being around the people I grew up with, and I like the size of Dayton” he told me. “In Chicago or New York you couldn’t get the whole community to come together the way Dayton did after the two tragedies we had this summer. This project of yours seems timely, Bill. Having an exhibition of photos of people from all corners of Dayton is a good thing for us to do now. I would be glad to have my photo up in your exhibition.”
The exhibition was being organized by Rebecca Sargent, then the Program Director at K12 Gallery. The photos were printed, the promotional materials were prepared and everything was ready for an opening April 2, 2020. Like many things that were planned in 2020, it never happened. I’m glad the Dayton Metro Library has decided to exhibit these photos now.
Those 66 photos are now on display through September 25 in the Dayton room of the Dayton Metro Library.