Friday February 15, 2008

Beyond Brown

A 54-page, student-oriented entertainment guide to downtown Dayton is now available free online. A group of University of Dayton seniors created the guide to show there is plenty to do and see beyond Brown Street.

"Say there's nothing to do in downtown … we dare you."

That challenge opens the introduction of a student-oriented, user-friendly guide to downtown Dayton, put together by a handful of University of Dayton seniors.

"We personally had noticed students on campus saying things like, 'There is nothing to do around here but drink,' or 'Downtown is just a mud pit,'" said Joshua Rauch, a UD senior political science major.

"We are trying to correct the perception that Dayton doesn't offer anything, because it does," he said.

So, Rauch and 14 fellow seniors who represent the first class of Dayton Civic Scholars created "Beyond Brown: A Student Guide to Downtown Dayton."

The 54-page color handbook features a price guide, transportation options, parking map, student-reviewed hotspots, student photography and a handpicked directory of downtown's restaurants, entertainment venues, cultural activities, parks and recreation sites, shopping opportunities and seasonal events.

"Everyone always talks about going to Cincinnati, but as much as people talk about going to different cities, I think they're overlooking the wealth of things we have to do here that is literally a mile down the road," said Rauch, a Dayton native.

The students avoided reinventing the work of existing providers of guides to downtown? — including the Dayton Daily News GO! section, the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Dayton Partnership — choosing instead to tap these resources to create something specifically for UD students.

They made their choices about what to include in "Beyond Brown" based on familiarity, student appeal and accessibility, focusing exclusively on the area bordered by the Great Miami River and Sixth and Keowee streets.

"We wanted to make it for every student, not just for those who are old enough to drink alcohol and not just for those who have transportation," Rauch said.

After the book published, the students received an overwhelming request for copies from UD staff, alumni, local media and Dayton residents.

"It surprised me that we had people who were e-mailing and contacting us from several states away asking for a copy," Rauch said. "We put it online because we didn't have enough to mail out to everyone."

The online version of the guidebook will also be a helpful tool to prospective students and serve as a permanent display of the student group's work, he said.

The Dayton Civic Scholars, part of the University of Dayton's Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, is a program designed for students interested in urban affairs and pursuing careers in public service that creates a pathway from the classroom to community leadership.

Each Dayton Civic Scholars cohort — composed of 15 students from each class year — is responsible for developing and implementing a capstone focus project.

"The program allows students to think around some of the critical issues that exist in Dayton, then they make up their own minds on how they want to tackle one of these issues," said Dean Lovelace, Dayton Civic Scholars director and a Dayton city commissioner.

"Beyond Brown" is the first project to be completed.

"This is our way of trying to get people to spend money, help out these downtown businesses and get UD students out of this bubble of Brown Street," Rauch said.

The 2008 cohort began distributing the guidebook last week. They ordered 3,500 copies, enough to supply one to every dorm room and student house on campus and have limited copies left over for wider distribution.

"This is something not only the campus can use but anyone who goes downtown, whether it’s members of the city commission, city stakeholders or citizens," Lovelace said.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of media relations, at 937-229-3256 or mpant1@udayton.edu.