According to the Pew Research Center, 2020 and the COVID pandemic have caused people to pack up — to leave cities and places they thought were unsafe or could no longer afford, and to be closer to family. .
This is the information presented in a recent article by Meredith Moss, reporter for the Dayton Daily News. WYSO’s Jerry Kenney recently told her about his profile of several new Miami Valley residents and their reasons for moving to the Dayton area.
Meredith Moss: It’s such a positive and hopeful part of the pandemic. We have all experienced the sad parts and the tragic parts of the pandemic, but this is a happy, hopeful and joyful part of the pandemic. People were reunited with families. They rethought their priorities. I think it’s something we should talk about that a pandemic caused people to stop and think about their lives and what was important to them and what was less important to them.
Jerry Kenney: Meredith, you present quite a few stories of people who have moved to the city of Dayton and surrounding areas. What stood out to you about them and how did you find the people you spoke to?
Moss: The psychologists I interviewed explained how when we are afraid of something because of a threat like the pandemic, we somehow want to protect ourselves and our families, and we start asking ourselves these difficult questions . Do I prefer to be in a place where I can walk in a park rather than a city? Where would I prefer to be near my parents.
The woman who was the star of my story, the photo on the cover of the life section was a family, a military family. They had decided to stay in Dayton, but they were shocked when the grandparents, who weren’t in Dayton, rethought their priorities because of the kinds of things we’re talking about. And they decided, you know, we want to be here when this next grandchild is born and now they’re, well, I think they just finished the house they’re building here. And now they’re all one big happy family in the Miami Valley. And the children were delighted that their parents decided to come here. So, I kept asking around.
There was a couple in New York in the story, John Capobianco and Mike Rogers, and they were in Manhattan in a small space, and they looked at each other one day and said, “Us, it’s no longer fun to be here”. There is nothing funny in that. And they had one of them who had roots in Dayton, and they had come here for the holidays, and they had bought a house in Kettering. They hadn’t seen him. So for sure one of the reasons was the cheap housing here, people were getting so much help for their money.
Kenney: Housing and family are just a few of the reasons people have moved to the Dayton area, but you’ve spoken to people who have come here with no connection, right?
Moss: An example of this is Dylan Champion, whom I met one day at the neon cinema. I went to see a movie and tend to talk to people, which sometimes embarrasses my family. But I was talking to Dylan, and he said he was new in town, and he just got a neon job. He came from a Los Angeles entertainment family. His father is a director. His grandparents were very famous choreographers and dancers, champion Marge and Gower, and he was just looking for a place to make movies. He had never liked LA life in terms of the values there. He said he always felt like people wanted to know what relationships he had or what he could do for them. And he was looking for another type of values, another type of environment. And he said Dayton, because he wants to make small independent films, and he knew there was a tax credit from Ohio for people who wanted to make films here. And so, he chose eight. Dayton was right.
Meredith Moss: Well, I’ve always liked people’s stories, Jerry. I have written for the newspaper for many years. I’ve always been what I call a feature film editor, which is to say I’m interested in people’s stories, what they do, what they’re passionate about, what they like. And so, I’ve had many, many beats over the years, from shopping to fashion, I’ve had the beat of religion. I did a lot. I used to run the women’s breast cancer section of the newspaper we did every October, and I was a business columnist for a long time. That’s how I started. And usually for me, it was about people. It wasn’t so much about what the store was selling, but more about why this trader decided to collect and sell buttons, let’s say. They loved buttons, and I’ve always been fascinated by how people find something that’s so close to their hearts. And often that can turn into a career.
Party Meredith Moss. 2
In part two of this interview, Meredith Moss talks about her decades-long reporting on the Dayton-area community and her personal inspiration for the story, From New York and LA to Dayton.
Jerry Kenney: In one of your latest feature films, called From New York and LA to Dayton, you introduce quite a few people. I understand that you had a personal inspiration to write this story.
Moss: You know, the question I get the most over the years is where do you get ideas for a story? And that’s never been a problem, because everywhere I go, I get ideas from a story. If I go out to dinner with my husband and start talking to people at the next table, something happens that I tell my husband, it’s a great story. And that’s the case with this particular story you’re talking about.
Because during the pandemic, my two sons, one lived in New York with his wife and their two children, and the other lived in Los Angeles with his wife and their two children. And both of them got caught up in a situation where they were in very small places. It was a bad time in the pandemic when people were afraid to walk the streets of these big cities. And my eldest son, Steven, once asked us, “Do you think there would be anyone in Dayton who would rent us or lend us a house and, just to get us out of town, we’d spend the summer in Dayton?” And we have some lovely friends who are going to be away for the summer, and they said, Sure, your kids can stay with us.
Well, the children came. They are not children. I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t call them children. My son and his wife and their children came, and they lived not far from us. And they couldn’t believe the dramatic difference. And that’s what I found with many of the people I interviewed for this story. Kids could ride their bikes down a cul-de-sac. They could walk around without wearing a mask. They could, they fell in love with the parks, the Metro Parks in our area, and a lot of people mentioned the green spaces of the Miami Valley. And then in the winter, they came back when these friends went to Florida for a week. They came back, and then they said, maybe we’d move to Dayton, and they were ready to leave town. And a lot of people I talked to wanted to get out of the big cities.
Kenney: What is your outlook for the city of Dayton and the Miami Valley? Where do you think we are going?
Moss: I think Dayton is doing really well right now. I know my son said to me yesterday, he said, ‘Dayton feels so exciting right now.’ My kids have come back here and are finding all kinds of new bars and restaurants, things to do and things to do. And of course, I cover the arts, and the arts have always been a wonderful strength for Dayton. But if you go down to the arcade now and see what and how it jumps and what happens, I just think it’s a very exciting time for Dayton and I’m glad to still be up there, Jerry, but I’m glad I’m still alive to see the good, good things that happen here because I’ve always thought what Dayton is to me is community and you don’t replace that in a lot other cities. There is a sense of community. You can get involved here in ways you can’t in the big cities. It is a very welcoming community.
Kenney: We encourage people to check out the article if they missed it. It’s called From New York and LA to Dayton: Pandemic Spurs is moving to Ohio. We spoke with Meredith Moss about. The Dayton Daily News, Meredith, thank you very much for your time.
Moss: It’s a pleasure. Looking forward to talking to you.