Why collaboration at UD’s ArtStreet is helping Dayton innovate via Dayton.com

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How many times have you walked into a full classroom where passion to change the world is palpable?

Every now and then we get the individual standout. The prodigy that makes you say to yourself, “He’s going to be something,” or “She’s the next Steve Jobs.”

ArtStreet photo

Walk into ArtStreet at The University of Dayton this summer. You’ll be amazed to find 12 students, OutKast’s “Hey Yah” playing in the background, and a place where everyone can be Steve Jobs.

So what exactly is ArtStreet? Any research about the program quickly tells you that it’s focused on providing students with multidisciplinary perspectives, unique spaces, residential living, innovative curriculum and life-changing arts experiences.

Representing over 10 different majors like mechanical engineering, sports management, business, graphic design and biology, ArtStreet has been designed to foster collaboration across disciplines.

ArtStreet Brainstorm photo

This is not where you go to think inside the box. It’s not even a place you go to think outside of the box. You go to eliminate the box and step out of the comfort zone to solve problems. Students are involved in projects to make people in the Dayton community more engaged, that will potentially be pitched and adopted by the City of Dayton and other areas. ArtStreet is a place where everyone can make a difference, prodigy or not—where you get to see true innovation happening before your eyes.

You might ask yourself: What is innovation?

Junior Arts Education student Rose DeFluri says it “means living for a better tomorrow.”

ArtStreet photo

DeFluri, along with 11 other students, are engrossed in multi-level innovation projects, one called Project Gem City.

Project Gem City is a public art installment, outlined and built by the students, and used as a means of exploring and engaging public opinion interactively. The enormous three-dimensional gem is almost seven feet tall and nearly five feet wide. Written at the top are Dayton centered prompts addressing ideas and concerns of the Dayton community. On the sides – its most prominent feature – will be YOUR suggestions and thoughts about the prompts provided.

The Gem is being publically unveiled July 17 at the Yellow Cab Food Truck Rally, where it will be moved from Courthouse Square.

They’re all involved in a pretty unconventional process to help solve the big problems in the city and help propose solutions to areas of concern. For more information on their experience and the process, you should visit their blog.

DeFluri added that innovation is “not only developing something new, but expanding upon what you’ve already done in order to improve the future.”

Project Gem City is doing exactly that, by using the ideas of the community and hopefully expanding upon them for future projects.

After speaking with other students, anyone would notice a theme of innovation beginning to take shape, centered on thinking beyond traditional parameters.

Recent grad and former Mechanical Engineering major Andrew Arnett said that innovation is all about “taking things that you didn’t think were going to relate, and relating them.”

Brian LaDuca, Director of ArtStreet, is the explosive facilitator of these projects aimed at utilizing and harvesting the breeding ground of innovation: young minds.

It’s all a part of his mission to help improve Dayton and the world, and the ideas come from people younger than your average Fortune 500 CEO.

LaDuca’s method is simple. When developing what ArtStreet is today, he set out to answer this question:

“What happens if creative thinking and creativity was able to go across all majors of study, across our University?”

Then, a follow-up question:

“What happens when the ArtStreet at the University of Dayton becomes kind of like an app for a student’s degree in the 21st century?”

LaDuca strives to help the University of Dayton become a place where any student can pick and choose their interests and expertise in a way that can be molded for the benefit of the city.

From these questions, he developed a formula:

Creative Perspective + Creative Confidence + Innovative Application = ArtStreet 

Partnering with LaDuca and ArtStreet is another program focused on civic innovation in Dayton: The Collaboratory.

Director of the Collaboratory Peter Benkendorf and Director of Community Initiatives AJ Ferguson (who also happens to the the Executive Director of UpDayton) are also facilitators of the student-driven project.  The team makes for an innovation trifecta centered on unconventional thought, creativity and practical solutions for a better Dayton.

The ArtStreet + Collaboratory project is an ongoing process. Students have to reach complex goals involving improvements to urban design, ways of educating people about their cities, and techniques to improve public safety.

Here at Dayton.com, we do our best to let you know what’s going on in the city: what to know, what to do, and what to love. ArtStreet aligns with the mission by highlighting, educating and showcasing the stellar innovation efforts within the Dayton area—the birthplace of new ideas and innovation.

As a part of this mission, we are following these students and their projects as they evolve, and following the many other noteworthy innovative missions driving this community.

Stay tuned for our latest stories aimed at positive change and boundless innovation within the Dayton area.