They’re Alive! (Or at Least One City Is)

The 10 Fastest Dying Cities, according to Forbes’ magazine, have united to produce a weekend-long symposium and arts festival called Ten Living Cities. But are any of them alive except for Dayton?

Buffalo, N.Y.; Canton, Ohio; Charleston, W. Va.; Cleveland, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Scranton, Pa.; Springfield, Mass. and Youngstown, Ohio — what do they have in common? A year ago they were named as the 10 Fastest Dying Cities in America by Forbes magazine. In an effort to show that these cities are in fact, not only not dying but actually alive and prospering, they’ve joined together to hold a joint symposium and art festival. A great idea in theory — but is it going to be a great event in reality?

At three days from the event, there’s not much of an agenda online. Invitations have been sent to mayors and other officials, but few outside of Dayton seem confirmed. Searching for information online, I found a Facebook group … last updated in May. Next American City tries not to hit a city when it’s already down and so my point here isn’t to pick on the event organizers, but perhaps to offer some constructive criticism. Here are five suggestions on how these cities could rehab their images:

1. Hosting a joint event about the common struggles of 10 cities is only valuable if all 10 cities respond. Maybe this event should have just been a Dayton-centric event? Would that help Dayton pull ahead of the pack?
2. Countering the claim that your city is dead with a “No we’re not!” only makes it seem like you’re actually dead. Perhaps a funnier response would have been some kind of dying-themed tour of these cities’ riches.

Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

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