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Pictured last summer at their Stafford Street home were new village residents Sarah Strong, center, and her daughters Jane, left, and Sadie. Strong, formerly of Indianapolis, was drawn to Yellow Springs for its sense of community and appreciation for the arts.

Arts, community bring family to YS

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This is the second in an occasional series of articles profiling individuals and families who recently moved to Yellow Springs.

A longtime resident of Indianapolis, artist Sarah Strong was looking for a different sort of place to raise her children. Specifically, she wanted a safe town with a strong sense of community and an appreciation for the arts. After searching for two years, Strong believes she found a home in Yellow Springs.

“It feels like a huge blessing to be here,” she said in a recent interview. “Most people don’t know that living this way is an option. I wanted my daughters to know that it is.”

What’s different about Yellow Springs, Strong believes, is the sense of community that she has found here, which feels very different than their home in the Indiana city, where people seemed less connected and more competitive. That sense of community pervades every aspect of the village, Strong believes, from the arts community to the public schools, creating a relaxed, caring atmosphere.

“Now my daughters are more relaxed. They don’t have to compete and they can find their own groove,” she said of Sadie, 14, and Jane, 12. And as a single parent, she appreciates that “here, my children are answerable to everyone they pass on the street. They have freedom, but they’re answerable to the community. I love that. It brings me great comfort.”

As an artist, Strong believes the support she feels from other artists helps her to relax into trying new things, or taking a break if she needs.

“You can rest if you need to rest, paint wildly if you need to, or put crochet on trees,” she said.

Mainly a printmaker, Strong is displaying her previous work on print and paper at the Art Space, 108 Dayton Street. Her exhibit opens with a reception this Friday, Feb. 20, from 6–9 p.m., as part of the Third Friday Fling.

Trying to explain why she fell in love with Yellow Springs, Strong described a Friday night shortly after she moved here this summer. She was walking downtown to the wine tasting at the Emporium when, standing at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Limestone Street, she was passed by one person on a bike, another on a skateboard and a third person on roller blades, all heading downtown. The moment seemed symbolic to her of the town’s sense of community.

“There was a fluid motion of people coming downtown,” she said. “It made me laugh out loud. It delighted me.”

Serendipity first brought Strong to Yellow Springs. She was driving with a friend to Washington, D.C. at Christmas time several years ago when they decided to take a detour. They turned south on 68 and pretty soon found themselves looking up at the towers of Main Building at Antioch College. The town intrigued her, Strong said, and she felt the urge to come back. She did so several times, camping at John Bryan State Park, hiking in the Glen with her daughters and appreciating the public art she saw all around town.

“It kept getting harder and harder to leave,” she said.

After Strong finished her bachelors of fine arts at the Heron School of Art last spring, the family moved to the village for good. Since then, she’s been busy as the volunteer coordinator of the Arts Council, and her daughters began school, with Sadie at Yellow Springs High School and Jane at McKinney. There are trade-offs, though, and Strong knows she would have an easier time finding a job, preferably as an art teacher, if she were back in the city.

But for the time being she substitute teaches and her family continues to enjoy its introduction to the pleasures of small town life, Yellow Springs-style.

“There’s time here,” she said. “There’s time to get an ice cream cone or to have a conversation. It feels like a healthy place, a place you can grow.”



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