Friday, July 24, 2009

Judgment Call

Thanks again to Faye over at Brokelyn for the shout out and the kind words about your MatchGirl:
the tattoorific blogger behind Unemployed Brooklyn, a diary of her take on the jobless, single life in Greenpoint, which she started after losing her job with a cosmetics company last November. (How can such a cutie be flying solo? We thinks her TV debut is going to put an end to that.)

(aw, Faye - you make a girl blush!)

I want to take a moment to talk about the comment that some calling themselves BackToTheMidWest made in the comments section of the post, regarding my supposed trust fund. Normally this is the kind of thing I would let go, but there has been so much talk lately about Williamsburg and Greenpoint and how everyone who lives there moved there, with a trust fund, because it was hip and trendy - the cool place to move.

I moved to Greenpoint, on the north side, five years ago, after living in Boston for eleven years. The move to Greenpoint was definitely not because it was the place to be. In fact, most of the bars and restaurants that you think of as Greenpoint didn't even exist. Franklin street was desolate. We moved to Greenpoint because we could afford it. Now, I love the neighborhood and have no intention of leaving anytime soon, but if I'd moved to New York with a trust fund, there is no way that, five years ago, it would have been this neighborhood. It wasn't even the same neighborhood.

And to address the trust funds, etc ...

It started with the New York Times article about parents of trustafarians pulling the plug on their spoiled kids. I don't know any trust fund babies (that I am aware of), but, of course, I'm a woman in my 30s and it's been a long time (more than 15 years) since anyone supported me financially. And, while I don't want to pass judgment on people I don't know, I am sure that Williamsburg (like many other neighborhoods in NYC) has a bunch of people who live the good life on the backs of mom and dad.

New York Magazine responded with two editorials. The first Williamsburg Will Eat itself, talks about how it's always been the thing to do, to mock the 20-something hipster kids and refers to how Williamsburg needs trust funds for its existence:
The trust fund is to Williamsburg like the yin to its yang, the day to its night: One cannot exist without the other.

The second, Beyond Hipsters: Williamsburg's Tough Economic Reality, says "screw you" to the stereotypes and speaks to the realities of the neighborhood. Again, I've never lived in Williamsburg, but I spend a lot of time there. Our neighborhoods touch. And they are included together in the U.S. Census.
According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the most recent and reliable data, Williamsburg continues to lag behind other parts of New York in terms of income, with significant populations needing social services such as food stamps, soup kitchens, housing assistance, and SSI. In 2005, 47.1 percent of Community Board 1, which contains Greenpoint and Williamsburg, was on some type of income support. The median income for the area in the last twelve months was $39,663, well below the city median of $48,631. In 2007, 38.3 percent of residents in the 11211 Zip Code were below the poverty level.

Finally, there was an article in the New York Times in May, addressing Greenpoint as a slowly up and coming area and the day to day realities of living in this neighborhood, from a real estate perspective.

Every neighborhood, gentle readers, in every city, is a living and breathing organism. There is a constant ebb and flow, people move in and out, hipsters grow up and get married, babies are born, people die. Parks are created, schools are closed, restaurants burn down, shops take their place. To be so single minded about a community, and to judge it so harshly based on something you know nothing about, is just sad.

You know what happens when you assume ...

1 comment:

  1. Matchgirl, maybe it's Antony singing in the background, but this post was so astute, and so...poetic, it almost made me cry. Thanks for reminding me how layered is life, and how easily we forget the truth. - From a fellow unemployed, truth-seeking Greenpointer girl