I've been thinking about the concept of home and digital homelessness recently with a prompt from my friend jasmine, especially with my time in nyc lately feeling out what it feels like to be a part of that community.
A lot of people who live in New York talk about the incredible, overwhelming social presence of the city. It's neverending fun. There's always more to do. At the same time, I talked to someone who hadn't found a community that they identified with in New York, like they found visiting SF. I find that dichotomy interesting, how so much of the outward aesthetic of NYC is tied to the enriching social sphere and so much of the SF aesthetic of great nature, tech bros, and unbearable rent is definitively not that.
I suspect that friend found what Andy describes as a hard to discover but very real "weird people taking ideas v seriously" scene.
There's something to be said about the depth of knowledge here. There's a quiet dedication to craft that can be felt that I have found in rare pockets in other places. I wonder if it has to the do with the extremity of the area: the abundance of beautiful nature with the constant fear of petty crime, the rich multicultural history and the Great Gentrification, the flourishing origin of various creative endeavors and the overwhelming societal and economic pressure to be efficient and productive. Perhaps that constant tension between a beautiful future and a fearful one throws into sharp relief the hopeful vision of what could be. We dedicate ourselves to our craft and our purpose and our nature, all the things we love, to preserve that fateful hope for the kind of future we can inhabit.
I love that part of San Francisco. That optimistic aura is the indescribable thing that caught my heart in the first place. I moved out as a naive college student dreaming of working at Google to make the world a better place, and I've grown into a semi-responsible adult who grapples with the inherent conflict of putting that ideology into practice, while still dreaming like a child of creating things that make somebody's world better. I hope I never lose that playful part of me—the child that jumps for joy over those perfect breezy cloudless days, obsesses over exploring the ends of a new toy, and sheepishly subverts the rules of recipes and guidelines in the hopes of creating a new thing of beauty.
From my visit to New York and noticing why I was enjoying the community there so much, I think it's because I was giving so much of myself to the community there as I was visiting, whereas in SF, I'm so settled in now (and used to the heat of COVID quarantine life) that I've neglected to do that. I've grown to be self-sufficient, so I never need to rely on or even interact with the different communities here. In so many ways, SF feels like a home because of the vibe that I described above and how I'm able to focus on my creative endeavors, but it felt like it was missing a piece of that community I found in New York.
While I think the density of New York makes it a lot easier to discover that community there, SF has plenty of that to offer. I think I just need to do a better job of opening myself up to the magic. I do this to a lot of success with nature (well it's not hard given how much of it is around the city)—often telling friends who question my relationship with SF that I fall in love with the city again every time I see golden hour bathe the bridge and the waterfront in dazzling lights and the steady red blinking of Sutro Tower set against the purple and orange horizon.
I think the key is to stay fully settled in yourself while opening yourself up to opportunities and experiences that might be fulfilling. I'm reminded of the idea of micro-interactions from the Convivial Society and Jane Jacobs and how every interaction is an opportunity to connect with the community. In the spirit of mutualism, I want to open myself up to the community through these micro-interactions.
Any suggestions or ideas for finding or engaging with these micro-interactions with the community? Let me know!
I really enjoy reading your posts about community ☺️