A brief history of making sure you don’t have to live anywhere near anyone you don’t want to in Los Angeles

Imagine that you are in charge of creating an entirely new urban plan to develop the world. You could put parks everywhere, build freeways straight to your door, declare your birthplace a national monument. There’s just one catch: you have no idea, or control over, where you’ll be born or live. How would you design the world then?

Unfortunately, urban planning and public zoning does not take place behind a veil of ignorance.

If it did, perhaps NIMBYism wouldn’t be the driving political force it is today.

Southern California is a strong contender in the auditions for poster region for NIMBYism. The story of Los Angeles’s growth is the story of real estate developers selling a dream of white homeownership to dentists in Topeka and accountants in Peoria. They pushed the Southern California lifestyle as a product in and of itself, so that moving to Los Angeles became a tautological journey to somewhere where the main economic activity was convincing more people like you to move in too.

For those who had purchased the sunny, detached unit, West Coast lifestyle, protecting this investment became of utmost importance. What this meant, starting in the ’20s, but with no end in sight, was keeping out people with the wrong skin colors, religions, credit scores, lifestyles, or affinities.

Early Angeleno homeowners did this by banding into Homeowner’s Associations. These mandated, in addition to lot sizes and the minimum construction costs, the races and ethnicities of who was allowed to purchase homes. Many included provisions excluding non-whites, and sometimes, non-Christians, from living in their communities, except as domestic servants, of course. Through the 1920s, these “protective associations” rendered 95% of LA’s housing stock de facto inaccessible to Black and Asian would-be homeowners. In case this was too subtle, there was always the Klan, which overlapped in motive and membership, if not method.

The United States Supreme Court ruled against these restrictive covenants in 1948 (the California Supreme Court had upheld them in 1919), and California struck down its own law prohibiting non-citizens (but targeted at the Japanese) from owning or making long leases on agricultural land two years later. Where there’s a will, however, there’s usually a way to keep out people you don’t want to live among, and so neighborhoods started organizing exclusivity through the channels of geography, policy, and accessibility.

Geography

Geographically, many white homeowners simply left, creating new suburbs in the San Fernando Valley where developers could ignore legal mandates and continue to redline out whomever they didn’t want. It’s like the old saying, “if you don’t like somebody, move away from them into a gated community miles away.”

Policy

Politically, neighborhoods began incorporating as their own “minimal cities,” contracting out social services like firefighting and mail, and levying their own taxes as they saw fit. Deciding you are your own city is like playing a Libertarian expansion pack in SimCity. If renters or low-income residents are dragging you down, you can just zone them out. If unions crop up among your social services, you can simply terminate that company’s contract. And best of all, the larger, capital G government can never touch your property as a resource for redistribution. These Cities By Contract, like the charter schools that offer a micro model of their logic, are still gaining favor among residents of wealthy enclaves who would prefer to not be pushed into paying for services they themselves might not be in immediate need of.

This protectionist tradition in local politics is alive and well and living by the beach. Right before Thanksgiving, residents of Newport Shores, an enclave of wealthy Newport Beach, crowded a City Council meeting in an attempt to block a twelve-unit affordable housing project for seniors and veterans. One man (whose eponymous personal injury firm assures that “when life gets difficult, we are here for you”), said he objected to building what he referred to as “the projects of Newport Shores,” since the town already has enough affordable housing. “Newport Shores has effectively become the dumping ground for Newport Beach,” he continued, and his former neighbors in wherever he used to live before Newport Shores clucked in agreement (conjecture; stricken from the record).

It’s also seen in measures to block development of more homes near you because they might be ugly or bring in unsavory types. Now, I am of a split mind on development. There’s a reason the West Village in NYC is soooo charming and fun to walk around in (old, small buildings and Amanda Burden made everyone stop building up), but is it the same one (old, small buildings and Amanda Burden made everyone stop building up) that makes it the most expensive place in the universe? Further, how dense can you get before it starts taking a toll on residents? People get spooked when they feel crowded, whether it’s from around or above them. I moved to the other side of the country in part to escape feeling this way.

But to get affordable housing you have to do one of two things: 1. regulate existing units’ costs and/or 2. build more units and charge less or hope flooding the market knocks down prices. My hunch is that it’s gonna take a combination of the two. The question remains, then, where are these affordable units, whether built or regulated into existence, going to be? If you’re anything like the residents of Los Angeles, you’re not sure, but you would prefer not within eyesight, or perhaps your lifetime. A new ballot measure would stop any construction requiring zoning changes from proceeding without specific oversight. Its key backers, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, are headquartered next door to the two proposed apartment buildings they hope to block. I lived in between the ever-rising Barclays Center condos and the controversial Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project for over 2 years, so I get how annoying it is to be near construction, but that’s a bit suspect, especially for an organization focusing on a cause that traditionally includes housing as part of its mission. And if we’re going to develop anywhere, it should probably be in a dense, public-transit-adjacent part of the city. By blocking construction there, you really just push it outward, which increases commute times and with them, pollution.

Accessibility

But you don’t have to bother to legislate people away from your community if they have no way to get there. Wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverley Hills, located on the western coastline of the city, simply pushed to prevent freeways from linking them to the more plebeian East Side. The freeways got built instead in poorer areas, where transportation developers came across less protest. Now, these same wealthy neighborhoods are trying to block construction of the Purple Line subway that would allow you to reach the beach with a single method of public transportation (currently, you have to drive or take a bus). According to Portland State University urban planning professor Sy Adler, “by keeping transit projects out, wealthy neighborhoods around the country have created de facto gated communities.” Laws are only as good as their enforcement, and your area is only as accessible as it is reachable.

The proposed Purple Line would bring the subway to the wealthy West Side. It is also the West Coast’s answer to New York’s Second Avenue Line. In talks since the 1980s, it finally broke ground just this year. “I’m determined we will have the last bit of this open before I die,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the ceremony, showing the drama and geologic timescale one doesn’t always expect from transportation projects. Current plans for this “Subway to the Sea” have it stopping 3 miles short of that goal.

White people in LA famously don’t take the bus, so when you block public transit from an area, we know who you’re blocking. But white people aren’t just avoiding the 10-mile-per-hour bus speeds, they simply live in sparser neighborhood where bus service doesn’t run or would drop them too far from their homes (“sparser,” of course, means, “nicer”– single family homes, lawns, long driveways.) It’s a Mobius strip of anti-transit development feeding anti-transit attitudes feeding anti-transit habits feeding anti-transit development.

Maybe this would all be okay if people you didn’t want to live near would just go live somewhere else, or magically disappear. But if you redline, out-price, and out-zone people, you don’t actually solve anything. You merely create a situation in which people build slums, crowd as many people as possible into homes, or simply leave entirely. As Woody Guthrie almost sang, this land is your backyard, this land is my backyard. Just because you got there first doesn’t mean you get to keep out people who don’t look like you, then expect them to travel far distances, without public transportation, to come clean your low density, single family, detached, sunny Californian house.

+++

Note: Basically everything I know about Los Angeles is from City of Quartz by Mike Davis, which should help explain my dual fascination/horror at the place. While looking for sources to corroborate its facts and ideas, I mostly found more people citing it. So any fact you don’t see linked to a source, you can assume is credited to Mike Davis.

Another note: The Wikipedia article on NIMBY is really fun because it includes all sorts of acronym alternatives to NIMBY, like BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything/Anyone), SOBBY (Some Other Bugger’s Back Yard), NIABY (Not In Anyone’s Backyard [a kinder, more Kantian NIMBY]), and the satire of the environmental justice movement-coined PIBBY (Place In Blacks’ Back Yard).

 

Get to Know a Donor: Jonathan Leibovic

 

11816344_10153041696538231_4224271886715768529_o

I got to know Jonathan Leibovic in school, when we both worked with the Student Farmworker Alliance. Among other campaigns, our group held protests, teach-ins, and parties to raise attention and funds for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. I soon found out that most people in the group treated this activism as a fulltime endeavor, and would go on to find small, meaningful ways to keep striving for a more equal and just society. Jonathan was no exception.

I’ve run into Jonathan twice since college. The first was in Providence, where I learned from him that he was training to be a science teacher. The second was in New York City at the People’s Climate March in fall 2014. As surprising as it was to see someone I hadn’t in years, it was pretty un-shocking that I found him there. Catching up with him toward the end of the route, he told me a bit more about how teaching in Philadelphia, now his job, was going.

Jonathan was full of warmth in welcoming me into SLA, a pretty tight knit group I strolled into one day after lurking on the listserv for too long.  He’s witty, caring, and just the right balance of realistically angry, sad, and motivated by the problems of the world to be a force to take seriously.

He also wins tons of points for being so far the only person to not only get what this blog’s title references, but like it. I will be forever grateful for that.

+++

Besides affordable housing, a cause that matters to me: Listening, because when we genuinely listen to each other we often discover that (1) problems that seem unrelated might actually be the same, and (2) problems that might seem intractable can sometimes — but definitely not always — have a simple solution.

11782285_10153539842239532_7627200651503181951_o

What’s something you recently taught one/some/all of your students? I recently taught all of my students that nobody can force them to say the Pledge of Allegiance or even to stand while it is being recited.  Our assistant principal reprimanded two 8th graders during a recent assembly for not standing during the pledge.  We’ve also been talking a lot about Flint, Michigan recently.  Above every sink in Philadelphia Public Schools (not the water fountains, fortunately) is a warning sign declaring “Do Not Drink from This Sink.”  This week my students will be testing water quality from several sinks and water fountains in the school building.

What’s something one/some/all of your students recently taught you? One of my 8th graders recently told me that his Wii sensor bar was broken.  “So I looked up some videos on Youtube about how to fix it, and I saw that you can use candles.”  What do you mean?  Use candles for what?  “Here, let me show you the video.”  Well, you’re not supposed to be on your phone during school hours, but… okay, fine.  He pulls up the video, which shows a young man gesturing at a TV screen with a Wii-mote.  Instead of the typical infra-red sensor bar, there are a pair of tea-light candles, about 2 feet apart, in front of the TV screen.  And the Wii appears to be functioning normally.  I cautioned him that it could be fake.  “It’s not.  I tried it.”  Hmm.  Can you bring it in tomorrow and show me?  “Sure.  Oh, and Mr. Leibovic?”  Yes?  “Is that science?”  Yes, kiddo, that’s science.  He brought it in the next day and really did work.

487764_3650116446694_581573734_n

What’s your favorite piece of technology? How about non-digital technology? It’s a toss-up between the bicycle and the toaster oven.  Paper is also pretty cool.  And jet-packs.  Do we have jet-packs yet?

What percentage of your crying sessions are due to sadness, happiness, onion, and other, would you estimate? Please define any given Other percentages. These days most of my tears are onion-induced, but every once in a while there’s a slice of the Cry Pie reserved for genuine emotion.  I cried once last year (my first year teaching) after school because I realized that in spite of my best efforts, half of my students were failing math and wouldn’t get into the high schools they had applied to, and while I was cleaning up a pile of sunflower seed husks that someone had spat into a corner behind the computer desks I heard a troupe of 4th graders singing “I Believe I Can Fly” in the hallway, and I just sat in a corner and blubbered for a while until one of the janitors came in.

If you could make something required reading for everyone on the planet, what would it be? The Little Prince.  Every person should be required to read it out loud to a young child.

 12186369_10153217799768231_1413084103531704919_o

Madi’s question: What podcasts do you listen to? What’s a podcast?  Just kidding, I’m not that old yet, but getting there.  Listen, young whippersnapper, before podcasts we had this thing called radio.  It’s like a podcast except you can only listen to whatever they’re playing at the time.  But there are different stations, maybe a dozen or so depending on the town you live in.  Philadelphia has this wonderful radio station called WHYY, and it airs some of my favorite programming including RadioLab, Snap Judgment, American Roots, and The Best of CarTalk.  It also airs some of my least favorite programming (see Prairie Home Companion, Wits, You Bet Your Garden, and anything having to do with pledge drive season).  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that every weeknight at 7:00 pm I switch my radio dial to 88.5 WXPN to catch Kids’ Corner with Kathy O’Connell. [Ed. note: you can listen to WHYY live from in/outside of Philadelphia here. Also, lolz @ show called You Bet Your Garden]

259868_1919327227333_4906708_n

A vintage shot from the student activism days

What question should I ask the next person? Ask them what we should name the (hypothetical) new planet!

The Transient Can’t-Retirees

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.30.38 PM

Source: LA Times

The Los Angeles Times wrote a really powerful portrait of people who are “too poor to retire and too young to die.”

With their savings wiped away by the recession and the high cost of living, many are trading the visions of leisure and rest they expected of their twilight years for a nomadic existence in camper trailers, finding seasonal work wherever they can.

Read it here.

Biking in LA: Faster than anything else

 

xtown traffic

They didn’t provide a color key, so just guess who’s who

Ha! Los Angeles public radio staged a race between a car, a bicyclist, and public transportation, going crosstown from downtown to the beach during rush hour (which is a misnomer, as it lasts 24 hours). The results?

Car (including parking time): 70 minutes

Bus: 94 minutes

Bike: 65 minutes

The bike would have been even faster if he biked using the sidewalks like you’re not allowed to do I and everyone else I see on a bike does. If would have been slower, however, if someone else were biking. I’ve biked this path too, and while a lady never tells her pace, let’s just say it did not take me 65 minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.17.25 PM

The bike guy’s route. Not really sure about the 7 minute and 11 second difference between recorded and official times

An Afternoon in Skid Row with #HappyPeriod and #HashtagLunchbag

Hello again! It’s me, Jenna. Back in December, I read an article in Vice about a group in LA that puts together kits of women’s health products and hands them out to homeless women. Then I wrote about it here, noting at the end that I had emailed the group’s founder and would let you know when I heard from them. Well, I heard from them!

IMG_4120

#HappyPeriod meets about once a month to assemble and then distribute kits of supplies. On the east side, they meet at a community arts center in Crenshaw, and out west, they give out to people living on the Santa Monica/Venice Beach boardwalk.

Chelsea Von Chaz started the group one year ago (their anniversary is actually today, February 7th!) after working with some friends on #HashtagLunchbag (they spell it with both the symbol and the word because it’s funny and sort of rhymes). #HashtagLunchbag started from a group of Los Angeles friends looking to do some good one day in 2012, then repeating the experience after so many of their friends, seeing their social media posts of them handing out lunches to homeless people, asked when the next one was and if they could come. It has since expanded to over 100 chapters worldwide.

At each #HashtagLunchbag event, people assemble bag lunches, (“the kind your mom made you in grade school that made the other kids jealous” as they say on their site) and take to the streets to hand them out individually, providing food, a drink, and some conversation and good wishes. Each bag includes a handwritten little note with a cheerful message. Chelsea was inspired to expand this model of collecting donations, assembling goody bags, and taking them directly to people in need, to period supplies.

unnamed (2)

Entering the arts center, I found an assembly line of about fifteen women working together to put together bags from donated supplies each had brought. I added my contribution to the pile of pads, taking up a post toward the beginning of the line. Until supplies ran out, I put four tampons in each bag the person ahead of me (whose job was opening the bags– plastic bags are crazy invested in sticking to themselves) handed me. I then handed over each bag to the next woman, after which they would pass through the hands of women who added pads, soap, liners, underwear, and plastic sandwich bags with wet wipes. After we finished collating the materials, we topped off each bag with a #HappyPeriod sticker.

Chelsea was super sweet, joking and taking photos. She also was wearing a dress that said her middle name, Von Chaz (her mom made it up because she liked how it sounded), on it, which I found perhaps the most amazing thing in the world, and which she said she had gotten made. The women seemed in their twenties and thirties. One had just finished writing a screenplay she’d been working on for a year; a few were actors on a TNT show. Most had been to previous #HappyPeriod meetups, but another had just heard about it from an article, like me. It came out that there were a quite a few Alabamians in the room, which was met with great joy by every member of that contingent that discovered each other. People were admirably generous with hugs.

IMG_4121

Once we finished with the period sets, we headed to help #HashtagLunchbag make lunch. People surrounded a central table in the middle of the art center’s theater to lay out slices of bread, followed by turkey and cheese to make complete sandwiches, which they wrapped up with a cookie. Volunteers shuttled these bundles of lunch sandwich and sandwich cookie to the stage, where more dispensed fruit, Chex mix, mustard, and assorted other snacks. Each bag got a beverage ranging from water to chocolate milk to apple juice. When we got done making the bags, we loaded them into trash bags that we dispersed to a few people’s cars, took a group photo, cleaned up, and drove out to Skid Row in our caravan.

IMG_4123

All discussions of homelessness in LA include a mention of Skid Row. It’s a small strip of downtown where people who society has let fall through the cracks have created their own version of it. It’s like what Burning Man would be if it weren’t for rich people, temporary, or optional. Despite hearing about it, I hadn’t been to Skid Row before today. On the drive over, I thought about asking where it was, but was pretty sure I’d know when we got there even without prior knowledge. Eli, the person who offered to drive me, played a mix of classical music and opera in the car, which made for a pretty intense soundtrack to our route.

Before we even reached Skid Row, we noticed a man sitting on the sidewalk without shoes, obviously homeless. We pulled over as one of the people from another of our cars got out to give him a lunch bag. As we pulled away, I saw him look inside the bag, then put it next to him for later.

IMG_4135

As expected, there was no mistaking Skid Row. It’s a world unto itself, for those who live outside the workings of the economy and the laws passed to prop it up. Instead of condos, tents lined the streets; instead of working, people chatted with their neighbors or danced; instead of single family homes hiding life from view, everything was in the open, visible to any passerby. Everything reeked subtly of urine (so much as that smell can ever be a delicate note), and there was an element of unpredictability enhanced by the many people who in other circumstances (say, before Governor Reagan and his predecessors shut down the asylums in the 1950s) would have been given psychiatric treatment.

IMG_4126

One of the most striking images of Skid Row for me was this dance party

Unlike the rest of the world, every block was lined with people homeless but for a tent or makeshift structure, but it turned out that in Skid Row, like everywhere else, the park, last vestige of the commons, is ground zero for people with no place else to go. We drove up to Skid Row’s park, which was filled with people, and stopped the cars.

Upon exiting, people immediately approached us, correctly asking if we were about to hand something out. It made me wonder how often that happens, and what people donate. Also, that people on Skid Row assume the only reason someone with a choice about whether or not to be there would come would be to dispense charity shows how isolated this community really is.

While most of the #HappyPeriod crew went to find people in need of their particular brand of help, I stayed with the #HashtagLunchbag team to start emptying the pounds of lunches in the backseat of the car I had come in.

IMG_4127

The backseat of Eli’s car after we had already given out a ton of lunches

Slinging the large black plastic trash bags filled with small paper lunch bags over my shoulder, I felt like a really off-brand version of Santa Claus. I always feel weird giving stuff out or otherwise serving the benefactor role, because the only thing separating me from the people accepting my largess is my support network and that I showed up at a volunteering event and they didn’t. So I had a hard time denying people second lunch bags even though I’d intellectually prefer as many people as possible got one. If I were hungry, I’d want more than one sandwich. Who am I to deny people the great luxury of a second water bottle?

IMG_4130

As people saw their neighbors open their lunches, it came out that not all lunches were created equal, or the same. People came up to me with requests for certain lunchbox fillings, which I tried my best to fulfill. But no one ever specified a type of food to me. Instead, people were intent on getting enough and the right type of liquid. People whose bags contained no drink came back asking for water, and if I couldn’t find a bottle in any of my bags, accepted chocolate milk or juice. My own 32 ounce refillable water bottle, snug under my seat in the car with still-cool tap water, had never seemed like such an indulgence.

IMG_4137

This first stop was where I encountered the only behavior that made me feel uncomfortable. One woman hovered around me, requesting bag after bag for herself, her boy, her man, any other people she knew or could make up. I acquiesced to three relatives because 1. who am I to say how many people she knows 2. even if it’s just to feed her, I’d still be happy if one person can eat for a few days (and see above about feeling no moral superiority) and 3. fear– if you’re the type of person to come up to someone handing out food and demand more and more, you’re exactly the type of person I’m not looking to cross. When she ran out of family members (real or imagined), she just started petitioning for the whole trashbag of bags. I removed myself from the situation, walking back to the car and pondering the wisdom in only taking a few bags out at a time so no one could ask for any more than I had on me. I then saw her ask Eli, my car-mate, for more bags, but when he saw how many bags she already had (I sheepishly didn’t offer any explanation for how she had gotten them), he said “You have so many already,” laughed to himself, and went about his business.

IMG_4139

The only other awkward moment was pretty minor, but still showed me how I needed to shift my behavior to this new situation. A man, on taking a lunch bag from me, asked if I was a name I now forget, someone I suppose he knew. My immediate reaction was a joking “yes, I am,” before I realized a split second later you don’t do sarcasm with people with such a loose grip on reality. “I am only joking,” I quickly course corrected, but he hadn’t bothered to stick around to find out.

IMG_4128

When everyone in our line of sight appeared to be digging into a brown paper bag, we loaded up the cars again and drove to our next and final stop. This was a strip of tents and makeshift shelters lining warehouses and other marginally ignored spaces. It was a neighborhood, not in the sense that they have a homeowners’ association, but in the older sense that people knew and were looking out for each other. When we asked one man, who seemed to be outlining sidewalk land rights by the fiat of a black roll of duct tape, if he would like a lunch, his neighbor let us know that he was deaf. I placed a bag near him and made smiling eye contact, upon which he reached for the bag.

When one woman walked through, talking loudly and pushing a cart of goods, Chelsea called out to ask her if she would like feminine hygiene products before telling us that she could tell that woman was a resident of the actual houses near Skid Row. When I asked how she could tell, she answered that it was how her hair looked, how she held herself– you just learned to get a sense of these things.

People bicycled through the street, their outfits clashing in a way that could equally have suggested they were on route to a music festival or free healthcare clinic. The volunteers lamented how quickly Downtown was gentrifying, and how four blocks from here– no, another corrected, just one block from here– you would see tony condos and office high rises. Another reminisced about a loft he had almost bought Downtown, for under $200,000, which now would be worth over a million, but “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

IMG_4134

We packed up, promised to return next month, and drove away from the tents, first to 96 cent stores and signs in Spanish, then to the high rises and freeways of Downtown. Everything reversed back into place. No longer were the homeless the norm in space use and culture. They receded into the background, hidden dots among a larger society dedicated to working to pay the bills that would prevent them from ever having to ask a volunteer to rifle through a trash bag in search of a water bottle.

IMG_4141

This is sort of off topic, but I’m really confused about the existence of 96 Cent stores

Eli very kindly asked how I planned on getting home. When I told him I didn’t have a car, he said he would drive me out of Skid Row, so as to not leave me alone and potentially vulnerable. After initially dropping me at a bus stop, he changed his mind and drove me all the way home.

If you’re in Los Angeles and want to come with me to #HappyPeriod and #HashtagLunchbag events, let me know! If you’re anywhere else, check out where #HappyPeriod and #HashtagLunchbag have chapters, or start your own!

 

 

Get to Know a Donor: Kate Khanna

1508517_10204050909257636_7173309032247005902_nIf an academic journal had a baby with a dance party, Kate Khanna would probably be the result. While Kate lived down the hall from me freshman year, I didn’t really get to know her until she moved a few blocks aways from me in Brooklyn in 2014. Right away, she reached out to me, and within a week it was as if we had been best friends for years. Kate is cynical but optimistic, determined but empathetic, and other combinations of things that aren’t really antonyms but still make her into a complex, fascinating person to talk with. She didn’t love New York, so she moved to Boston on the promise of an unpaid, part time internship doing qualitative research in health care, a field she wasn’t familiar with. Once moved, Kate got a part time job at a cafe, taught herself stats on the side, and got hired as a full time staff member at her organization. Now she’s all applied to sociology PhD programs. Despite my displeasure at her moving away from me, I have to admit she had a pretty kickass year in Boston, and I’m really excited to find out what’s next for Kate!

+++

Besides affordable housing, a cause that matters to me is: feminism/gender equity. As a soon-to-be sociologist, my nerd-out topic of choice is the way that gender norms inconspicuously pervade our daily lives and reproduce gender inequality. I am fascinated by the cultural assumptions, linguistic choices, and preconceived notions that often subtly influence gender ideology.

 

What’s your favorite anthropologic concept? Oh man (gendered term). Did they teach us those? I would say that one of my favorites is the idea of the Maussian gift. Named after the French sociologist Marcel Mauss, it refers to the way that giving a gift generates a debt that must be repaid and therefore creates a social tie between between the giver and recipient in the meantime. Very theoretical, but I’ve found it surprisingly relevant to real life.

10497990_10153060372031490_4727627440472684091_o

Kate and Becca in Central Park

How would you describe the difference between NYC and Boston? New York City and Boston have so many differences. But besides just the fact that there’s so much more room to walk on the sidewalks in Boston, I think the culture and lifestyle are drastically different. In New York, everyone is transient, very few people will stay there longterm, and it’s such a hodgepodge of people (which is great!) that there’s not as much of a feeling of belonging or community. In Boston, once you’re in Boston, you’re in BOSTON, and don’t you forget it. Also, no matter how much money people have, people (at least our age) don’t live extravagant lifestyles. You can have a nicer apartment or eat at some nicer restaurants, but for the most part people live, eat, and play in much the same way. There are no loft apartments or extravagant meals or bottle service at clubs. That’s just not the way most people choose to live.

My favorite feminist joke, expression, etc. is: I like the t-shirts floating around the Internet right now that say “A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate.”

11696456_10153422554443890_14665859868131626_o

The best egg replacer for recipes is: Yogurt! The secret for cookies is yogurt. Cookies don’t need much glue, just moisture, so as long as the recipe doesn’t call for more than a few eggs, a rounded spoon of yogurt per egg does the trick. The other secret is to find cake recipes with the right oil and water combinations that just don’t require eggs. The more you’re “substituting,” the harder it will be to reproduce the original dessert. [Ed. note: Kate is vegetarian, and does not eat eggs]
10262118_10203135171764771_3359580811556790040_n

Kate as Lana from Archer [with me as Wikipedia 🙂 ] on Halloween!

What question should I ask the next person? What is one piece of life wisdom you’ve learned in the past 5 years? Might be a hard one, but could be really interesting, especially depending on the person’s age!

Joe’s question: How do you solve a problem like Maria? And isn’t our problematization of Maria itself, a problem? In response to the former: they didn’t teach me how to solve anything, only how to problematize it. And in response to the latter: perhaps, but you would have to problematize the problematization of Maria to find out.