The "I Live In!" series provides a glimpse into the different ways that people live in our communities. By understanding how people live, perhaps we get a better understanding of ourselves, our neighborhoods, and cities. For this installment I sought out a resident of one of my now favorite cities (thanks to my husband) - New York City! I caught up with a college class mate Charles Garbareth. I knew of Charles in college but we didn’t formally meet until years later at mutual friends’ wedding. Having been a good friend of my husband, the three of us had a ball at the wedding. Charles kept me laughing the entire time; It was like we clicked! His sense of humor and love of life was contagious; I’m so glad to have met him.
When I heard that Charles was working and living in New York City, I thought he’d be great for this installment of I Live In! I called Charles to conduct our interview over the phone (although a trip to New York would’ve been fabulous!). I was expecting another laugh-out-loud experience for our interview, but what I found was a very chill, thoughtful, and gracious Charles; which I found to be very comforting. He was very happy to speak with me about his ‘humble abode’ and for this humble blogger, I was very appreciative. So on we went with our conversation and it was delightful. I learned more about this home life, and I even learned some surprises along the way….
So Charles I know that you’ve moved to New York from Las Vegas – where in New York do you live?
Well I live in Downtown Brooklyn, and actually, I am living in the Hotel Marriott right now, because I’m in the process of moving to Miami! I’ve only been in New York about six months.
What!? – What made you decide to move to Miami?
Well Miami will be my home base. So I’ll be commuting – about every 15 days I’ll be in New York for work, but living in Miami. I chose Miami because it was away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
So at this point, as a writer, I thought – well there goes my New York City story! But just like life had taken Charles from Las Vegas to New York, to Miami, I was delighted on where the conversation eventually landed…
Interesting – so you’ve gone from Las Vegas to New York, to Miami. Since you’ve lived so many places this question is extremely relevant to you – what does home mean to you?
Hmm…good question! Home is internal. It’s inside of me. Home is that space that you have to build within yourself; I had to build it within myself, especially with traveling so much. My physical home in Miami however, for me, is paradise. It means rejuvenation, and restoration.
Now, where are you originally from?
I grew up in Fulton Missouri.
So you went from a small city to several large cities – how was that experience?
You definitely have more cultural experiences in larger cities, that’s for sure. In a small town, you just have blacks and whites. But now I’ve experienced almost every culture imaginable! And the food choices - let’s not start on the food choices. I’ve discovered however that my favorite food is Caribbean food.
What is your Brooklyn neighborhood like?
My neighbors are mostly young single people. There aren’t many families in the city. Also commuting by transit is how I get around mostly. But the commutes are great. I usually take the train, but if I have a longer commute I’ll take a taxi or bus.
So in Miami and Brooklyn, you live in very urban “downtown” environments. So many people are flocking to downtown urban environments so we all know they’re great, but I want to know, what’s the biggest misperceptions about living “downtown”?
People don’t realize how far your everyday things are. Sure you’re able to access 24-hour amenities, but if you need daily things like groceries, a light bulb, whatever, it’s so far away. In New York, that is why the bodegas are so popular. They are on every corner, and you can shop in your neighborhood.
There was also some safety concerns in the city for me. Growing up in the suburbs of Missouri, I didn’t have to worry about that. But in the city, people pretty much keep to themselves, so you’re not sure who’s “looking out for you” so to speak. In suburban areas, there seems to be more community, and more people looking out for you.
Another misperception is that people in the city are NOT concerned about development issues; but they are! Like for instance when they built the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it included chain restaurants and stores. Some of the people in the neighborhood were concerned that the chains would affect the local stores in the neighborhood. People were afraid of the area being improved too much; preserving character was important to them.
That’s interesting – based on the misperceptions you mentioned, do you think you’ll ever move back to the suburbs?
Yes I will, someday. You know I love the small town environment; that’s essentially what raised me and I value that upbringing. (CS: What values?) – well you know, things like a good church and church family, and good elderly people. The elders in my town really inspired my growth. They are wise and are always willing to share, and I can relate to that. Also I’ll be looking for that feeling of safety that is sometimes hard to find in the city.
After living in three very different urban environments, what advice would you have for someone moving into the city?
Know what you want to do and seek a location that will help you thrive in that. For me I wanted to be a public speaker, so I started my career in Las Vegas. And now after being in these larger markets, my career is thriving.
Also, find a place that makes you feel good, and where there are like minded people – you know if you’re a young professional, seek out places that attract young professionals.
If you do these things, you find a place that aligns with your professional goals and that is aligned with your path in life.
And don’t forget – always look for a good view!
SPEAK NOW - Would you live in a DOWNTOWN environment?
Tifinie Capehart is an Urban Planner and Community Engagement Professional who has worked to engage communities in Nashville TN. To learn about how CitySpeak and Tifinie Capehart can assist your staff in better engaging the communities you work in, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .