By Yako and Krystal

May 14, 2014, 10:56 am

 

who is my neighbor

I don’t know how you feel about it, but this past winter seemed the longest ever. Those dreadful rainy and cold days never seemed to end. It made me feel so down. And together with a vitamin D deficiency, I was bordering on depression.

Those days are over! Well at least for the next 6 months, because summer is upon us!

Perhaps it’s the anticipation of summer that I am so excited about. The longing for hot sweltering days baking in the sun, trips to Rockaway Beach with friends, BBQ’s in Prospect Park, outside concerts, Friday afternoon drinks with co-workers on a terrace on Lewis or Franklin Avenue, to name a few things that I’m looking forward to.

Of course once the 90+ degree summer days are here, I will regret having put so much wishful thinking into this. Especially when I’m heading to the subway dripping with sweat, feeling embarrassed on the train trying to hide the perspiration sipping through my shirt.

Well, that’s a worry for later. Currently I’m elated about the advent of summer!

I had my first day on the balcony. With a plate of fine cheese and some good wine (that’s what we do in Europe). I could feel the neighborhood come alive with the sounds of summer. Music playing out of cars parked in the street. My neighbors hanging out, enjoying the beautiful weather, relaying the latest gossip or sharing wonderful fish tales.

Even if the music blasting from the speakers is not always my favorite music, I enjoy it immensely. It gives me such a sense of community. Everybody just seems happier and more open, less bundled up, both literally and figuratively.

I remember last year, when during one night, club music was playing from an establishment across the street from where I live. It was 2:00 in the morning, so I could have complained about the loud music, but instead, the joy that it brought to those dancing to it, elevated me.

It gave me pleasure, even when not participating. Same with block parties and street BBQ’s. Secretly, I wish I could join all of them mingling and chatting. But I’m not that social. So instead, I vicariously enjoy these activities while passing by.

Ok, I realize I’m being all sentimental and tolerant about things that others might find annoying. And I get it. If you have to get up early the next morning for work and loud music is keeping you up all night, it’s not always that pleasant. But it’s also part of the cultural makeup of the neighborhood that has been laid down for generations.

In that sense, I can share Spike Lee’s sentiment about gentrification. I would not have expressed it in such harsh terms as he did last February, but he has a point here. Complaining about your neighbors sometimes makes sense. But nowadays, we don’t even make an effort to get to know who lives next door. So, what to do about it?

As I had mentioned earlier, I’m not that social and as a result, I don’t really know my neighbors either. But I always make an effort, greet everyone I meet in the hallway. Just saying hello does wonders. Most of my neighbors don’t know me either, but I bet they think I’m a nice guy because of that.

For the bold ones among you, you could try small talk. It establishes rapport. And next time when the nocturnal sounds of summer are really too unbearable, the step to ring the bell and request for the volume to be turned down a notch, is much easier.

Works way better for a sense of community than calling the cops on your neighbor.

So my advice for this upcoming hot summer is: wear a lot of sun block, and talk to your neighbors. It prevents you from getting burnt.

Yako


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About The Author

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I later learned that Americans speak English). At the age of 23, I traveled to South Africa where I lived for seven months to finalize my thesis for my master's in Business Administration. After that, I worked for eight years for a bank in Amsterdam, but I became restless and decided to quit my job and make the big leap across the ocean to New York. Studying arts and culture management at Pratt Institute helped me eradicate some of the prejudices I had of Americans. I never thought I would stay this long. But now eight years later, I'm still here. I live in Central Brooklyn and work for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation with great satisfaction. So far, my life feels as if I’m on one big adventure. | Krystal: As a native of Michigan, I moved to New York with a limited perspective of the depth and importance of social differences. Having a passion for creativity, I accepted the various ideas behind expression and equality that poured out from this beautiful, diverse place called Brooklyn. After graduating from Pratt Institute in 2006 with a degree in Communications Design and barely surviving the effects of forced independence, I started an open relationship with the nonprofit world and began to willingly become my own person. Since then, I have been employed and freelance as a graphic designer, with tons of exposure to the things that fascinated me as a child. Living in two culturally different environments has granted me a faceted understanding of social norms and injustices that I feel compelled to speak on. Though visual art and design have been my concentrations since grade school, writing and sharing thoughts socially has been my core calling. In keeping my promise to my parents, I have finally decided to write for social impact. Standing up for my truth while seeking and discovering the truths of others is the way in which I've chosen to take that on. So far, I've discovered that the most direct route to societal improvements begins with the coupling of self-awareness and humility.

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I later learned that Americans speak English). At the age of 23, I traveled to South Africa where I lived for seven months to finalize my thesis for my master's in Business Administration. After that, I worked for eight years for a bank in Amsterdam, but I became restless and decided to quit my job and make the big leap across the ocean to New York. Studying arts and culture management at Pratt Institute helped me eradicate some of the prejudices I had of Americans. I never thought I would stay this long. But now eight years later, I'm still here. I live in Central Brooklyn and work for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation with great satisfaction. So far, my life feels as if I’m on one big adventure. | Krystal: As a native of Michigan, I moved to New York with a limited perspective of the depth and importance of social differences. Having a passion for creativity, I accepted the various ideas behind expression and equality that poured out from this beautiful, diverse place called Brooklyn. After graduating from Pratt Institute in 2006 with a degree in Communications Design and barely surviving the effects of forced independence, I started an open relationship with the nonprofit world and began to willingly become my own person. Since then, I have been employed and freelance as a graphic designer, with tons of exposure to the things that fascinated me as a child. Living in two culturally different environments has granted me a faceted understanding of social norms and injustices that I feel compelled to speak on. Though visual art and design have been my concentrations since grade school, writing and sharing thoughts socially has been my core calling. In keeping my promise to my parents, I have finally decided to write for social impact. Standing up for my truth while seeking and discovering the truths of others is the way in which I've chosen to take that on. So far, I've discovered that the most direct route to societal improvements begins with the coupling of self-awareness and humility.

One Response

  1. Scott Setterlund

    Yako,

    I would like to use the photo in an email at the top of this article and wanted to know if that would be okay?

    Scott

    Reply

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