Monday, September 21, 2009

salad days

Yesterday was a cloudless and temperate late-summer day in Brooklyn - a perfect day for a street fair. I’ve now lived here for just over a year, and my love for this Borough continues to grow. Prior to 2008, I imagined it as the neglected, illegitimate sibling of a spoiled and privileged Manhattan. Though one might consider its history noteworthy only for the Bridge, the Dodgers and Coney Island, Brooklyn has a rich and storied heritage. To me, it felt immediately familiar.

Archeological evidence demonstrates that the Native American Lenape people populated this area as long as 12,000 years ago. In 1646 the village of Breuckelen (Brooklyn) was chartered by the Dutch West India Company. Though the approximately 2.5 million residents remain largely working class, Brooklyn is also home to a roster of artists, musicians, writers and scholars too large to individually name. In fact, I have heard that Brooklyn boasts more Guggenheim Fellows than any other municipality. It is also responsible for the Teddy Bear, the Roller Coaster, Twizzlers™ and single-packet sugar.

As with any large city, Brooklyn has its share of problems. Yet the culturally diverse residents genuinely appear to love and share their community. The population represents the largest number of people from every cultural, ethnic, and racial background, thus making Brooklyn more like a salad bowl than the proverbial melting pot. Each unique flavor adds to the spice and vitality of the community. Then too, gentrification appears to have been kinder here.

With so much malice and divisiveness occurring in the country today, Brooklyn seems a better angel of the United States’ nature. I wish everyone could experience its magic.

You can have your Tea Parties – I’ll go Brooklyn!

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