Working for the Love of It in Williamsburg, NYC
In this first installment of the Originals, we asked a dozen people in Williamsburg (and a few in Soho) what they think the future of work is. Everybody in this neck of the woods seems to have strong feelings about where things are headed. This is a group that is unabashedly biased towards optimism.
There are few places in America that better embody artisanal, independent, communitarian techno-futurism than Williamsburg, NYC. Walking the streets of this Brooklyn ‘hood reveals more than the hipster beards and horned rim glasses. You’ll also find Eames lounge chairs converted into dj stations, $13 “boozie shakes,” donation-funded ping-pong clubs, locavore flea-food fairs, an ongoing war between activist cyclists and Hasidic minivan drivers. Yes, it would be easy to laugh off the scene as one big youthful indiscretion, an explosion of earnest bohemianism that seems to find a ready host in every new generation of affluent (and mostly white) twenty-somethings.
On the other hand, in a time when the conventional economic system is working for fewer and fewer of us, when the presiding order of things is either discredited or wobbly as hell, the pragmatic and action-oriented brand of idealism you see in Wiliamsburg offers an attractive counter-model. It’s no wonder that this area has spawned popular online marketplaces like Etsy and Kickstarter, both of which have brought this new ethos to millions of people who don’t happen to live in Brooklyn. Perhaps more of us can live more creative, fulfilling lives through more independence from traditional jobs. Perhaps we do crave more direct connection to our food and other goods, and are willing to pay more for them when we can see where the money goes. And perhaps this is precisely the route that kindles the most vibrant and meaningful communities.