Streets were opened for play and socially distant gatherings. Restaurants turned spaces that were otherwise intended for cars into al fresco dining. Protected bike lanes have been added. Electric scooters have been legalized. Summer camps for children opened up in the open air and the parks were full of people.
And there was music everywhere.
Aside from just being outdoors, New Yorkers showed they cared about each other. Mutual aid organizations appeared on the left and right in the city districts. Racial justice protests fought hard to change policing.
There have been and are huge disparities in the employment and economic situation, and the virus persists – all issues that have yet to be resolved. But if you’ve been lucky enough to still work, New York City – I can only say it – was fun.
Plus, it was fun in a way that it may not have been since I was a kid in Brooklyn. It was fun on the street, in many parts of the city. While you may have gotten a train to a baseball game earlier on a summer night, or went into town to go to a restaurant or a show, local folks stayed and discovered new shops and restaurants within walking distance.
But New York is not just a local city, it’s a national one. New Yorkers worked hard to call the bank for the presidential election. We donated, wrote letters, and did everything we can to ensure Joe Biden’s victory.
It felt like a victory for New York City – our diversity and our valued immigrant population.
We took to the streets to celebrate.
That celebration was a bit short-lived as creeping fears about how far Trump and his allies would go to keep him in office had crept in. The “big lie” of a stolen election was committed by politicians from places like Texas and Florida – the places New Yorkers fled to had promised better alternatives to our local tech community.
Come to miami! Don’t worry about the coup attempt supported by our governor and senators!
Come to Austin!
Yeah, um, same deal, but worse.
Oh, and don’t mind our fully deregulated power grid, designed for paranoid fear of the national government and shameless prioritization of profits over people.
Good luck I have to move to a startup town in a state run by people who deny climate change, want to thwart democracy by suppressing voters, and that sees proper monitoring of vital infrastructure as too much of a financial burden to to deal with it.
It’s just another example of how the promise of being More Tech-minded doesn’t make me live in this place. If you hadn’t noticed – my industry …
Call me a more selfish, self-expanding ecosystem that is less confident and less concerned about the side effects of its actions.
Keep going i will wait
So I prefer to stay here in a community where technology is just part of a much larger ecosystem that is home to many different types of people.
I read Kathryn Garcia’s hopeful plan for the NYC Mayoral reopening. She has made plans for the problems we are facing right now – as opposed to those she would face as mayor.
In it, she writes about the potential of New York City that lies in the people who highlighted it:
“… What makes us New York has not disappeared. We are the city that never sleeps because of our “just-in-my-neighborhood” shops, the hole in the wall with the best ramen and our street performers and performers. The people who run our restaurants, theaters, salons, bodegas, dance clubs, gyms and museums – all that creative talent is still here. “
I love being in New York City because It’s not primarily a “Bitcoin and Crypto Hub” (which doesn’t even make sense because these things are all about decentralization).
I love being in New York City because I’m friends with an aviator, social worker, doulas, cooks, teachers, actors, professional triathletes, bankers, lawyers, rescue workers, and of course software developers.
I’m part of a not-for-profit kayaking program whose youngest volunteer on the committee is a black iron worker who first saw our activities in the East River, hanging by the Brooklyn Bridge, while at work.
She is more focused on starting her own construction business rather than the price of Bitcoin, and I love that life in New York City crosses our paths.
It’s a direct contrast to the Bay Area’s mono-industry – a tightly-knit network of influence, wealth, and power. I used to think it was exactly how it came together – just the nature of the beast of a cross-generational focus for business success.
However, in recent years it has become increasingly apparent that much of this network is simple it does not matter about the side effects of what it builds, or the uneven power structures it creates. When you’ve spent time in the clubhouse, that feels even more like a feature than a bug.
Kathryn Garcia’s reopening platform aims to “Help CUNY Students Become the Next Generation of NYC Entrepreneurs”.
This is the kind of entrepreneurial city I want to live in – a city specifically aimed at facilitating access for previously underrepresented and community underinvested people. I have no interest in moving to a place like Miami where masks and basic health protocols are on display amid a pandemic that disproportionately killed countless members of black and brown communities. I don’t care being part of a tech community that believes the path to creative tech solutions to the world’s biggest problems is to get some wealthy whites to move there because of the weather.
It takes a long time to build a truly thriving, world-class entrepreneurial tech community. Union Square Ventures launched its first fund in NYC in 2004 and it wouldn’t go public for that fund, Etsy, until 2015. The largest tech IPO in New York, Datadog, happened four years later, and companies like MongoDB came between.
In other words, not only are we just getting started, but we are also focused on creating an inclusive, accessible business community. While Miami’s mayor wants their city to invest in crypto, mayor hopefuls like Kathryn Garcia want to take out microcredit for small businesses.
Real New Yorkers realize that the city needs anyone to be successful in making this plan work – and I’m excited to see what our collective exhalations will bring to NYC after vaccination.
Our vaccination efforts are currently leading the way nationwide. Those who left New York City are now lamenting the fact that if many people had stayed in NYC, they would have had access to vaccines sooner.
Imagine what a spring and summer full of outdoor New York City activity will look like coupled with a measured return on shows, movies, and sporting events. I think we’re going to find a way to bring Broadway outside this summer – imagine you had AND beaches in the same city.
This is going to be a hell of a party – and yet, as we’ve seen last year, still a responsible, safe one. We can do both.
Imagine what it feels like to get on the subway to take part in outdoor tech conversations in different parts of the city and to collaborate with colleagues and tech friends. You may never want to go to the office five days a week again, but I know that after work you want to be with interesting people. That’s not exactly what to do on a whim when you’re in a cabin in the woods.
Imagine not only having fun with friends and neighbors, but also building your business with the goal of taking care of them.
The last five deals I’ve seriously considered investing in from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, three of which I’ve pledged, are healthcare deals, all of which expand access in some way. These are the types of businesses you get when you have a startup base that looks more like a CUNY classroom than a Silicon Valley “Mafia”.
New York City is the only place in the country that can claim to have an accessible, diverse community of founders, a government built on the intent to care for the collective (where we can get so much better) , multi-billion dollar domestic public companies, a world-class cultural scene, and transportation infrastructure that scales so well that you can get where you want to go any time of the day and live in a multitude of different neighborhoods without the feeling of being have to be off the net – not to mention access to skiing and the beach (at the appropriate time of year).
Long New York City.
Long New York entrepreneurs, big and small.
There is still much to be done, but there is no other place in the world that is worth making this effort with higher potential and a better talent base.