When I was a little girl my mom bought her first apartment in Astoria, Queens. Astoria is a small yet diverse community right before the big city, New York City. Astoria is filled with many brick houses and buildings, it is not that colorful. There is so much shopping you can do here too. You can also grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants, and to burn it off you can go dancing at one of the many nightclubs. My house was located in a great red brick building with a brown metal door. There were eight other apartments alongside mine all different with distinct charms. The apartments were the same with the same amber brown hue painted on the doors, but the people inside them were what made them unique. When you smell spanakopita in the oven, arroz con condules on the stove, curried goat in the broiler, and penne al a vodka being sauteed, you know you have a diverse neighborhood. Living in that multicultural stew has taught me many things (aside from learning how to say “hello” in six different languages). One thing my neighborhood has taught me was that a neighborhood is not just the brick buildings aligning a one way street, or a row of houses each with a clean cut lawn, it is your neighbors who are the main ingredients in that stew. Each and every one of my neighbors had some type of experience or knowledge to share with me; most of them being immigrants and coming to America to seek better lives. I never knew I can relate to someone who was not the same skin color as me, or who did not speak the same language, but I was in for a surprise. Asking my neighbor for some sugar and realizing it was the same sugar I used at home, was a startling experience for a young girl who believed her culture was worlds away from another.
This blog is intended to be an international conversation about our neighborhoods. What makes a neighborhood? How are we defined by the places where we once lived, where we live now? What would others see if they had a glimpse of our neighborhoods? At the State University of New York at Fredonia, we started to ask ourselves these questions, and we wanted to post our descriptions and invite others to do the same. We are hoping for an album of neighborhood images and descriptions--and plenty of opportunities for questions, dialogues, and musing.