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How to Get Out of Hipsterville
Image: Luca Sartoni / Flickr.com

How to Get Out of Hipsterville

The value of knowing neighbors who don't drink the same coffee.

Growing up, one of my favorite verses was the one in Galatians that proclaimed, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." I loved its promise of equality, the flattening effect of Christianity, the ultimate democracy found in the person of Christ.

Now, 20-something years later and a small bit wiser, I find myself living in San Francisco, one of the cities with the highest level of income disparity in the country. I live in a neighborhood of young families flush with cash from the latest tech IPOs and of hipsters paying $2,000 a month to rent a studio with no dishwasher. My husband and I can walk to gorgeous coffee shops with counters made from reclaimed local wood and coffee beans as coddled as the infants being transported in climate-controlled strollers. The rise of the hipster has been well-documented—especially in the historically Latino Mission district—and has sent families scrambling in search of cheaper housing in different neighborhoods of San Francisco or out of the city altogether.

I wonder, as I walk myself to yoga or out for an afternoon tea, what my responsibility is now in a city where Galatians 3:28 looks like an impossible dream.

Unity in diversity is a nice idea, but until we who live in cities are willing to consider the question of who our neighbors really are, it will remain an idea. As San Francisco has become synonymous with hipsters and tech workers, it has lost the sense of diversity that made it what it is today. This is a city with so many neighborhoods and cultures—the historically Latino Mission District, The Richmond's influx of Asian immigrants—and I think we do a disservice to ourselves when we associate it with young (mostly) white people who listen to the same music and drink the same beer and are subject to the same trends. It is disconcertingly easy for me to live in the small world of my neighborhood, bound by the hip Valencia corridor and the fog cutoff line of Divisadero Street, and never venture to places in the city that aren't comfortable to me.


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Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Rick Dalbey

September 16, 2013  12:21am

I grew up in the SF Bay Area. My hipster friends in the 70s were computer programmers for corporations who worked at night and could afford the best marijuana and lived in cool houses. The 80s and 90s blossomed with wealthy hipsters. I saw friends make it big in fashion, music, retailing and the digital industry. The most disarming thing to a hipster is to find someone who is truly in love with Jesus. Perhaps someone like themselves. Someone who believes in the power of prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit. That is the way you minister to hipsters, they are desperate for reality. God loves hipsters.

Grady Walton

September 13, 2013  1:19pm

If you want to escape hipsterville, move to Deer Park, WA. But seriously, as a lifelong resident of Northern California, I’d like to share an observation: There has always been a version of the hipster class in California. Hipsterness is cool in some ways, but not others. For instance, the non-hipsters (which often includes the elderly, the less formally educated, or less cosmopolitan) frequently get left behind in the gentrification of their communities. Even the church seems to attract mostly hipsters these days. And yet, some of the most interesting, genuine, and informative people I know would not qualify as an official hipster. Go figure!


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