Erica Berger: New York City

What’s your historical connection to Los Angeles and New York?
Growing up in Chicago, I had family living in Palm Springs, and ended up going to marine biology camp on Catalina Island in my teens. When the time for college came around, I fell in love with USC and decided to give LA a try. I spent my extra free time exploring different neighborhoods in LA (especially when I needed a break from school). Summer between my junior and senior year of college, I interned in NYC and fell in love with Williamsburg, which reminded me of Silver Lake.  I moved to Brooklyn 6 months after I graduated and haven’t looked back, especially since my mom moved to LA in 2010 and I get to go home there. I started this newsletter to keep my and my friends and client’s fingers on the pulse (both for business and for fun) of my 2 favorite cities.

Describe your experience in NYC (or LA).
What do I love about New York? The people and the setting in which I get to live with them.  I love being able to think about what person I want to hang out and then about new things in their neighborhood we want to explore.  I’m a very spatially oriented person.  I feel the same way about LA, but LA is so wonderful because I’m much more holistically relaxed there–the sunshine, the availability of healthy food and habits, the outdoors, and smiling strangers makes a real difference. But I couldn’t pick one over the other if someone made me.  I’m happy in Brooklyn at the moment though.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from LA to NYC?
Wardrobe. It was great to get rid of my car, but having to buy warm clothes…oh, and leaving my friends of course.

How can NYC and LA engage with each other?

I think LA and NYC are unique in that many of the industries overlap (media, art, urban development), and that especially in tech, many startups are solving challenges for businesses in these industries.  Silicon Valley is great at coming up with new products and services and disrupting culture which is good for them, but LA and NYC are great at facilitating solutions to problems that have been rampant in the industries that power their economies.  Many of us are also creative types, so we have lots in common not only in business but in life preferences.  A large amount of my friends here in NYC have lived and/or would love to live in LA and vic versa.

Favorite LA secret spot
It’s a tie between Monterey Hills, which has some of the more amazing views of the city and is right near downtown (but hidden of sorts), and the Bradbury Building downtown, which has some really great architecture and history.

Favorite NYC secret spot
West street in Greenpoint, and the newly updated Transmitter Park. The views of Manhattan are tremendous, and the park feels a bit rustic, raw, and wild.

If you were not at Storyful, what would you be doing?
I joined Storyful to continue help shaping the future of the news industry, while also helping companies like Google and YouTube better document issues like human rights and internet censorship. It was the combination of news and storytelling, an innovative startup and product, and a social good mission that drew me to the company. Whatever I do after Storyful still needs to have that storytelling, smart product and social good combination. I’d love to start my own project, or join another team that feels the same way about solving big challenges while also inspiring people and communities.

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
I grew up in Chicago, but I first came to San Francisco when I was 5. I distinctly remembered thinking how beautiful the architecture looked, thanks to the rolling hills and the views of the ocean. I actually think that visit to San Francisco was the first time I saw the ocean proper!

I went to college in LA at USC (although Berkeley came in a close second place), and I came up to SF a couple of times a year with friends. I loved how SF reminded me of a mix of the best parts of Chicago and LA.

I thought I would move to SF after college, but ended up falling in love with Brooklyn. I come to SF at least 4 times a year now, as I have clients and friends here. I would love to spend more time in SF, but New York has my heart at the moment. I’ve been living in Williamsburg for a little over 4 years, and it’s the perfect place to work in media and news. But I think getting out to San Francisco and keeping a finger on the tech pulse is really important. We can learn a lot from each other.

And hey–the Mission and Williamsburg (where I live), they feel very similar!

Describe your experiences in SF and NYC.
In NYC, I feel the constant pulse of the city. Most of the time, it energizes me to keep working, to keep playing, to do more, and to be more inspired. But it can also be overwhelming. And I always feel like I have to be taking advantage of the city; if I don’t make it to a museum for a special exhibit, or hit a unique restaurant, I’m not being a good New Yorker.

In SF, I feel a calm that I don’t have so much in New York. Although I still am working hard and meeting smart people, I’m a little more laid back. And the easy access to the outdoors just makes life a little bit more manageable.

What is the biggest challenge in splitting time or spending time in both NYC and SF?
I think it’s really hard to leave San Francisco. When I come to visit, I get swept up in the plethora of technology companies and technologists, mixed with folks working in urban planning, music, and the arts. And it feels a little like Brooklyn, so I feel I adapt to the city pretty rapidly.

But it’s always hard to imagine not living in New York. I’ve done well career-wise there over the last few years, and really adore my friends and colleagues. I feel like the city is brimming with opportunities, and it keeps me working hard and optimistic about the world around me.

That being said, I have a strong support system in both cities, and would like to spend more time in California in general. I think the hardest part about splitting time, or spending time in both places is just the time zone difference

How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
Both cities are filled to the brim with smart people. I think SF can learn a lot from how NYC has engaged its community in the last decade to make the city a better place.

Whether or not you feel polarized about the recent press highlighting SF’s economic inequalities, the point is something needs to be done. NYC has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, by leaning on technology through groups like NYC Beta, the relaunch of, and through city-wide hackathons. SF should do this too.

Also, I’ll echo the idea that NYC could learn how to chill out a bit more like SF. And NYC folks need to get outdoors more! Upstate is beautiful, and although it’s not as easy to get to the mountains as it is in NorCal, its definitely doable.

Favorite SF secret spot
By far, my favorite outdoor spot in the city is Land’s End. And my favorite spot to grab a coffee and stare at the Bay Bridge is Blue Bottle at the Ferry Building. 

Favorite NYC secret spot
My favorite restaurant is Allswell in Williamsburg. It was an old Polish diner turned into a neighborhood local food joint. They have great drinks and a menu that’s constantly changing.

My coffee go to is Blue Bottle’s East Coast roasting plant in Williamsburg. It’s on Berry Street, off the din of Bedford Avenue, and has beautiful light in the morning.

And my favorite secret transportation hack in NYC has to be the East River Ferry. Take this boat, it will change your perspective of the city! And how perfect is their slogan: “Relax, We’ll Get You There.”

If you were not consulting and writing freelance, what would you be doing?
I was thinking about this the other day. If I didn’t work for myself and work in news and editorial strategy, I think I’d like to work in film, telling longer form stories, especially about environmental issues. Obviously, I have a passion for media. But I miss the creative side of storytelling, which definitely can happen in news and in tech, but not as explicitly as it does in film. Right after college, I worked on a film called Fuel. It was crazy, but I learned a lot and loved the experience.

If I were a completely different person, I think I could have been into theoretical physics, or into ocean exploration. Ask me about that in person sometime.

Roadtrip Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Right now, I’m super into Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Betty Who, The Preatures, Lorde, and RAC. I use Spotify, Soundcloud, and Songza for listening and discovering music. I used to edit an indie music newsletter, and man, if these services had been around back then…

I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I am really excited about the second season of House of Cards!

From the 2905 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + SAN FRANCISCO

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