Chris Proctor: New York City

What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
I knew I wanted to move to the Bay Area after my first visit. Growing up in puritan New England, San Francisco was a beacon of alternative culture and nonconformity. I loved that it attracted people from all over the world, and was a place full of new ideas. I moved to New York after living in the Bay for 4 years. I only thought I’d be in NYC for a year or two, but here I am, six years later.

Describe your experience in SF and your experience in NYC.
San Francisco’s proximity to the ocean and the mountains, plus the great weather, makes it an unrivaled place. I loved every minute in California. I was fascinated by the escapist mentality of the people who moved there. I seemed to meet people who had moved to the Bay Area to get away and start over, not in a bad way, just people who liked change. I think that mentality helped it in becoming a place of innovation. People there want to find new solutions, and think outside the box.

New York beats you up, but rewards you greatly if you’re patient. The sheer number of people you come in contact with makes it an easier place to network. We’re never in our apartments, so you’re constantly meeting new folks. New York attracts a lot of big personalities; you have to fight to be noticed. When I go back to San Francisco, I feel like I’m always being way too loud.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to SF?
New Yorkers don’t like to make eye contact; that was an adjustment. I do think New Yorkers are too busy for their own good. If I moved back to San Francisco, I’d really miss hot summer nights. New Yorkers complain about the heat, but there’s something so sultry to me about hot New York summers. Perhaps I spent too much time with @karlthefogduring San Francisco summers.

How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
San Francisco is having an identity crisis. Many of my artist and NGO friends are being financially pushed out. New York is no stranger to exceptionally expensive living costs, but it has found a way to remain an integrated city across all boroughs. We have the subway, New York’s great unifier; it makes all parts of the city easily accessible to everyone, at all times of day. San Francisco needs to figure out a comparable solution – Oakland and Berkeley will become the new hubs of art, culture and food. Right now, the different parts of the Bay are very separate.

Favorite SF secret spot
It’s no secret, but I love running to the top of Twin Peaks. You feel like you’re on top of the world. I was always able to clear my head up there. I never tired of looking out to the Pacific Ocean.

Favorite NYC secret spot
Times Square! Kidding. I love walking around the Sunnyside Garden district in Queens. It was developed in the mid 1920’s inspired by England’s Garden City movement. There are all these little alleyways between the beautiful buildings, so you can see people’s gardens and yards. The best part is the whole area feels like it’s underneath a tree. It feels like walking through a village in a forest. Queens in general I must say is an underrated borough. We’re the most diverse county in the United States, and have the food choices to reflect that.

If you were not at The Economist Intelligence Unit, what would you be doing?
I’d like to look at figuring out how to adapt crops to climate change. Whether that’s adjusting the farm structure itself, or changing the plants we grow. When I was doing an agricultural development project in El Salvador a couple of years ago, I talked to farmers who were experiencing the effects of climate change already. It got so hot that the corn cooked on the stalk, or didn’t grow kernels at all. I even see how vulnerable plants are in my urban garden in Astoria, the plants stop growing in the intense heat. For people living on the edge of poverty, uncertainty in the climate might mean going hungry. The rich world needs to take responsibility for this problem, and come up with solutions fast.

Roadtrip Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Lately I’ve been into Cambodian Psychedelic Rock from the 60s, Ros Serey Sothea and Sinn Sisamouth mostly. I’ve always liked Dengue Fever, so it’s been fun to get to know the music that inspired them. A good place to start is “Dengue Fever presents Electric Cambodia.”

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

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