The Freedom in Being Ignored

By chance I ran across another eulogistic take on Brooklyn’s evolution today, this one from veteran residentDavid Wondrich, whose essay for Esquire’s March issue (not currently available online) charts the unexpected rise of the borough’s cultural influence and cites an important condition that made it possible.

There’s a freedom in being ignored. Away from the spotlight, Brooklyn developed something people want, and now they’re coming to take it away.

The freedom in being ignored — the idea that one can create something great by being allowed to experiment and fail and learn without the kind of scrutiny or expectations that surround places like Manhattan or London or Los Angeles — is a concept I’ve heard repeatedly over the last few months, but not in regard to Brooklyn.

We have this great opportunity; yeah, we’re in “flyover country,” but we’re this urban island and we’re so unadulturated and so wide-open that you can really be a part of something great here. It’s big enough that it matters nationally but also intimate enough that you can make a difference and be noticed for your contributions.

That’s Randy Vines discussing civic pride and economic opportunity in St. Louis on the January 17, 2013 episode of Stay Tuned STL.

I’m often frustrated by the inclination some have to judge St. Louis (or any metropolitan area) by comparing it to other cities. In doing so it’s too easy to miss the facets that ultimately give a place like Brooklyn its notoriety. But as St. Louis struggles to reassert itself both to its own citizens and to an increasingly indifferent world at large, there is value in being overlooked. With the freedom afforded by being ignored, the right mix of authenticity and aspiration can make “Brooklyn” happen anywhere. Maybe even here.