From CBGB to Community Editor

Colin MoynihanColin Moynihan.

Although I was born in Manhattan my first trips to the East Village came as a teenager in the 1980’s when I traveled to the Bowery – CBGB! – and to St. Marks Place, where I spent hours in used record stores and book stores.

Later, in the early half of the 1990’s, I moved to Suffolk Street, a few blocks below what is generally considered the southern end of the East Village, although I always tended to consider the territory above East Houston Street to be the northern zone of the Lower East Side. (There will be more, in future posts, on the nature of geography and labeling of neighborhoods.)  I have lived just south of Houston since then, but my travels and my interests have always extended beyond that borderline.

In the late 1990’s I began writing newspaper stories about the area and it was then that I began to see events not so much in terms of what they meant to me but in terms of how they affected others and how they fit into a historical or cultural context.  Some of my first stories were about local landmarks, squats, the struggles surrounding the future of the Charas / El Bohio community center, the community gardens – during both celebratory moments and times of tension – and the nearly ceaseless battles over real estate and development that have shaped so much of the recent history of the East Village and continue to do so today.  (More, also, in future posts, on that.)

Over the last eight years, I have reported and written more and more about the world beyond the East Village.  But I have never stopped roaming the neighborhood, talking with people and paying attention to what is going on there.

I have also continued to write about the East Village: The departure of a market, a cafe, or a large, eccentric piece of public art; the possibility of privatizing public space; the troubles faced by a mainstay of the local landscape; the tradition of protest and debate; the death of a neighbor and existence as it is experienced on a certain stretch of Avenue A.  To me these are not just interesting stories.  They are narratives of vital concern to the people who cherish the neighborhood’s streets and parks and buildings and sense a connection to the other lives that are lived here. I know that I am not the only one who feels that kinship.

I’m fortunate to be able to start off in this job with the benefit of a solid base established by my predecessor, Kim Davis and the site’s chief editor, Richard G. Jones. (Kim and Rich, thank you.)  And I’m hoping to help continue making The Local a site where people go to read about –– and to write about –– the events and occurrences that make life in the East Village something worth caring about.

To all contributors: I look forward to working with you.  And to all members of the community: consider this an invitation to become a contributor.

Colin Moynihan is the community editor of The Local East Village. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to the site, please email him.