A recent surge of young and hip newcomers being called “hipsters” has Somerville residents up in arms, but why? According to a Boston Globe article by Beth Teitell, the mysterious species can be summed up as “skinny pant wearing tattooed 20/30-somethings that partake in activities like chicken raising, bike riding, suit-vest wearing and microbrew-ing, all with a “more-ironic-than-thou attitude”. These stereotypes are superficial and harmful to the fabric of our community. While the majority of the mocking is done in jest, the unspoken bitterness between newcomers and old-timers is apparent.
For the past few months, multiple articles have been published referring to the “hipster” migration into Somerville as a crisis, and a cause for concern. The Somerville Times’ William C. Shelton addresses his concerns in his article “Dear, Hipster.”, An open letter to newcomers that modestly pleads for the new arrivals to commit to our community. He describes the hipsters as people who “…maintain [their] hair, prefer music and films, embrace philosophies [and] engage in modes of discourse…” While the majority of the article is spent giving a thoughtful history to the undoubtedly curious arrivals, Shelton uses a tone that reflects the majority of the negative feelings residents harbor towards them. The pleading insinuates that the newcomers are not inclined to help the community or be productive. He requests that the hipsters help to reweave the fabric of the community and that they “be themselves”, a difficult task in a city where the majority of the residents spend their days condemning you for the way you look.
The notion that our hipster friends need to be asked to help out in the community, (as if they are known for being unhelpful and rebellious) is a gross, biased and uneducated generalization.
This generalizing is not good for our wellbeing as a community. Instead of focusing on how different these people are from us, or how eccentric they dress, or how organic their diets are, Somerville needs to focus on integrating them into the community. They are not strange creatures. They are Somerville residents like the rest of us.
The entire situation has become about how they look, and what they do for fun. I wear skinny jeans. I wear flannel. I prefer organic and locally grown food. Am I a “hipster?”
The emphasis on their lifestyle choices and irony levels are irrelevant.
There is no crisis, there is no problem that needs to be fixed.
There is no need to write letters begging them to help out in our community, because if anything the new comers are doing more and working harder to make our city thrive than the people complaining about them.
This isn’t about what they do or how they dress, but what they represent. To the old timers in the city, they represent the fear that comes with the realization that the city is changing. In reality, they are nothing more than new faces in our big little city.
– Joey Del Ponte