Local Sprouts curator has spent a chunk of time living, working and exploring so many corners of the globe. When a kindred spirit crosses Katie’s path, it is always put down as fate. Having spent lots of time on the African continent, she has been classed as a misfit, based on a saying that Africa is for Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits. Being neither from a religious order or a fan of armed conflict, the latter was the most relavent category. Fate crossed AJ, another misfit, with Katie and here is his take on local, with lots of love for the East Village in NYC. Happy Trails!
LS: Who are you? What makes you tick?
AJ: My name is AJ and I nomad around the world and makes things happen. I used to be an unremarkably average finance guy in New York, until the day I decided to stop living some other dudes’ life. I am currently on a journey to travel around the world in 1,080 days. I am the author of The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit, I am run the coolest company in the world, and write about living with intention, doing work that matters and changing the world over at Pursuit of Everything.
LS: Where is your local community/neighbourhood and what do you love about it/how could you describe it?
AJ: Although I am currently traveling around the world, my neighborhood is in New York City’s East Village. The East Village, to me, is a perfect mixture of counter culture and creativity. It is, by far, my favorite place in the world.
LS: If you were showing someone from out of town around your local area, where would you take them?
AJ: First, I would take them down to The Bean to get a coffee and chat, then we’d walk over to Two Boots to grab a slice, head over to Tompkins Square Park to chill out in the grassy knoll, then go to Crif Dogs for a hot dog before going to catch an indie flick at CC Cinemas. We’d end the day across Houston Street at my favorite restaurant, Sauce. We’d sit at the bar, order the best meatballs in the world and wash them down with whatever local beer they had on tap.
LS: What does ‘local’ mean to you and your family?
AJ: Coming from a family of Cuban immigrants, Local has been polluted in a way, because my parents’ and grandparents’ idea of Local was taken from them in 1960. Growing up, I always heard stories reminiscing life in Cuba, which made me feel like my true Local, my people were in a distant country beyond the sea. Today, the term Local for me takes on a different connotation. Because I travel so much (I’ve traveled to 50 countries in the past five years), I make an effort to seek out Local wherever I plant myself for a while. For instance, I am in Charleston right now, there are plenty of Starbucks around, but of course, I research and sought to find a truly independent cafe run by locals. And here I sit, writing this from the lovely Black Tap Cafe, which just celebrated it’s first birthday yesterday!
LS: Hidden local gem?
AJ: So many in SO many places. I’ve listed and linked to several in the questions above. But I will add one more from my travels. If you ever go to Stratford-on-Avon in the UK (which I have called home for many months), you NEED to visit Box Brownie, probably the best cafe I have visited in the wide world.
LS: Local person, cultural or food experience Local Sprouts should seek out?
AJ: If you ever visit New York and find yourself in the Lower East Side, you must visit Sauce or any one of Frank’s restaurants. He is a true artist, a gift to the neighborhood, and has invested a great deal into making the Lower East Side and East Village a more delicious place.