For a while now, I've heard a lot of people say words like hipster and mixologist with the same derisive tone and attitude as they would say douchebag. Sometimes I find it amusing but most of the time, I think how sad it is that people are tearing each other apart. Openly judging people for their fashion choices – tight, skinny jeans, flat-billed ball caps, vests, mustaches – and peering snottily down their noses while muttering, "fucking hipsters."
When I moved to Kansas City from Portland, Oregon over twenty years ago, Portland wasn't the hipster town it is now. And Kansas City was even more foreign to the movement. I would drive around with my parents and not see buses or people walking around and wonder what the hell town we moved to that didn't have public transportation or even just people outside. After a while, I blamed the weather. The weather is just too severe and temperamental for regular outdoor activity. I acclimated and became one of the indoor people.
But during the last five years or so, I've noticed a big change. It happened so gradually that it took a long time to register, but people are moving outwards again. They're walking, taking the bus, exercising, and it doesn't matter what the weather is like. Rain or shine, snow storm or heat wave. It's a shift that I see everywhere from downtown, to midtown to Mission, Kansas and neighborhoods beyond.
I am sure there are a lot of factors that have changed the culture and environment of our city. But I think part of this change is due to all the hipsters (or whatever you call them), the vibrant and passionate people who, with their friends and ideas are making our city an innovative, interactive, fun place to live and a exciting place to show our friends when they come visit.
They are just regular people who are making their dreams a part of our world. They are the people who show up to work everyday to make our day, whether it's with a cocktail, a cup of coffee, an article to read, inspiring art, or beautiful jewelry and clothes to wear, enjoyable. They are chefs who are making farm fresh produce a regular part of our dining experiences again. They are opening businesses in lackluster neighborhoods and revitalizing them. They are servers who write and spotlight the industry they work in. They are bartenders elevating their craft. Some work away with no fanfare and others bring us national attention. All of it makes our city thrive. That is something to be applauded.
They are our friends and our peers. So stop squabbling over labels. Stop propping people up and then viciously tearing them down. Look past the outside stuff and listen to what they're saying and see all the awesome things they're doing. Kansas City is full of beautiful and amazing people. Progressive, talented, hard-working, special people who are changing our city for the good.
Just take a look below. So, so many great people who make me love this town. And so many more that I have yet to meet.