And it’s just like Dallas’s overall bad reputation. Everyone keeps telling me: We’re stuck up.
When I started writing hyper-local news about Oak Cliff less than two years ago, most people still were complaining about our bad reputation for high crime, random gunfire and bad schools.
Now, with a little success and media attention come the haters.
Overheard this week: “I would love to get more involved with Oak Cliff, but I’m not cool enough. I live in East Dallas; they can smell me. They know I’m not one of them.”
And a friend recently said he doesn’t like hanging out in Oak Cliff because “it’s a bunch of 30-something hipsters with big egos.”
Says another friend: “Oak Cliff is too clique-y. Some people never get past high school.”
Ouch. My 30-something hipster ego is a little bruised.
Living in Oak Cliff is like living in a really small town full of artists, creative people, urban-planning nerds and daring community activists. It is cool, in my opinion, but it’s still a small town. You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone you know. Everyone knows your business. And they’re all judging you.
That’s life. I eat at Taco Bell. People wear flip-flops outside the pool. The lady down the street doesn’t pick up her dog crap. We judge each other. And sometimes, we gossip.
There are cliques, yes, groups of like-minded people who are friends, and often, colleagues. You’ll see them riding up single-file, a parade of well-dressed people on expensive bicycles.
Are they stuck up? I don’t know. They have inside jokes and projects they’re all working on together. They like the same things: bikes, organic food, all local everything, handmade stuff, art, bands I’ve never heard of. They have history, community.
There is a sense of exclusivity, but it’s not based on the car you drive, your net income or whether your kids got into the Greenhill School. It’s based on ideals, and people who share them generally are accepted. Those who don’t, generally, are not.
Just as driving my 1998 Honda Prelude is not acceptable in Uptown, say, shunning Oak Cliff public schools in favor of North Dallas private ones could raise eyebrows here.
It’s not perfect. No one wants to be the subject of gossip. Especially if it’s because they don’t make their own locally grown organic baby food, or whatever, but choosing a community is about fitting in. And I think people come to Oak Cliff, where real estate is cheap, because they’re drawn to the creative, urban, hipster culture.
I wouldn’t live here without it.