Neighborly Neighbors: Rachel McLaughlin

Neighborly Neighbors: Rachel McLaughlin
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Rachel McLaughlin is a barista at Urban Vintage and future art student who enjoys spending time in Clinton Hill. (Photo by Amanda Woods)

Neighborly Neighbors is a series of posts in which we stop random people, ask them a few random questions, take their picture and post the results here.

Rachel McLaughlin
24 years old
We caught up with Rachel McLaughlin, who has worked at Urban Vintage – a café and vintage trinkets shop on Grand Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Clifton Place – for six months. She resides in Bushwick, but spends half her time living with her cousin, her closest family member, in Clinton Hill. She discussed with us what she likes most and least about the nabe, the patrons at Urban Vintage and her artwork.

What attracted you to work at Urban Vintage?

It’s so local to where I do live, and I like the neighborhood. It’s really beautiful. And I used to work in Carroll Gardens, and I think this neighborhood is different because there’s less children, and it seems a little more down-to-earth.

What do you like most about this neighborhood?

I really like the architecture and all the trees between here and Fort Greene. I just think it’s really aesthetically beautiful compared to a lot of other neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

What do you like most about working here?

I think the people are generally friendly, and I would say there is enough diversity that you don’t get bored.

Do you find that working at the café is a good way for you to get to know other local people?

Yeah, definitely. People that I may not have wanted to know before have really grown on me. You make a lot of assumptions in neighborhoods, especially when they become as gentrified as this one, specifically. You sort of assume that people aren’t working class, and maybe they might be a little more snobby, but I found that most of them are a lot more down-to-earth than I had previously thought.

It looks like a very diverse group of people visit Urban Vintage. In general, how would you describe the café’s patrons, in terms of the kinds of work they do, or their backgrounds?

I think it’s diverse. A lot of writers and artists, and pretty much anything you can do remotely on a computer, we probably have somebody that comes in and does it.

If you could change anything about this neighborhood, what would it be?

I would like to see them not go crazy with the rent, because it is growing so fast. I don’t want to see any of the people who have grown up here become displaced because the neighborhood outgrows them, and like the demand kind of kicks them out of their houses.

Are you in school right now?

I am going to start school in March.

What are you going to go for?

For art.

Where are you going to go?

In the CUNY system, probably Brooklyn College.

What kind of art do you make?

I’m a painter, and I do like digital rendering of collage work and video editing and stuff.

Do you think that this neighborhood is a good place for someone who is interested in art?

Yeah, absolutely.

Do you have any favorite artistic venues or museums in the neighborhood?

Yeah, I like to go to BAM, because I love the film there. And I can also walk to Brooklyn Museum from here pretty easily, or the Botanic Gardens – it’s sometimes very inspiring as well.

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