One day few years ago, Mark Hiney and his wife, Kari Browne, were driving their son Mateo from their apartment in Park Slope to an appointment on Flatbush Avenue. Heading up Caton, where the traffic was backed up, they turned off onto a side street to avoid it, and saw our area for the first time.
“We wondered where we’d ended up,” Mark said. “We were blown away. That same night, Kari got on Craigslist, found an apartment that had just been listed for rent, and we went and had a look at the place. More or less in a week we had moved here.”
They had already moved a few times since they first came to New York City, and each time, Mark says he thought he’d found the perfect place.
“We moved to the East Village,” he explained, “and I said, ‘Well this is it, I’m not moving, this is great. Why would you move anywhere else?’” And that was the same thing he said about each apartment they moved to, from the East Village to DUMBO to Park Slope.
“When we got here and I said that, I finally meant it,” Mark said. “Hopefully that’s it–we can say we live here now.”
For Mark to be as in love with a neighborhood as he is with Ditmas Park is no small feat. As a world-travelling cameraman who grew up in Australia, he’s seen quite a few cities and towns. After high school, deferring plans to become a geography and physical education teacher, he got a job at a local television station in the city of Orange, which is near his parents’ home and about four hours outside of Sydney. What he learned working on the news at the job was the allure of the constantly changing work environment.
“I liked being outside, being out and about,” he said. “If something was happening, even in that small town, you’d be there to cover it. You become a part of it.”
That passion for the unexpected fuels his work to this day with Thirsty Paddock Productions, his company whose name comes from a line in the Dorothea Mackellar poem, “My Country.”
“Still to this day, and it will continue until I finish, every day is different,” Mark explained. “I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, which is a wonder of the job.”
That varied work has taken him to every corner of the globe, living in places like Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., to filming everywhere from Indonesia to Rawanda to North Korea. He’s seen so much, but he says he’s happy to finally lay down some roots and call Brooklyn home.
“What makes me appreciate this neighborhood is having lived in all these other places, having seen the poverty and hardship,” Mark said. “I’m thankful for every meal, for every good cup of coffee. For the life we have.”
He’s able to enjoy it all from his favorite corner of Argyle and Cortelyou, near where he lives with his family, which recently welcomed a second baby to the mix. They can see the corner from their porch, and Mark says it’s the best view in the neighborhood.
“There are always kids laughing, which is one of the best sounds in the world. Occasionally you hear a good cry or a scream,” he laughed, “but you filter that out and just hear the kids laugh, and you watch the world go by on the corner with a cup of tea out front. So we’re very lucky. We’re still pinching ourselves.”