Ellen Gustafson is the creator of the30 Project and co-founder ofFEED Projects,an immensely popular bag whose profits are donated to the UN World Food Program. She joined StyleCaster and DKNY to tell her New York story.
How long have you lived in the city? Lived in NYC since 1998 (13 years!!), and grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Why do you choose to live in New York? I came to Columbia University for college, which was the only school I applied to, because I wanted the challenge of being a small fish in a big pond. I love the energy, the access and the people. And, of course, I LOVE the food!!!!
How differently do you now see New York compared to when you first got here? When I first moved into my dorm as a college freshman, I felt like this whole big intimidating expanse lay at my feet and I would inch slowly down the Upper West Side exploring one block at a time. Today, I feel like an experienced New Yorker, but still love to explore new neighborhoods and find new restaurant gems!
How did New York change? Having lived in NYC through the late-90s boom, 9/11, and the financial downturn, I’ve noticed that the best things about New York haven’t changed. The city and its people are resilient, there is always a new crop of young people moving in and exploring and there are always new fashion and food spots that innovate. I would say that in my 13 years, New York has become more “green”- there are more parks, like the completed Hudson River bikepath and the High Line, and a ton of green buildings!
Would you change New York? If so, how? I would continue to push the city to use its waterfront. I think one of the most underdeveloped areas of the city is all the awesome waterfront areas, even in Brooklyn and Queens, that are not yet flipped from industrial use to commercial or residential. I want some beaches and more waterfront dining!
Could you ever leave New York? Well, I will never lose my foot on the ground in NYC, although I will actually have to live in other places. I am recently engaged to a Naval Officer, so we will likely be stationed in other waterfront locales. BUT we have committed to always have an apartment in NYC where I can spend a good chunk of my time! That is VERY important to me!
Do you have a recent “only in New York” anecdote? A “normal” NYC day is to set up shop at my local organic fair-trade coffee shop and hold meetings with a major international NGO, a tech start-up and an old friend… because they are all in the city and just a subway ride away. That is something that only happens here!