My name is Katelyn. I have two lives: one in media, and one in food. The food one is more exciting and fun. I run a supper club in the east village, which means that I run sort of an underground restaurant out of my house. I get to create a menu and bring in people who may or may not know each other to sit around and eat a four-course meal with me. We all talk about whatever we want, laugh, and sometimes argue, and have really wonderful conversation. We’re the Hungry Bunny, and I have a bunny that likes to visit with people. It’s really wonderful to bring together community around food, and that’s why I started it. People tend to reveal things about themselves without knowing it, and be less guarded, when they don’t really know each other. It’s a very different experience than sitting around and having a family dinner.
I think a community is a group that you feel safe with. It’s a place where you can be yourself, and feel safe and supported by those around you. My community isn’t geographic, my community is people who I’ve known for a long time. There’s a sense of wanting to be held with each other. We’re constantly supporting each other; they’re people who I want to share my life with in many different ways. I have this thing where I just tell people I want to be their friend when I meet them. I still do that, I just tell people “I like you. I want to be your friend. Let’s hang out.” That’s basically how I’ve built my community.
I went to the 14th Street Y trying to find a safe space to workout that wasn’t full of gearheads and fitness-heavy. What I ended up finding were all of these other “after-hours” programs, the weekend stuff, the bake sales, and other things I could get involved with that wasn’t related to my fitness regime. I love that aspect of it, but I really like knowing that there’s a place in my neighborhood to be with other people that’s outside of my box. I just love that I was in yoga class with a woman who seemed cool. We talked to each other about little things before and after. At some point I got an email from a woman wanting to join the Hungry Bunny newsletter, her name was Lisa and I thought “hmm, I wonder if that’s the woman from yoga class.” I asked if it was her and she said yes! I told her “we should be friends!” So now we are. She and I started doing wine-tasting and wine-pairing. I love having these little pockets of people that I love. I also love punk rope, and Tim and Shana. Punk Rope has been an East Village staple for 20 years. I see a massage therapist regularly who remembers when Punk Rope started, and who started working out with Tim like 25 years ago.
I love how cross-generational the 14th Street Y is. You don’t see that in other places. I also love that there’s not a lot of competition. I used to go to another place where you constantly compete for equipment, for swim lanes, for time. You don’t get any of that at the Y–sure, it can get crowded sometimes, but you don’t get that competitive feeling. You get the feeling that you’re all sort of there to share the same resources.
Portraits of the 14th Street Y is a photography project by Bridget Badore that tells the stories behind the many faces of the 14th Street Y community, including members, staff, teachers, trainers, artists, caregivers, families, and local business owners. Each year, the unique stories of more than 20,000 New Yorkers is woven into the fabric that makes the 14th Street Y a Downtown home for all.