by Callie Enlow
Name: Andi Rodriguez
Occupation: Urban Planner
Years lived there: 1 (have worked downtown for 10 years)
Why did you choose that neighborhood?:
Moving here from downtown Chicago, I missed a rich, dense experience that only an urban core can offer. Sometimes life feels as if it were encased in plastic; living here, running into friends, riding my bike and eating outside allows me to experience my community in raw form ... to really feel it. I first felt the thrill of city lights when I was seven; I knew at that moment that no matter where I moved, it would be downtown. It may sound silly, but being downtown fills my heart with joy. Urban cores are messy, sharing public sidewalks, parks, transit, smaller spaces ... it's not a manicured, gated neighborhood. I like to think that downtown promotes sharing; it binds us together, ultimately changes social context and helps us realize we have more in common than we thought.
Say your close friend or family was visiting your neighborhood for the first time, where would you be sure to take them and why?:
How can I choose? I'm enamored with the center city and its myriad of historical buildings currently being repurposed into coolness. I'm mad about Southtown's vibrancy, culinary offerings and urban aesthetic. Being an art addict, Southwest School of Art is my urban oasis. (historic chapel meets repurposed tire store cultivating a community appetite for art! Cha-ching!) However, my 'can't miss' pick is Hemisfair. While it's history is extraordinary, it's the vision that blows me away. I often take visitors to tour its grounds and explain how the green space will be increased, where wine and coffee bars may reside, where people will soon be living and working ... breathing new life into this public space will be a gift to everyone in our city.