Tenth entry in my simple mission to find out more about my neighbors and neighborhood. I plan to ask the same questions to artists, craftspeople, musicians and local business owners. This week we delve into the mind of Karri Peifer a land of snarky Tweets, rootballs, harassing of weathermen, Flag Day advocate, and more than a little bit of wine.
I sent Karri the standard 5 questions and below is the completely unedited response.
First off, I’m so sorry it was so difficult to nail me down to do an “Ask a Hills and Heighter.” As a very busy (and quite possibly the most famous) Hills and Heighter, my schedule is always a challenge, but I am glad I was finally able to squeeze you in.
(Note: No one asked Karri Peifer to participate in “Ask a Hills and Heighter.” She, in fact, Twitter-stalked Richard Hayes until he finally agreed to let her do it.)
Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Reedy Creek?
I was born in Detroit, which I think is important as it gives me some sort of street cred, but in reality I was moved to Chesterfield when I was two and spent the next 10 years coming-of-preteen in Chesterfield. (#Southside!)
Since this is Richmond, I’ll insert high school districts: I lived in what was then Midlothian High School (now James River) district until I was 12, when I moved to what was then Clover Hill district (now Manchester), where I graduated.
When I was 19, I moved to what city-dwellers would call The Boulevard and my mother called the bowels of the ghetto where I learned an important renting-in-Richmond-in-the-mid-90s lesson: if you want your landlord to actually do something, like fix the locks on your door so crackheads stop breaking in, the 37th time you call you him / her you should mention that your next call is to the city and that you’ll be paying your rent in escrow until said landlord makes it so you no longer have to spend your Tuesdays spooning with a drug fiend.
I spent the next decade bouncing between The Fan and the Museum District and mocking the Southside and anyone who dared venture to it. Finally it was time to buy property and I was alarmed to discover that no one who rents in the Fan / Museum District can actually afford to buy in the Fan / Museum District. Not in 2005, anyway.
So I moved to Reedy Creek, which, technically (though Forest Hill and Woodland Heights-residents like to deny it) is the neighborhood that includes Crossroads. So there.
How would you describe your job?
To scoop Hills and Heights. It’s like a full-time thing.
I’m the editor of Richmond.com, which is one of those titles that encompasses everything – I write, I edit, I take pictures, I (am learning) to do video, I Tweet, I update calendar listings, I attend meetings, I put together the weekly Richmond.com print edition – oh, and as the food writer I have the thankless job of attending lots and lots of restaurant openings and events where I sample food and wine from the best / newest spots in Richmond. It’s the worst part of the job, really.
Oh, and I scoop Richard. Did I mention that? ALL. THE. TIME. Read Richmond.com first. Hills and Heights second. Always.
What other ventures/projects do you have going on?
Twitter-stalking Richard Hayes / @Hills&Heights … oh yeah, and looking for a plausible explanation for O’Toole’s recent weekend-valet initiative.
Favorite part of living on the Southbank?
Red-light running. For real; it’s my favorite. I’m sure it happens all over, but something happens south of the river (which I think has to do with population growth and the timing of the lights, which is awful), where “red” is more of a “guideline.” When proceeding through an intersection on Southside, you kind of kiss the roof and hope for the best.
It’s terrible, but I kind of love it.
I also love Southsiders’ commitment to Southside – to making it better, to supporting local businesses, to having and sharing Southside-pride – but it’s a distant second to watching someone shamelessly run a red light. A very distant second.
What would you change about Southbank?
Commercial tenants. I think this is Richmond in general, though. It seems like commercial property runs like 20 years behind residential shifts.
I live and work in my city (I work downtown) and yet if I want to stop on my way home and buy a vegetable (or anything not from a convenience store), I have to go miles and miles out of my way, practically into Chesterfield, just to pick up dinner.
It shouldn’t be like that.
When you look at the commercial growth in Hills and Heights, most of it seems to be happening up against the county line, in Stratford Hills. I imagine that’s so businesses can also draw from Bon Air (or commuters going anywhere in Chesterfield), but, again, I live and work in a capital city. I shouldn’t have to (practically) leave it to buy a tomato (except on Saturday mornings, of course!).
Advice to someone moving into the Southbank?
SmartTags. If you live here without a SmartTag (and use the Nickel Bridge), know you are hated. Oh, and proceed though intersections with extreme caution.
5 words to describe your neighborhood.
Diverse. I mean socioeconomically diverse. It’s one of the things I love about Reedy Creek. My block has renters, home owners, public housing – even a halfway house (is that public?). I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. I left the Museum District (my last apartment there) because I got priced out of it. My $600-a-month-all-ulitiles-included apartment went condo and sold for 200k. It was the third time in two years that happened to me.
I had to leave a neighborhood that was home for a decade because wealthier people had co-opted it.
I don’t want to see that happen here. I don’t think that’s what living in a city is supposed to be about. It shouldn’t be about Upper Middle Class people living next to slightly better or worse off other Upper Middle Class people. It should be about mixed use, and socioeconomically diverse-living.
I don’t know how we achieve it, but it’s how it should be.
Crap. I need four more words?
I guess it’s outdoorsy, as so many people seem to love cycling in that park, though in general I hate nature.
Kid-friendly (or maybe reproductively-enhanced?) – There are a lot of families in this area, which I think prospective (or existing) business owners should keep in mind. The majority of Southbankers seem to have kids and want to take them out and do things. Crossroads any time of day makes that clear, as does South of the James and Music in the Park. The degree to which people in this area want to go out and do things with their children is profound. I think if you’re going to open a business on Southside – any type of business – you’d better be prepared to be family-friendly. That’s what this area wants.
Drunken – Crossroads was always slammed, and then they added beer. Now it seems to be the go-to drinking spot south of the river. I’m not saying Southsiders are drunks, I’m just saying I’d like to get a table again … and for someone to put down the microbrew and notice that their child is playing in traffic.
Sugar-level Challenged? How else do you explain the dialysis center?