Bridging the gap
Photography by Jennifer Bodnar
Elise Ryan is a very rare hybrid of old school Southie and new Southie. Unable to define her as either lifelong resident or a yuppie, she is perfect marriage of both. Both her parents grew up here - her mother Melodie Owens from Linden Street and her father, Joseph Ryan from a few blocks away on F Street. In seventh grade, Elise moved to Weymouth with her mother. After a ten year hiatus, she moved backed to Southie after graduating from college along with an influx of young professionals moving into the neighborhood. Although her time in Weymouth ultimately shaped the person she is today, she considers Southie her hometown. "I guess I'm a local yuppie." Elise, along with a few friends helped organized a new social philanthropic group called Social Southie. A step in the right direction to help younger Southie residents be more involved and invested in the community. "It makes people happy to feel like they're a part of something. It feels good to help out, even if it's just a little bit.
Just the facts:
- Grew up on corner of East Fourth and Pacific Street
- Went to Gate of Heaven until sixth grade. She spent seventh and eighth grade at Sacred Heart in Weymouth then went onto Fontbonne Academy in Milton. She graduated from St. Anselm College.
- She's starting a new job as campaign manager at Nanigans - a Facebook marketing developer. "My background is in campaign management and marketing, I'm really excited to be starting out 2013 with a new and exciting opportunity!"
- She lives with her boyfriend, Jeremy and her dog, Drew
- She volunteers at Planet Southie helping with their newsletter and social media
- She also manages the Caught in Southie mailing list and newsletter
A few months back, Elise, along with a few friends, decided to start Social Southie . "The idea is pretty simple, get people to show up at a bar (which Southie has plenty of) and raise money for local Southie organizations." The underlying goal is to get young residents more involved in the community. " We figured there are a lot of people in Southie who want to get involved in the community, but maybe don't know how. This gives them an opportunity to show up and have some drinks and food with friends, learn about an organization they didn't know about and help raise money for it, and then maybe pursue helping that organization on their own if it interests them." Social Southie is ultimately helping to strengthen the fabric of our community by blending newer members in with lifelong residents. Their first official event happens on Tuesday, January 15th at the Boston Beer Garden and they will be raising money for Alliance for Animals.
Favorite place in Southie?
The Heights. It's where I played when I was growing up. I remember swinging on the rope swing behind Southie High and chasing my dog in the snow. I almost had my first kiss up there but I chickened out. I also "ran away" to the heights once for about 5 minutes when I was 8 years old...then I promptly ran back down Pacific street crying because the freedom (and my Mom's wrath) was too scary.
Favorite Restaurant in Southie?
I have two. The first is The Seapoint because I love pizza and beer - they have awesome pizza! The second is Shenanigan's because their food is consistently good. Every time I go there I know that no matter what I order, it's gonna be delicious.
No question, Murphy's Law.
Favorite part about living in Southie?
Well, it's where I grew up, so it's very familiar. I also like the proximity to the city, the walkability (I don't have a car), and the people keep it interesting.
Do you really and truly believe there is a war between locals and yuppies? Or just hype?
I think there's going to be drama in any community. We just have more of it because we're dealing with huge change in such a short amount of time. I don't lose sleep over the local/yuppie antics we face.
Would you define yourself as a yuppie or a local or both?
I'd define myself as a local yuppie. I mean, I am a young urban professional after all. My boyfriend Jeremy and I try to be involved as much as possible, we make an effort to get to know our neighbors and be a part of the community. When you put in that effort, it makes a huge difference.
Elise Ryan is putting herself out there. She is investing in a community that she proudly calls home. With her personal history and her altruistic nature, she is helping to bridge the gap between old school Southie and the new South Boston. Her addition of Social Southie might just contain the right ingredients in creating a new and interesting layer on top of an already strong foundation.