By the looks of her blog, you’d think that Petra Symister has lived in Bedford Stuyvesant (a Brooklyn neighborhood) for her whole life. The Bed-Stuy Blog is chalk full of goings-on in the worlds of real estate, culture, community events, community organizing, wellness, dining, and entrepreneurism. There’s an ongoing calendar of events so that any Bed-Stuyer has a bevy of activities to choose from. There’s no excuse to be a couch potato with Petra around.
Truth is, Petra moved to Bed-Stuy a mere 2.5 years ago. Originally from North Carolina, Petra came to Long Island in 1993 to earn a PhD in social health/psychology. In 1996, she moved to Chelsea and lived there for nine years. When it came time to buy a place, Petra chose Bedford Stuyvesant. She didn’t know a soul when she moved to Bed-Stuy, but starting her blog changed all that. Through writing her blog, Petra has accomplished something noteworthy: she’s created community and built friendships. Doing footwork for her blog forces Petra to go out and see what’s going on, to be more social, to go up to strangers and ask what they are doing. “I’m far more gregarious than I would be on my own,” shares Petra. Evidently, it’s easier to approach people when she’s on one of her many missions to provide a service to the community by answering their questions about goings-on.
According to Petra, Bed-Stuy Blog was born out of a real need. As someone who got the scoop on events via Time Out New York or online, Petra observed a hole in terms of information available online and just in general about Bed-Stuy activities. “The world is online,” observes Petra, “and if you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Inspired by other neighborhood-based blogs such as Clinton Hill Blog and Brownstoner, she decided to start one for her own place of residence. The outcome has been amazing: for starters, Petra has a huge following of readers. There are even folks who have said that they moved to Bed-Stuy because of what they saw on her blog. In addition, some of New York’s major magazines regularly link to Petra’s blog on the internet.
One of the aspects of Petra’s blog that keeps people coming back for more is the way that she makes it genuinely interactive: she asks probing questions and people state their opinions right underneath her posts. She asked, for example, why Fresh Direct doesn't service the Bed-Stuy population. Lots of readers responded to that piece. More recently, she inquired about the lack of holiday decorations in her neighborhood and plenty of people had plenty to say about that one.
And there’s more: Petra wrote about her neighborhood’s YMCA, featuring photos of people working out there. She posted a piece about an upcoming march against domestic violence. The bottom line is, Petra makes it easy for Bed-Stuyers to be up on current events and to get involved in their community in mind, body, and spirit.
Keep up the good work, Petra!