East vs West or Sub-urban vs Urban?

Over the past few years in my interactions with my friends who reside on the west coast of the US, I have wondered at some things. Not sure if it is just the US or it is equally true of urban vs suburban living worldwide. It may sound stereotypical or way too general but here are my thoughts for what they are worth.

Awareness about ecological footprint, going green, buying organic, buying local etc tends to run rampant among west-coasters. On the other hand, I see little evidence of it in my local circle here. Even if my friends here have strong views about these things, I hardly hear about it. Same thing with Walmart bashing. I label it Walmart bashing as I personally like Walmart. I have heard about their hiring practices, their working hours, their benefits etc. Yet, I believe they are picked apart more often because they are huge and they are successful. Again, these are just my views.

I noticed it again with hybrid cars. Long before I even heard there exists a thing like a hybrid car, family I know in the west coast had been using it for a year. Cloth diapers, returning to a more simplistic way of life. All of it seems to happen along the west coast before the east catches on.

So, what do you think? Is is a west coast thing or something different?

8 comments

  1. well, i have heard in the work circles that people in the east coast work harder and longer compared to their peers in the west coast. It should be the other way around, because the weather is great in the west coast, but thats what I heard as regards the work culture. I thought buying organic and going green has caught up everywhere, as you can see the proliferation and popularity of whole foods and traders joes everywhere. I am not sure of any other differences….hope to hear more from other commentors on this interesting topic.

  2. Laksh,
    “Grass and People are always Greener on the other side”.
    I Agree with Naan, that Green concept is catching up everywhere. I believe you are influenced by your West coast friends, since they might work in either Bay area or Seatle or Portland. I know for sure that people working in tech industries are a bit greener(as green as Hulk) than us in east coast,working for the old finacial gaints. Reason being that these companies offer incentives to go Green (Google,gives 5K for Hybrid along with Solar powerd roof panels to charge extra batteries. http://www.google.org/recharge.Also, cities like Seattle are newer compared to east coast and they planned their cities with good bike routes etc..I would prefer east coast than west coast (sincerely wanting to aviod California – Earth Quake is not the only reason).

    My only concern on your posting is that your liking of Walmart.I believe Walmart is not targeted b’coz of it’s size, but it’s unethical/immoral behavior. Few examples 1. Walmart Vs Lancaster county case 2. Walmart’s opposition to unionized Labor (i am not going to argue the pros and cons of unions here) . Walmart even warned their employees (ofcourse indirectly) not to vote to Obama, since he supports unions (google it in the news).

  3. I don’t find east coasters any less environmentally conscious than their counterparts in west coast. If at all anything, I find there is more talk and less action on the environment front everywhere, that seems to be the fashionable thing to do.

    One could write pages after pages about the good and bad of Wal-Mart. Like or hate the company, we need to acknowledge that the store plays a significant role in driving the economy. My statement is purely anecdotal, and is not backed by statistics. Just ask around and see, how many companies have Wal-Mart as their customer, it’s simply mind boggling. They not only drive consumption, but generate secondary businesses, and the ripple effect has such a positive effect on the economy.

  4. Laksh,

    I went to grad school in Boston and then moved to California after wedding. I have family back east and often visit. There are so many differences between life style in the east coast versus west coast-

    1. Weather is the first major thing that makes you fall in love with the west coast, even though, you can’t see all 4 seasons, especially fall colors like in the east.

    2. Work Hours- People in the east coast get an early start to their day, whereas people start later here, was shocked when my hubby told me that he used to go to work at 10 am, which was the standard in companies here, when I used to be at work by 6:30 or 7 am in Boston.

    3. Dress- People in NY, MA etc. love to dress in black a lot, be it regular work outfit or formal occasions, whereas dressing is more casual and colorful here (again depends on the field you work in), some start-ups have a dress code of casual shorts and t-shirts w/ flip flops that u can never find in the east coast.

    4. Vegan, Vegetarian, Organic- west coast folks are more health conscious and outdoor types, unlike east coast folks who love their cheese and pastries.

    5. People- East coast people are sometimes very formal and keep to themselves, west coast folks are more open to lots of cultures here and tend to talk more freely.

    Just a few of my observations..sorry for taking up so much space.

  5. Walmart bashing doesn’t happen because they are huge, but because they follow unethical business practices. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I would recommend you to watch this: http://www.walmartmovie.com/ And with regards to Walmart boosting economy, please watch this documentary and then, lets talk about it. This documentary goes into detail about how this giant is killing local mom and pop stores and ppl are left with no other option but to work for Walmart for way less money and how their insurance cover is bogus and heartless giant. Not sure if you have followed this news: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/25/walmart.insurance.battle/

    Anyway, wrt the East Coast – West Coast divide, I don’t think I am qualified to comment on it, as I have lived only in the West Coast. But what I do see here is that people are way more open to cuisines / culture and more relaxed. May be it is because of the diversity in demographics that you see here or because most of the companies here are startups / fairly new companies compared to the Wall-street giants of NYC.

    Village boy, Google is one of the only company (that I am aware of) that gives such incentives – many of my friends have hybrids without any incentives from the companies that they work for. It makes a lot of sense for two reasons:
    a) folks who got hybrid in 2005-06, got a carpool sticker, which lets them drive in the carpool lane
    b) with soaring gas prices and the commute being fairly longer in CA (and not to mention the almost absent public transport system), hybrid gives you good mileage and save some gas money.

    Sorry Laksh, for taking up too much of your comment space.

  6. AKay: I am not a big fan of Walmart either. I don’t shop at Walmart as much mainly because I don’t find the customer service all that enticing. I haven’t watched the documentary, but have followed the accusations against the company in bits and pieces. The other day a couple of friends got together at our house, and our discussion drifted to work with all three of us claiming that our companies have secured contracts with Walmart. I know atleast in my company, it has created employment opportunities. The purpose of my comment was to discuss the other side of the coin as well, play the devil’s advocate.

    Mitr: You have been in Boston area? I live in a Boston suburb and am in love with the place despite the weather 🙂

    Laksh: Thanks for the opportunity to have a stimulating discussion in your space.

  7. Well, we had this debate in the school group that we have…east vs west! How one prefers the other or why one should blah blah….
    I guess it will go on! 🙂
    I lived only in NJ-NY…being away from India, I loved to see the seasons change. Did not work, hence would not know much about work culture etc., If at all there is a place I want to live in,if given the choice; I would want to be in NYC or Boston 🙂
    About Wal-mart bashing…all has already been said 🙂 Just wanted to add that Big Bazaar & Reliance Fresh here face a problem, esp in communist states like Kerala and WB against them affecting the small businesses there -pretty much similar to Wal-mart don’t ya think? Don’t know about ethical things here…it is India and labour is labour…rather labor is labour 😉

  8. @All: Thanks for the nice discussion. I agree with all of you in varying degrees but I think Suman captures the essence of what I wanted to say very well. I take back my view on environ consciousness being less on the east.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.