Dannielle Melendez is a 27-year-old Albany native and the woman behind the “livinginalbanyny” Instagram account, where she chronicles her experiences discovering the wonders of her hometown.
Melendez works as an outreach specialist for a state trade association. She’s a graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and also holds an MBA from the College of St. Rose.
Melendez grew up in her grandparents’ two-family home in the city’s West Hill neighborhood, and now is a homeowner, landlord and resident of Pine Hills, where she lives with her partner of eight years.
CivMix recently conducted a short Q-and-A with Melendez after discovering – and following – her Instagram account. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing more of her work around here in the not too distant future. (NOTE: This interview has been lightly edited and consolidated for the sake of flow and grammar).
Q: Why, as a young person, did you decide to stay in Albany? There are so many “cool” places for a millennial like yourself to live.
A: I realize Albany is not a sexy place to live. Any other large city or trendy place would be much more ideal. My partner and I invested in Albany because it met everything we were looking for in a home and community at this time in our lives. Important characteristics that sold us about Albany:
1. High walkability.
2. High percentage of renters.
3. Public transportation.
4. Community engagement.
5. Opportunities to grow our careers.
Q: What motivated you to learn more about your hometown, and then post your experiences on social media?
A: Community engagement. It’s what I do for a career and in my everyday life. I genuinely enjoy connecting with people, working on community projects and having new experiences. In an effort to really engage with my new community, I wanted to create a space where I could document all the great things about living in Albany. I’ve found Instagram to be such a great platform to do that and incorporate some of my hobbies, such as photography and planning (bullet journaling).
Q: What’s the most interesting, unusual and/or surprising thing you’ve learned in your travels, or the place that you were surprised to have enjoyed as much as you did?
A: The most surprising thing to me about Albany is just how beautiful its green spaces are. I’ve never ventured outside Washington Park before, and the city does an amazing job of maintaining its parks, which is so important for the safety and quality of life for residents. One of my favorite activities since starting my social media account was going to the Lincoln Park Pool. Experiencing it for myself was a fun and relaxing summer activity, which was not expected at all.
Q: What’s on your “to do” list for the summer?
A: Watch a Park Playhouse musical. Visit the Washington Park farmer’s market. Go on a Capital Murals bike tour. (Editor’s note: Dannielle has accomplished this goal; look for a report on her experience soon). Have a housewarming party. Raise money for the Pine Hills Improvement Group Madison Avenue Park improvement project. President at the next CANA meeting. Explore a city I’ve never been to. Various home improvement projects (#adulting). Watch a movie in the park.
Q: Are you visiting other cities in the region, or mainly focusing on Albany?
A: While I love the Capital Region, I am trying to focus a lot of my energy on the city to really develop new relationships and to create a new lifestyle – all within walking distance or a bus ride.