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When this small business owner and mom moved away, Bakersfield quickly pulled her back. See why Natalie loves this tight-knit community and what makes this town different from the rest.

Natalie Green • Owner at NYFotography

I was born and raised in Bakersfield, and I’m lucky to call this place my home. In high school, you want to go off and see the world, and I was fortunate enough to be able to do that, but this community has a way of bringing you back.

My husband and I were living in the Bay Area when I got pregnant with our first son, so we decided to relocate to Bakersfield, back to our hometown, because both of our families live here. We wanted a great place to raise our growing family and we wanted to be surrounded by all the comforts of home.

It’s nice to be in a place where everyone is gathering, talking, being together, celebrating our community, lifting each other up in a kind and compassionate way. Living in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, you don’t know your neighbors at all, you sometimes even avoid eye contact. But here, everyone treats each other with respect and our community has a true family feel.

This city is inspiring. People around here care about their neighbors and each other. You get to know people here—it’s not about things to do in Bakersfield, but more about the people you get to know and meet. This is the one place where the people you meet and the friendships you make are life-changing.

I feel fortunate to live in a neighborhood called Westchester, nestled in downtown. It’s a great feeling to live in a place where you know your neighbors, you know the baker on the corner who’s been there for 20 years, and you can walk in to a local Bakersfield restaurant and the people know your name. I think that holds a lot of value.

In other towns you have these neighborhoods where you pull into your garage, close it and don’t talk to anyone - that’s not what Westchester is. We’re a very involved community with friendly and kind people. In fact, we love our downtown community so much that we made a magazine out of it, which brings our neighborhood even closer together. The magazine turned out to be a great way to find out who our neighbors are and to take a break and see what’s happening within our own streets.

Professionally, I’m lucky to own and operate a photography business located downtown. I’ve always had a passion for photography, starting in the eighth grade at Tevis Junior High School. My dad bought me my first camera and I soon fell in love with seeing the world through a camera lens.

With only a couple months of planning after moving back home, we opened our business and with the support of this community we were able to make it successful. We came home and felt incredibly supported.

It was very important to me to open the studio downtown. There’s a lot of creativity flowing downtown, great movement currently going on, and a lot of people who appreciate and thrive off the arts. I love the new energy, all the new people moving into the neighborhood and into the town. There’s a lot of room for growth, for people with expertise and abilities to thrive. Relocating to Bakersfield was the best decision we could have made for our business and family. Bakersfield housing is affordable and job openings and plentiful. In other markets I think it would be hard to grow and network as easily as you can here.

When people think of this city, they think of oil and agriculture. We’re a lot more than that—Bakersfield is made of hospitals, teachers, small business owners, and families. There’s a lot that happens here that moves around the rest of the world. Bakersfield has a lot of businesses going worldwide that people rely on everyday to provide for their hundreds of thousands of employees and it all starts right here in Kern County.

The thing I’m most excited about for the future of our city is how many young professionals are coming together to make their own waves. There’s been a lot of groundwork established by people who really care about the community and wanting to move it forward. Now I feel like there’s this big push by local entrepreneurs, business owners, and young professionals to increase visibility nationwide, and to let people know the positive things happening here and how it affects the rest of the world.

Our food is on tables all across the nation—people couldn’t operate without Kern County. If you don’t live here, it’s hard to know how amazing this city really is.

We’re a town that cares about one another. Behind all this hard work are a lot of really great people that care about one another.

Be bold in Bakersfield.

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