When I arrived at my Airbnb rental after flying all day from California, Terri, my host, offered me a beer. A cold beer sounded pretty good after a trying day of travel. So I sat down at the big kitchen table across from her and we began to chat. 

After a few minutes of friendly small talk, she asked if I was hungry. I said yes. She then served me made-from-scratch chili filled with organic vegetables. It was delicious. We continued to chat as I devoured the chili. I asked about her loft, how she designed the interior. She had done over 40 designs before committing to build, and she built it with help from friends. She explained that the purpose of the cabin inside the loft was to create a separate little getaway inside a big open space. She also shared some much appreciated restaurant tips. 

At this point, I was glowing from the warmth of her welcome. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, she offered me a homemade brownie for dessert! Terri's welcome pretty much set the tone for my stay in New York to attend Contactcon. I had a great time. This Airbnb rental saved us 50% off a downtown hotel – important for our little nonprofit.

And the cabin was a perfect retreat after each day of venturing into Manahattan. You can close it up completely to block out all the light. This creates a feeling of warmth and safety in a huge and sometimes overwhelming city. The cabin was definitely haimish, a Yiddish word I stumbled across in the New York Times recently meaning coziness and unpretentious conviviality. The cabin reflected an aethestic I observed in Terri's Brooklyn neighborhood at restaurants like Roberta's, where the studied lack of polish in the decor – the roughly carpentered interior and the handmade stools – leave space for you to belong and allow you to come as you are.

I felt good in the cabin, in Terri's loft, in Brooklyn, in New York, and by extension I felt good in the world and about my life. The trip left me uplifted and hopeful. Thank you Terri. Thank you Brooklyn. And thank you Airbnb for being a digital skeleton key that opens many doors in the real world. 

Neal Gorenflo


Neal Gorenflo | |

Neal Gorenflo is the co-founder and board president of Shareable, an award-winning nonprofit news, action network, and consultancy for the sharing transformation. An epiphany in 2004 inspired Neal to

Things I share: Time with friends and family, stories, laughs, books, tools, ideas, nature, resources, passions, my network.