Last residence: Sammamish, Wash., an eastern suburb of Seattle
Here since: Fall 2010
Bruce and Cindy Greenstein and their daughters, Kennedy and Kyla, had lived in a number of places, the result of Bruce’s rising career in health policy. When the opportunity emerged for Bruce to lead the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the family decided to say goodbye to Seattle and head for Baton Rouge. It was a chance for Bruce to perform pioneering work in a state rich in public health challenges. It also represented a family adventure in a new place.
“We’d lived in Seattle, Boston and D.C., but never the South,” recalls Cindy, also a public health professional. “We thought, Well, we haven’t done that yet. That sounds kind of cool. ”
The Greensteins immediately began exploring Baton Rouge and its environs and found the area deeply steeped in tradition, which had an appeal. The girls, both elementary students at University Lab School, got involved with activities and easily acclimated to their new home.
“With every move, we have gone in with an open mind—open to learn about the community and the culture,” says Cindy. “We told the children that people are so friendly in the South and it would be easy to make friends. It has turned out to be true.”
Baton Rouge revealed meaningful elements important to the Greensteins: namely, its family orientation and dedication to having a good time. They explored regional food festivals, recreational areas, and cultural events and found that Louisiana is a place that simply likes to have fun. The family has taken part in tailgating and LSU football, local sports camps and leagues, day trips to scenic sites and more. Mardi Gras stands out as a favorite family memory, says Cindy.
“It is so different than anything we have experienced before. The community parades in the Seattle area don’t have throws,” she says. “Maybe a couple of people will throw candy but never beads, stuffed animals, cups and footballs.”
A gluten-free household, the Greensteins have found a surprising number of resources and like-minded families in Baton Rouge. They love the lush produce at the Red Stick Farmers Market and the menu at Truly Free Bakery. Fellow gluten-free practitioners are always ready with advice and suggestions, and the medical community has been helpful, says Cindy.
At DHH, Bruce’s work has been about helping Louisiana secure its health care future. Cindy serves as the inaugural executive director of the Louisiana Food Bank Association, where she advances the cause of food banks around the state, spreading the message about how communities can get involved most effectively.
The Greensteins say Baton Rouge teems with welcoming people who are motivated by “having fun and just hanging out.”
“That really surprised us,” says Cindy. “The degree to which people seem to just want to relax and have a good time was refreshing.”
Something that surprised us: The degree to which people like to come together, whether it’s for civic functions like parades and fundraisers and athletic events, or events for churches and synagogues, or our night life. Baton Rouge is a happy place to be.
Culture clash: The recycling culture here is just beginning.It’s still acceptable to put a glass bottle or can in a garbage can.
Something Baton Rougeans take for granted: The quality of life. There’s a serious appreciation for fun and family time in Baton Rouge.