Words & Photography Kirk Truman
“One of the great things about my job is that I have to know and understand what is new and cool in an area. For me, my work life and living in Fitzrovia complement each other perfectly.”
A place: a home. That restaurant: that vile graffiti sat on the wall. The square: the rattling of Euston Road and the roars of Oxford Street. From coffee shop to coffee shop and bar to bar, this young lady knows just what is defining of Fitzrovia, what makes it a place to be. Indeed, I have met my match in this youthful, cheery character whom delights in calling Fitzrovia her home. Google’s community manager, Katie Glass explains how she came to settle here in our neighbourhood.
It was just an ordinary day in 1987, but then, amid the mounting traffic of the Hammersmith flyover, went Katie’s parents racing with a police escort to the hospital. Having gotten stuck in traffic, her father managed to catch the attention of a police car to escort him and mother-in-labour to hospital. Though she was born in London, Katie was not raised in the city. She grew up in the beautiful ideal setting of Bath, surrounded by masses of farm land, greenery and of course sheep.
Both of her parents being Londoners, throughout her life Katie had always felt that she was a city girl at heart. She wanted to live in the city and decided to take the step of becoming a Londoner in the footsteps of her parents and begin studying in the city. She first began studying Philosophy at UCL, leaving the course in less than a year of starting it. She made the decision to begin studying at King’s College instead, where she read English. During this time, Katie began to familiarise herself with the West-End and the surrounding neighbourhoods to which she instantly felt connected with.
She moved various times when first settling into the city and has lived in various different places, from Stoke Newington to Old Street, and even Marylebone. At one stage she found herself living in the shadow of her mother’s past in Islington. Her parents are property renovators – “not developers!” as she would put it. They share a passion for the creative process of renovating buildings, something which has filtered through to her.
Katie finds herself fascinated with innovation and exploring her own imagination. From history to architecture and design – she often actively and inactively seeks to uncover the answers behind matters, especially now living in our neighbourhood. Katie eventually found home right here in Fitzrovia via a close friend who miraculously decrypted a Chinese notice for a vacant flat on Windmill Street, soon to become her shared home.
Living in our neighbourhood instantly began to have an effect of Katie, who tells me that, “inner-city living means that my routine isn’t broken up. I hated taking the tube to work when living in different parts of the city. I walk to work now; my home life and my day job are completely interconnected.” Following university, she worked in various different roles until she found herself a freelance job working at AKQA on their Nike account. Whilst there, Katie began interviewing for various new roles until she found a role at Google. With numerous locations all over the city, Katie mostly works in the Victoria offices of the company (though she also spends time at the offices just off Tottenham Court Road and Seven Dials). “One of the great things about my job is that I have to know and understand what is new and cool in an area. For me, my work life and living in Fitzrovia complement each other perfectly.” Glass explains.
Her role with Google in community management uses her gift to be interested in knowing and understanding areas particularly well – hence she is just about as culture and lifestyle orientated as they come. I find myself baffled mid-conversation with Katie to find that she can quite easily interpret a particular bar, restaurant or social hangout on the basis of very little: particularly in the case of Fitzrovia which, to my annoyance, she knows alarmingly well. Nonetheless, Katie has exceptionally good taste and frequently uses her social media platforms to document her endeavours throughout London, the UK and beyond.
Her role with Google is a balance between marketing and community management. This entails working alongside Google City Experts and, in looking after a community, taking care of the social channels that are local to an area, such as Google Local London, via various social media platforms. Alongside her online role, she also organises events for members of Google City Experts throughout the country. As she would put it, these events involve ensuring that members are taken to the coolest locations without fail. “I guess living here I can’t help but build my home into my work. Even a few events that we have arranged have been in Fitzrovia. Not so long ago we organised a visit to the BT Tower. During the event somebody from BT stood up to talk about the tower, we also had photography lessons being given.” She explains to me.
Today Katie lives on Great Portland Street and is occasionally fortunate enough to work from her local restaurants and coffee shops in the area. Katie is defining of what it means to be actively living in Fitzrovia. An example of young people living in the neighbourhood, she is one of the new breed, if you will. Her fascination for the area is evident; her passion is undying and only grows. There is a journalistic way about Katie in how she leads her life here. “I always try and distinguish how much of my behaviour is based on because I’m generally interested in something and how much of it is driven because of my work.” She laughs to me. “My Dad, being self-employed, would always say to me, ‘don’t try to fit yourself to a job. Try to find a job that fits you.’” And, to that, she truly has. For Katie, Fitzrovia feels concealed from the rest of London. Like myself, she still feels that slight shivering feeling when meeting people in the city who do not know the area of Fitzrovia, despite how central in the city it is.