Sunday, 15 December 2013

Make room in Tottenham

I've been living here for over 25years  - and watched as Tottenham became left behind whilst so many of the surrounding areas have become gentrified. 

And this isn't a blog about house prices. I don't care about that because I believe that a house is somewhere to live and be comfortable, not a financial investment. But I do care that over these years Tottenham has become ghetto-ised rather than gentrified. A downward spiral of smothering low aspirations and low opportunities in every respect - not just in terms of employment but also in political self-belief.

In the past couple of years things have started to change. Not without controversy, the local council, the mayor's office and Spurs FC have begun a process of 'regeneration'. And let's be clear this policy is about exploiting commercial opportunities and carrying through the 'ethnic cleansing' of the ConDem's austerity program that will drive the poor out of the inner city housing with benefit caps.

It's a local joke that we turned the corner when a run-down record shop that was a favourite hang-out for local youth for years was replaced with a branch of Costa Coffee. In fact that was quite a symbolic change. Good news for the incoming young middle class - not so good for the communities that are already here and fast being left behind.

But it doesn't have to be this way. This weekend I looked in at a tiny pop-up art gallery that has been operating out of a closed down Caribbean take-away. It's the work of a local project aptly called 'Make Room'. A friend of mine who is an art teacher at a local school arranged an exhibition there for some of his pupils' work. It gave them a voice to  put some  input into the changes that are happening around them - and to think of themselves as proper artists.

Of course Tottenham needs a damn site more than community arts projects - and the thought of turning the area into the new Hoxton sends a shudder down my spine. But praise where it's due: Thank fuck for projects like this - and for the commitment of people like my friend - it shows that amidst all the corporate bullshit and political spin, there can be a genuine meaning for local people in 'regeneration'.

1 comment:

margecsimpson said...

Great post :)