Yesterday I met with Chico, a Croydon resident and friend who I first met at some point over the last few years, through May Project Gardens.
Our meeting, which involved a meandering walk through Croydon, came off the back of a phone call we’d had a few days before in which we discussed ways we could create a project that focused on sustainability, food growing, education and creating a culture of peace.
On our walk Chico showed me Croydon from his perspective. We walked through Surrey Street Market, the oldest operating market in the UK, where Chico stopped and spoke to many vendors.
“Croydon’s getting gentrified”, Chico said. “The council are starting to muscle out the old traders, who’ve been here for generations, so they can get in the new, hip stalls.” The traders shared their stories with us.
It seems as though the pattern of urban regeneration goes something like:
Empty/underused space –> Foreign investor buys space –> New, soulless builds and unaffordable housing follow
Disrupting the flow could look like:
Empty/underused space –> community groups/activists set up a project –> social value and profit is demonstrated –> empty space transformed into thriving social hub
The two sites he showed me – the heart of a busy roundabout and the basement of a car park – became the focus of our conversation for the rest of the walk. From our breadth of interests we agreed to focus on establishing a project in one of the empty/underused spaces.
Chico, like Gee of ReSpace, have told me the following – “For those of us doing ‘the work'”, meaning creating a regenerative culture and a sustainable society, “competing with each other is stupidity itself. We have to get out of our own ways, resign our egos, and allow our purpose and shared vision to unify us.”
We’re too few to work against each other. It’s incredibly important for us to work together.
Excitingly, Chico and I are no longer two individuals who share a common interest. We are two individuals who have agreed on a shared vision that we wish to manifest and create.
We’ve also established that we are looking for a third person to join us in our mission. We agreed the person has to be switched on and aware to what’s going on in the world. Not meaning current affairs in the news, but more significantly, be tuned into the state of the world and the more than human community of life, which is withering away as we continue to decimate bioregions, driven by our wish to exploit natural resources for financial gain.
It’s ok not to know exactly what you wish to do, or what your role is going to be exactly, what matters is that you’re open enough and driven enough to go on the journey of connection as you find your ultimate place of belonging and act from a solid foundation, and begin standing in your own power.
Get in touch if the opportunity resonates with you.