A reflection on where we are – and how it all feels at the moment, particularly in Granby.
A few weeks ago I wrote emotionally on here about the how tos and joys and frustrations of urban renaissance. Of being involved in bringing new life back to places long condemned to death by the vicissitudes of time and public policies.
“There is no one method. And even when you all make one up and decide what you want to do and how you want to do it to get to where most of you want to go in your place, it will change by the day depending on how you are all feeling:
- Some days those of you who are ‘good at the detail’ won’t be able to be bothered with ‘all that crap’
- And those of you who are ‘always able to see the best in everyone’ will sometimes think just the opposite of that and will find you’ve just let everyone know in no uncertain terms.
- Other days life will happen and the thing you’ve planned, dreamed of and applied for competently and confidently will be knocked back for no good reason you’re going to be able to see that day.
- Or more than a few of us will have forgotten to put on our superhero suits on the same day and so stand revealed as the fragile, maybe tired and sometimes even lonely human beings we in fact are.
Because that’s all we are and that’s what we are and that’s the whole of what we are. And what’s wrong with that? It’s complicated and we are all of us only learning. But now and then and gradually over time, and all of us together in all of this, we might get somewhere. We might see some improvement.”
Then since writing that I’ve been relatively quiet on this blog, because life has turned out to be exactly as described above.
But we are, as they say ‘getting there.’
As well as the work I love and get paid for and my life that is only rarely part of this blog, our work together in Granby has reached an absolute pitch these last few weeks. The intense attention to precise details of a community led renaissance of the place, which has always been about much more than just the houses, together with what feels like half of the world’s media coming to talk to us since our Turner Prize nomination. Some days in the celebratory limelight and many more of saying to each other ‘Do I have to?’
But anyway the first Community Land Trust houses are nearly done! And in a very few weeks new people will be living in them for the first time in decades. Recently we had a look round.
In some ways these might look like the kind of pictures you’d expect to see at the late stage of any house restoration. But of course I know the story behind these, and so do you. Of the decades of community effort and determination this has taken, and the wisdom, help and industry of these last few years. So these pictures and the whole story are a tribute and a testament to the people of Granby. But look what the houses have had to recover from, what the decades of emptiness have done.
Not all of our houses are in this condition, thankfully, but you’ll understand the miracle of recovery shown in the first few photos above?
And of course the CLT has partners also working on miracles here at the moment.
Then we can all get on with getting the local shops going again and all the other ideas I’ll tell you about some day. And we can tell the story so far, in peace.
As well as all this, and at the same time, I’m a guest member of another story, another piece of urban renaissance.
Meanwhile in Granby?
Our wild flower meadow blooms in the one of the Four Streets where work has not yet started. It will, but not just yet.
Celebrating the most astonishing urban renaissance it has ever been my privilege to be worn out by!
Download your copy of the July Granby 4 Streets newsletter here.