Why Gentrification is All My Fault – and Why it Should Be Your Fault Too

I started playing the ukulele in 2007. I blame myself.

Gentrification has indeed happened and continues to do so. I am so utterly frustrated. I am angry at the Tory party, for destroying communities over the past few decades. The idea of community does not fit into the Tory agenda.

I recently read a jovial article on how shops with minimal signage are the scourge of society and gentrify neighbourhoods and that they should be mocked. It also said such shops are in long affluent areas making the article pointless. Design moves on, I remember colour changing lights in bars during the noughties being a thing. It was just a thing, that happened. Get over it.

I opened my shop in Camden Stables market in 2008 and built my business up from very little. One could argue my shop was unnecessary and pointless, but it was creative and personal to me. I started selling jewellery made out of Lego and t-shirts made out of old duvets. I took up the Ukulele, played the odd show terribly and without much skill and enjoyed the alternative club scene which I have seen subsequently destroyed through losing venues such as the Ghetto, the Astoria, and I’m sure many many more. I think I speak on behalf of the LGBT community when I say we miss these small businesses and regret their closure.

Pictured is Philip Normal with Timberlina at Duckie At The Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Pictured is Philip Normal with Timberlina at Duckie At The Royal Vauxhall Tavern

2016 needs to be the year we turn the attention on why gentrification happens, rather than blaming businesses that open up because people have entrepreneurial skill and want to make a living. People open businesses and people make stuff; this is the backbone of our economy, we pay tax, buy stuff, and promote the country as somewhere to be proud of and trade with creatively. This is something that should be encouraged and applauded. Even anti capitalist artists and campaigners have to buy eggs, and they do, I’ve watched them turn them into an Eggs Benedict.

Let’s not forget the creative industry make £8m an hour for the United Kingdom.

If you want gentrification to curb, then campaigning against people buying stuff is not a feasible idea, practically nor fiscally. You’re potentially asking the creative industries to leave the country, as creative as you think you are as an anti capitalist, you are asking every creative person that does something and all of the team around them to not be welcome. What you are doing is in fact destructive and controlling.

Something that I came across on my Facebook today was “Oh and don’t go shopping”.

Modern society brings choice, and that’s going to have its side effect being ‘want’ and ‘desirability’.

How about we build some more houses in the right places where people will live in them, for the right price? I’m not going to use the word ‘affordable’ until the Tory government accept it as an actual realistic thing, and then rent them out or sell them to key workers such as nurses and other members of the community that in reality keep the country going.

In London, we fail to assess and appreciate the social aspect of niceness. We mostly ignore the idea of the cafe or bar as a social space as an acceptable idea because it might have a gimmick or different signage, but we need perspective on what a cafe is. The alternative is enjoy the corporate idea to thrive to take a control of our streets and spaces.

Let us take control of some of the unused commercial spaces. Let us turn them into hubs supporting the creative industries alongside the prestigious and fantastic university culture we proudly admire, or the schools we want to support. Ultimately making money to contribute to the economy and showing young people that you being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a wanker.

Oh and if this does go ahead, don’t let me play the Ukulele in your ‘pop up’, I’m shit at it.

Words – Philip Normal

Philip is a fashion designer based in London and Labour’s LGBT officer for Vauxhall. Check out his store here.

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