2017: Croydon’s Summer of Love

By - Thursday 23rd February, 2017

The world needs happiness more than ever right now, so let’s lead by example

Image public domain.

Well, what a miserable year 2016 turned out to be. The year got appalling press for a variety of reasons, and Croydon again was mentioned as one of the most miserable places to live. Incidentally, who do they ask for these surveys? How can we reach these people?

There’s no guarantee that 2017 is going to be better as the global, national and local political scene continues to change and will filter down to our day to day lives. So, how are we going to have a bit of fun in 2017 and put some smiles on faces? Or are we content to carry on the same and let circumstances/external forces dictate how much fun we can have?

My ‘pitch’ for a bit of fun and bring some colour in to our lives is that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love of 1967. Let’s adopt some of the positive aspects of that time; the love and peace to all, the colour, the music, the art and all round fun and good vibrations of that year. Far be it from me to tell people what to do, but I’d like to see this adopted as our theme for 2017. Why not give it a try and join in?

It’ll be a little bit more than putting a long wig on and some John Lennon specs

I implore all the movers and shakers, musicians, poets, writers, artists, event organisers, gallery owners, independent cinema operators, radio owners/presenters, chefs/restaurants, techies, editors, designers/makers, photographers and gardeners to bear this theme in mind when planning for this year. How cool would we be if we adopt some of the positive ideas from that summer if we all tune in, turn on and drop out, but more importantly have some fun?

It will be a little bit more than putting a long wig on, some John Lennon specs and a frilly top fancy dress and flashing a peace sign. It’ll be about actively being more tolerant of each other and respecting our differences. Realising that we are all in this borough together and that collectively, we can make a difference and make it the great place we want it to be. Perhaps the good feeling would extend beyond the summer, and Croydon would become that kind of place.

If one gallery owner could hold one event with, say, a psychedelic theme or have a wall painted in the art of that time, if radio presenters who play music on their shows could play one song each week from that era, if cinema schedulers could look at the films of 1967 and have a season of those films, if our poets could write a poem a month around the theme, if writers could tease out people who have recollections of that glorious summer and interview them as to what they were doing and what they can remember…

I’ve been met with an overwhelming tide of positivity to the idea but I cannot get to everyone

How about gardeners, community and others growing wonderful, multi-coloured flowers in places where they can be seen and enjoyed by all? Imagine being in a bar or restaurant and ordering a ‘Light My Fire’ chilli burger or a ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ cocktail or a ‘Sgt Peppers’ salad or a ‘Respect’ locally brewed beer. If website owners across the borough could adopt a relevant theme on their home webpages it would all add to the mix. Slowly but surely across the borough you would see examples of people joining in and trying to bring colour and fun into our everyday lives. Why not make it you as well?

I’ve already started in the latter part of 2016 to put the idea out to influencers. So far, I’ve been met with an overwhelming tide of positivity to the idea but I cannot get to everyone so I need you to spread the word and enthuse others with the idea. There will be a recognisable ‘official’ art theme that will be used on various publicity that is to be designed by a local artist and in my fortunate position of creating events in Wandle Park the Summer programme will be branded under ‘The Summer of Love’ with an eponymously named festival on 17th June.

I’d love to hear stories of memories of that time, so send yours to the Citizen or ask your parents or grandparents if they have memories of that year and what they were doing and if they were part of the ‘scene’. I don’t remember or know what Croydon was like in ’67, I imagine the Summer of Love passed it completely by. So now’s our chance to have another crack at one.

Start tweeting us your suggestions of what you’ll do to make Croydon’s Summer of Love a reality

This article, therefore, is the official ‘pitch’ for the Summer of Love theme to be adopted. I see it running across the summer from May to September. The Citizen will publish another article in May when the summertime begins and we can get going in earnest. Maybe, just maybe, whoever it is who gets asked in these surveys about living in Croydon might get to have a positive experience and we no longer feature in these leagues.

This article was brought to my attention and perhaps sums up the underlying mood better than I ever could. Follow @CRSummerofLove on Twitter, and start tweeting us your suggestions of what you’ll do to make Croydon’s Summer of Love a reality.

Love and peace.

Andrew Dickinson

Andrew Dickinson

I'm a long term resident of Croydon and I'm lucky to live and work in the borough. As a schoolboy my proudest moments were playing representative football for Croydon where I would fight tooth and nail to win for the borough and contribute towards its sporting reputation. For 18 years I worked up in London and became distanced from the town. Now I've re-engaged with the place over the last 20 years and feel frustrated in finding a way to vent my passion for Croydon (as I'm too old to play football) so I'm always on the lookout for any new initiatives to bring positivity to the place. I live on Bramley Hill with my lovely family and I have an allotment locally. I'm a keen amateur in gardening, environmentalism, permaculture, photography and website design. I'm an oyster mushroom farmer, run a social enterprise called Green Croydon, I'm part of the Croydon Fairtrade steering group, part of the Croydon ReUse Organisation, current chair of Croydon Transition Town and a community gardener; I'm on the borough Food Programme, Parks and Social Enterprise steering groups and a community apple presser. I currently work for the council as an officer creating and promoting community events in the beautiful Wandle Park. I put on the Croydon Environmental Fair each year and the Summer of Love theme and festival was something I dreamed up. I inspired the 'I would make Croydon better by' theme. There's also the Give and Take events in Surrey Street. I started the monthly Arts, Crafts and Vintage market in Exchange Square. Formerly I was a Turf Projects trustee, a Croydon Radio presenter and part of the Old Town business association.Between all this, I write the occasional article for the Citizen. I support local artists and local musicians by enabling the space for them to create I also support local independent journalism.

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  • Ally McKinlay

    A fantastic idea Andrew and the cogs are already turning on a variety of potential opportunities. Croydon Saffron Central also has much to share with the community as it makes way for new developments so watch out for some flower power, peace & love.

    • Andrew Dickinson

      go for it bruv x

    • Catherine Pestano

      hiya is there a working group?

  • lizsheppardjourno

    Right behind this one – hope it takes off and really flies :)

    • Andrew Dickinson

      thanks for your support babe. love and peace

      • Catherine Pestano

        yeah well done Andrew, some joyously conceived positivity!

  • Ian Marvin

    Don’t forget that Matthew Fisher who was responsible for the organ on Whiter Shade of Pale was from Addiscombe and apparently still lives in Croydon.

    • Andrew Dickinson

      Wow, Didn’t know that. Would love to get in touch with him to see if he would perform it. Perhaps on Rob Wilsons keyboard

    • Catherine Pestano

      thats amazing so who knows him?

    • Andrew Dickinson

      enquiries have been made

  • blath8@googlemail.com

    Sounds excellent! I’ll be there … everywhere! 2 days left to see the brilliant “You say you want a Revolution” exhibition at the V&A to get more ideas.

    • Andrew Dickinson

      Oh no hadn’t heard of this – too late by the sound of it

  • Catherine Pestano

    wow love it I am totes there. Great excuse to dress up. Oh and discuss important things etc.

    • Andrew Dickinson

      Catherine are you involved with a choir with Katie Rose?

      • Catherine Pestano

        Hiya we used to run croydon community choir together , now I run that and she runs Crystal palace. Happy to email with you. I am on catherine at naturalvoice dot net