Learning to love where you live – even if it’s Croydon

By - Thursday 3rd November, 2016

A guide to self-acceptance for anyone who remains embarrassed to be a citizen of Croydon

Croydon: great place, even better people.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

I love Croydon. I love it so much that I set up a fashion label to celebrate it. But – incredibly – it turns out that not everyone shares my sentiments.

It’s indisputable that Croydon has become a much more exciting and vibrant place to live in the past few years: we are the ‘street art capital’ of London according to the Evening Standard, the “fastest-growing economy in the UK” according to CityAM, and finally having the “last laugh” at the naysayers according to The Guardian.

Yet there remains a curiously British tendency from some Croydonians to be pessimistic about the area; believing that if they only lived elsewhere, their lives would be infinitely better. While it’s true that geography can influence our wellbeing, we often vastly overestimate how much moving will actually improve our lives. If you’re miserable in one city, you’re probably going to be miserable somewhere else. There’s truth to the adage “wherever you go, there you are”.

It’s easy to be indifferent to Croydon when your only contribution to its wellbeing is through a self-service checkout

And let’s face it. We often don’t have complete control over where we live due to jobs, family obligations, and other factors. So how can you learn to love Croydon, even if you don’t feel that it’s the place of your dreams, or the most ideal location?

Stop driving through Croydon, start walking

A 2013 study by students at the University of Surrey confirmed the reality of “the windshield perspective” – observing the world from behind the wheel has a powerful (albeit distorted) influence on our judgments about places and even people. The researchers found that people driving a car tend to view less-affluent neighbourhoods more negatively than people who were walking, biking or taking public transport.

Researchers speculate that the gap in perception stems from the fact that drivers are exposed to less information than those who walk or cycle through an area. Because they are insulated from the environment around them, they are more likely to make snap judgements that confirm superficial biases.

Love thy Croydon neighbour

It’s true – Croydon can be a lonely place, but it doesn’t have to be. Proactively building relationships with your neighbours (rather than hurrying into the house to avoid them) is an excellent step to loving your area.

So, take ownership of your neighbourhood. Understand that Croydon isn’t just a place where you just happen to lay your head at night – it’s a place that you can influence. It’s up to you to make things better. Be proactively friendly and treat others as you wish to be treated: initiating a positive interaction with those whom you come in contact with. The simplest way to do that is to smile, wave, and learn your neighbours’ names, or saying ‘good morning’ to people where appropriate.

Think local, act local, buy Croydon

I’ve written before on the Local Multiplier Effect and the importance of buying from local businesses and traders. There is a very direct relationship between the health and desirability of your local community and how much shopping you do online. When stores close down and get boarded up, it’s not a coincidence. If you value the integrity of your local high street, don’t buy online. If you want boarded-up, empty shops in Croydon, do buy online.

Using local businesses means that you build local relationships. By contrast, it’s easy to be indifferent to a place when your only contribution to its wellbeing is through a self-service checkout.

Get out of your home and volunteer

Croydon could be so much better if only every reader of the Croydon Citizen resolved to spend a few hours per month helping at one of the 1,700 voluntary organisations in the borough. Not sure of where you can lend your talents? I’ve listed several ideas here.

If the above suggestions still haven’t moved you to reevaluate you view of Croydon, I’ve written an entire manifesto to shake you from your stupor. If that can’t make you love Croydon, then might I suggest a day trip to Sutton to make you realise just how lucky you are to be here.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • http://www.stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/blog dougshaw

    As someone who was born in the borough of Sutton and grew up in Croydon before returning back to adjacent pastures, I’ve always enjoyed some of what both boroughs have to offer. The recent post riot resurgence in Croydon is a joy to watch and I was really enjoying this piece until right at the very end, when the self titled ‘committed Christian’ who wrote this article, chooses to have a pop at his neighbouring borough. As an atheist I may be wrong about this but I thought Christianity was connected to love thy neighbour. You can big up Croydon, rightly, by all means – and that doesn’t mean you have to do so at the expense of your neighbours.

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      Just a bit of good-natured, inter-borough ribbing, Doug. I wouldn’t take it too seriously! :)

      • http://www.stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/blog dougshaw

        I was tired when I wrote my grumble. I still think your final point weakens a very good piece, but I didn’t express myself very kindly, sorry about that. I am motivated by what is going on in Croydon – and keen to see what we can learn and do differently around here as a result. Cheers.