By - Friday 16th November, 2012

To solve Croydon’s problems, our first step must be to start calling it home

Photo by Rob Salmon

It’s not every day that one gets a chance to write about the place they call home. I spend a lot of idle brain time thinking about the place as I have its best interests at heart and want to see it succeed and not be the butt of jokes and the recipient of negative press.

This will for the town to succeed, for me, has always been there. I think for many it has recently been awakened by the awful events of summer 2011. It seemed to wake us up to how far the town had slid in many ways. The emergence of Croydon Tours, and if you’ve been on one you’ll know this, reminded us of how innovative and forward thinking the place had once been. In terms of progress those times belong to a bygone era but there are good reasons that the town could have a brighter future. The tours also highlight how fortunate we are to have what we’ve got. Croydon is a great place and I’ve always been proud of it.

As a keen student of permaculture, in design terms, there are occasions when we are encouraged to think in zones. For example, if you have a house and garden then Zone 0 would be the house (home), Zone 1 would be just outside the back door. Zone 2 into the garden, Zone 3 down by the shed, Zone 4 the rough area behind the shed and so on.

If you’ll indulge me then to apply this zoning to the county of Surrey, then Croydon will be Zone 0, or home.

Now, we all want our homes to be pleasant places to live and when we have guests round not be embarrassed by it. We carry out maintenance so that all systems work and it shows no signs of deterioration. We decorate and update so that it keeps up its value, and we keep it clean and tidy. We then ensure that the inhabitants are safe, happy, fed, cared for, cherished, respected, listened to, educated and so on and so on

Do you see where I’m going? This is how the town and its inhabitants should be treated and then treating the town. Is this too much to ask, too dreamy to Imagine (John Lennon)?

I don’t expect you, dear reader, to remember this permaculture approach. But what I do hope you remember is that the care of your neighbourhood and town starts with you.

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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  • KakeLP

    Interesting thoughts! Can you give some examples of the sort of thing you’re talking about? Are there any other ideas from permaculture that can be carried over and adapted to help us make Croydon a better place?

  • disqus_xfUNdzN9kF

    Thanks for your comments Kake. My next two articles, yet to be published, will put forward suggestions on permaculture lines which if adopted would contribute to the overall well being/improvement of Croydon. So keep an eye on the site. I’m not trying to be mysterious by not saying more, but I don’t want to take anything away from the articles and the euphoria of this new site. My editor would not thank me.
    The fact that you have been interested enough to ask, suggests to me that you would be interested in the transition town initiative that has just begun in the town. We have our next meeting on the 21st at MY at 1930. Drop in to hear what’s going on.Thanks again Andrew

    • MrQwest

      Hey Andrew, it’s a nice post you’ve written. Just out of interest, what’s the ‘Transition Town Initiative’? I won’t be able to make MY on the 21st but I’m curious as to hear what it’s all about.

  • Kake

    Ah, thanks, it wasn’t clear from the article that this is just the first in a series! I have a deadline on Wednesday so may have to work late, but I’ll pop in to Matthews Yard if I can.