Reasons To Be Cheerful

By - Monday 21st January, 2013

Today is 2013′s ‘Blue Monday’. Andrew Dickinson tells us why nothing should get us down this year

The end of my 2012 was a mixed bag. I was on a physical low but a mental high. I owed the physical low to a heavy cough and cold, but the mental high had come from a look back on the year. It had been a trip down memory lane that filled me with a renewed optimism about dear ol’ Croydon for 2013 and beyond.

Let me tell you why.

It all started for me as long ago as last February when I was privileged to go on one of the Croydon Tours. My chest was swollen with historical pride and my eyes were moist with tears of joy as years of Croydon history were peeled away and revealed to me. Now that set me up for the rest of the year – that was it, if nothing else happened then that had given me a big lift. I’ll go on an extended tour later but I was made up for the year. Then, just a few months later, here in the heart of Old Town, this Cultural Quarter of ours, the deep blue doors of 1 Matthews Yard swung open to reveal this funky, industrial-designed café and co-working space with ambitious plans to nourish the stomachs and minds of all those who care to enter. I was buzzing. I was just getting used to my stronger blood pressure tablets when Croydon Radio announced itself. Yes, a community radio station! Right here in the Old Town! That was enough for one year, surely? But no, it didn’t stop there. Croydon Tech City initiative, Croxjam, Cherry Orchard Arts Festival, Business Enterprise Week, Portas Pilot Town and the formation of Croydon Old Town Business Association, the launch of The Croydon Citizen, and then Croydon Transition Town and numerous other events – all this going on whilst enjoying a pint of Cronx.

That was the year for me, with what seems to be an impressive list of sustainable projects, and throughout there’s been a song that my mind has had on a loop as a kind of soundtrack to it all and the chorus of which includes the words ‘international bright young things’.

Ignore the ‘international’ bit, but ‘bright young things’?

My reason for optimism is that I had the fortune of meeting many of what I term ‘these bright young things’ during the year and it has given me a warm glow of belief that this place is in good hands and minds. There’s a fresh, creative juice out there which, if pointed in the right directions, can really become part of the greater good of Croydon. From what I’ve seen and heard and read they seem to know what direction to point, and as long as they stay focused I believe they can lift this town to the level that we all want to see it aspire to.

It falls upon us all to tell positive stories about our town to bring about positive change

To use a football analogy, every so often a ‘golden generation’ comes along and if they are English we’re going to win the World Cup for 3 successive tournaments and the Euros in between. Well, I see this as very much a golden generation for Croydon. Being of a different generation I’m set apart from them and can look on as an outsider and to be honest I’m very excited by what I see. I do not want to get carried away but I can see, even taste, the potential there. I’m not saying the generations before have nothing to add or cannot have their input or be involved and all the other clichés, but with today’s media and technology and the speed of change and the energy needed to get ideas and projects off the ground I can see that we have the nucleus of a bright future. They have the privilege of youth, the sense of adventure, and the ‘can do’ attitude that the generations before once had.

I would like to say to them: Your opportunity to fulfil this potential is in front of you. Please take it in both hands and make the best of this opportunity. Give us a town to be even more proud of.

Rest assured, there’s no pressure on you, there’s no authority to answer to, there’s not a timeframe, but I know that you will put your own pressures on yourselves to try to make the good things happen.

It falls upon us all to tell positive stories about our town to bring about positive change, and I would like each of us to be unofficial ‘ambassadors’ for Croydon and to tell positive stories to those we meet from outside the borough and amongst ourselves, and to encourage each other to get involved, and by reading and contributing to transformational media such as The Croydon Citizen which will go a long way to making such things happen.

It shouldn’t need a visit from royalty or the mayor of London for us to bring our light from under a bushel.

Here’s to an exciting 2013.

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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  • Mario Creatura

    Well said Andrew! Talking up Croydon is the only way to challenge the largely wrong perceptions that outsiders (and a few insiders) have about where our town is heading.

    The brand new Waddon Leisure Centre attracted over 3,000 people over the weekend; Westfield/Hammerson obviously see the potential and are putting £1bn on the table to redevelop our town; local, grassroots intiatives like the ones you cite are making people take a second glance at what Croydon has to offer.

    It may be tough, but us all pulling together and keeping up the pressure on the naysayers and fighting (as you say) to explain what Croydon is really like will be worth it in the end.