In the UK context, creative neighbourhoods are typically the preserve of London. In turn, places like Shoreditch, Camden and Hackney spring to mind. For those living beyond the periphery of such postcodes, creativity in the traditional sense, is sparse. However, creativity, which is all around us, and within all of us, often requires a new way of seeing. A fresh or alternative perspective can help us to see beyond the mundane, to the rich tapestry of lived experiences that comprise creative communities.
Referencing Luton High Town, where I live, as a mere statistic on an interactive poverty map of the UK, belies the global reach this town once had with its exquisite millinery and hat making. The cobbled streets that bring you down to the train station have helped to transport millions of stories to their destinations. The launderette supports the local population along with new immigrants, who contemplate their dreams while waiting for the wash cycle to complete. The traditional retail decor of Luton High Town, which at first may seem outdated, conceals models of what can be achieved with simple vision. Majories’ for example, provides a splash of colour in what is an austere environment for many. A space where every item down to the last trinket brings its own story and creates an eclectic narrative that successfully fuses the past with the present and reminds us of what is possible, as we face an uncertain future.
I currently work at University and on my way into London each day to teach the children of the super-rich, I pass a homeless man camped at Luton train station who is better read than all of my students combined. As teachers, how familiar are we with the inherent value within the community we are tasked to serve? In turn, how successful are we at including the voices and experiences of such communities within our own teaching practice?