Regeneration = Gentrification Part 2: As Below, So Above
I have written before about where I live, many times in fact; about the people, the place and the hidden unseen who reside there. I’ve also written about the local council’s plan to demolish the estate where I live to make way for new homes and to build on the playing field, an area that accounts for 60% of the open green space, free for public use, in what is the poorest area of the town. You can read Part 1 here if the fancy takes you.
Well, those plans are still going through. My home will be demolished, the mature trees ( cherry, linden, elder, cottoneaster), Ivy and other plants and shrubs will be hewn down and torn up. I will be rehoused in a new build (sounds good I know, but these homes will be smaller with significantly smaller gardens, apparently, according to the council, people don’t want outdoor space). But this is nothing new and as I said, I’ve written about this before.
Previously I had hoped that more people would be bothered about the loss of the estate but I was wrong. There were a few but not enough, and too many of those few, the working poor, work long hours in manual jobs and are left either too tired or with not enough hours in the day, sometimes both, to put in the required effort. Added to that, planning committee meetings and other meetings open to the public occur during normal working hours, meaning that many residents are unable attend. All too many of the residents though have fallen prey to the lure of a new home and money to cover the cost of moving and more besides.
You may well be wondering what my problem is. So what if the community spirit is lost? So what if you have less access to smaller open green spaces? So what if mature trees will be cut down? The truth is there are many wider issues and concerns.
Loss of Land
I always seem to write about our connection to the land, as regular readers will know, and so the obvious loss of this land is a major issue. The field, as I’ve mentioned, accounts for 60% of the open space in the poorest district of the town, which translates to around 70,900 square metres. The council is quick to stress that 50% of the area will remain, but even so that’s half of the 60%.
And it’s not just the loss of land. The council tells us they will create a wildlife area, which is just ridiculous considering that the wildlife is already there, not to mention the destruction building work will cause; the loss of habitat, the constant passing of heavy vehicles, disturbance and noise pollution. Once this land is taken from us, there will be no taking it back.
Issues of Money and (Perceived) Class
My estate is separated from another neighbourhood by a main road. That estate is mostly working class, but those who have bought their homes. Some of them may even consider themselves to be lower middle class. This estate has a smaller park of around 9,300 square metres. This too has been earmarked by the local authority for housing. This means that out of 120,700 square metres of green space 80,200 will be lost, leaving just 40,500. What makes the pill even harder to swallow is that the land on this other estate was gifted to the community by the Gilstrap Trust (Gilstrap family were once a benefactor of the town). Is it a coincidence that some of the members on the Trust’s board are also council members?
This community is kicking up a fuss over the potential loss of land. They’ve protested, gotten local and national media involved and are fighting tooth and nail to protect this area, unlike the residents on the estate where I live. And why might that be? Well, the answer is simple: money and class. These folks already own their own homes and so cannot be sold the lie that any new housing will benefit them. They do not have to choose between new homes and the land where their children play. And whilst I wish them success, I doubt very much they will succeed. Money talks and the council cares not for the people.
Whilst this specific issue is very local to myself, to me it highlights a wider problem.
As Below, So Above
Hermeticism tells us that all things are connected, that what happens in the microcosm is a reflection of what is happening in the macrocosm. With this in mind then, my local issues are a reflection of national and global issues. The loss and destruction of land and the displacement of peoples is happening all over the world. And the poor are always the worst affected.
The Grenfell Tower fire happened in 2017. Millions of pounds were raised by the general public to help those affected and yet many families are still homeless. Where is that money?
There’s the Palestinian plight and the Israeli land grab (and no, I’m not anti semitic, nor do I have any problem with Jewish people, or any people for that matter, but legitimate criticism of governments is a must). Then there’s the Brazilian leader Bolsonaro and his hostility to the indigenous people of Brazil. There are many such examples the world over. Extreme, you might think, when I started this piece talking about my own small issue, but that’s the point.
As below, so above.
Everything is local to someone. What is happening in these smaller local areas is symptomatic of what is happening in the wider world. Everything is connected. And the way to tackle what happens in the macrocosm is to first address what is happening in the microcosm. Yes, that means looking first at local issues, but it also means taking what action we can, both locally and on the wider scale.
Sometimes small, individual actions may not be enough, or they may seem futile in the face of such oppression, but we must start somewhere. And besides, as below, so above; who knows where the fight might lead you, for all things are connected.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.