I hate this obsession with "new". My city is preparing to be the Capital of Culture in 2008 and everything's just got to be new, new, new. There are huge long roads leading into town that are nothing but row after row of boarded-up shops and abandoned buildings, but no one's doing anything with those -- it's all got to be new, new, new. I look at those places and I see cafes, bars, music venues and community centres; I see a whole part of town coming alive again.
Ironically, one of the first things they did when we won the Capital of Culture bid was decide to demolish Quiggins, a thriving cultural centre in the city. Why? Well, so they could build something, um, new. State-of-the-art, no doubt.
Now the city promises to create a new "gay quarter". I'll be generous and not suggest that it's just a cynical attempt to cash in on the so-called "pink pound" rather than create real community; aside from that, why are they not doing something with the gay quarter that already exists? Can they not clean up the existing gay part of town, breathing new life into it? Nah, it has to be new.
Meanwhile, in my borough the plan is to demolish all the high schools and replace them with something -- you guessed it -- new.
I love this prophecy of Isaiah's:
And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.
This speaks of regeneration and renewal, not replacements. The philosophy of government at the moment, certainly in Britain, seems to be to replace everything with something new, bigger, better; not making fresh and alive again what already exists, but demolition and replacement. I think it's going to be down to people themselves to start taking back their communities , because the government sure isn't going to help. They'll tear down and they'll put up something new, but they don't have the faith to make something out of the beauty that's already there.