Ancoats… hip? upcoming?

The Ashton Canal by Ancoats

Ancoats is the area just north of the city centre in Manchester. It has a large population of people who have lived in and around that area for generations. From the things I’ve seen, it use to be the Italian Quarter.

When I first came to Manchester 9 years ago, it was seen as a place you don’t want to go too often.

I still remember talking to a taxi driver asking for New Islington (about 5 years before the Tram stop opened), he seemed very confused and when I finally showed him on google maps; he laughed and said “You mean Ancoats!

Although I don’t strictly live in Ancoats, I live between Ancoats and New Islington in the ward called Bradford. Basicilly for aguement sake, I live in Ancoats or on the edge of the northen quarter.

Recently its started going through the genertification phases. I assume it started once different groups of people started making it their homeincluding myself. So many changes than Rudys Pizza place has been named best Pizza place in Manchester and beyond. Vivid Lounge named second best thai restaurants in Manchester, although its a local cafe under my flat. I’m seeing the Ancoasts Coffee company beans appearing all over. Recently theres been a restaurant called squid, matcha tea room and some clean living restuarant called Kettlebell.

Kat with cocktail

And its not just the food places… The area is growing homes, unique flats, schools, hackspaces, nurseries, etc. No wonder its been featured among the hippest places in the UK.

Now listed among the hippest places in the UK , Ancoats has blossomed beyond recognition into one of Manchester’s best areas for independent food and drink.

The district was home to some of the largest mills in the city. It fell into disrepair after the slump of the cotton industry, and was more notorious than it was desirable. But the forgotten corner of the city soon attracted low-budget creatives. As the trendy Northern Quarter became satiated and prices rocketed in the city centre, young entrepreneurs looked slightly further afield to set up innovative new businesses.

Now, old mills are regenerated by indie cafes, restaurants and bars with a focus on high-quality, artisan products. One journalist for the New York Times heaped praise on the ‘ entrepreneurial spirit ’ of the area, while the San Francisco Chronicle named Ancoats as a must-see area for any tourist in 2017.

Some people are calling it the new Northern Quarter. But in reality, it’s an eclectic, inventive, and exciting foodscape all of its own.

Waterside # 2 - New Islington, Manchester

Certainly a shift from Ancoats very different past.

Targeted for being connected?

E3 2006 090

Little news which slipped under the radar in the UK was Kevin Rose the guy from Diggnation, founder of Digg and now one of the people involved in Google Ventures. Was targeted by a number of protesters over the anti-tech tensions in San Francisco.

The Digg founder said the protesters raised a banner reading “Kevin Rose Parasite” and handed out pamphlets to his neighbors that read, in part: “Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.”

The rapid growth of the local tech sector has sparked a series of protests in recent months, as concerns grow over economic inequality, evictions and neighborhood gentrification.

Gentrification… its that word again. Remember when I wrote about gentrification in a post a while ago?

Of course its bad Kevin was targeted, but the protesters certainly picked the wrong person.  Having dropped out of education at college age, he worked his way into the tech scene by appearing on TV and clawing his way up the ladder before taking the risk with a few initiative’s.

The irony of the protests wasn’t lost, as Kevin pointed it out for them shooting on Google phones.

Maybe its time to refresh the post which still isn’t up at Singleblackmale. This seems like a good opportunity to give more emphases to my point about the rich, educated and connected

They are feared, with their weird glasses geeky, electric cars and new data ethic. They use cafes as workplaces, bars to conduct meetings and workplaces to “chillax”. They don’t believe in business hierarchies and believe you can quantify everything from relationships to sex…

Hate gentrification? Think about the community

Warning in lift of Milliners Wharf

There has been a number of issues around the New Islington (Ancoats and Northern Quarter) area as of late. including Mans body found in the Ashton Canal and the calculated mugging of someone at 7pm a few weeks ago. The later, took place on the tow path under the bridge by VividLounge and I say calculated because their were 4 people involved and they locked a gate forcing people to walk under a bridge, straight into their trap.

Warning in Islington Wharf lifts

Although not good for those involved, its a careful reminder of the not so nice side of living with gentrification.

Theres been a ton of tension in San Francisco recently, which was going to write about here but opted to write on Single Black Male if they accept it.

Woolwich

I’m under no illusion that we are the outsiders moving in on what many have classed as their home forever. You can feel the tension in the air sometimes, specially as planning permission is given and locals see another highrise which they can’t ever dream of living in. Its not the first time I have experienced this. When me and Sarah moved to Woolwich, we lived in a small set of houses in the shadow of some council estates.

The only real trouble we ever saw from some young kids, who decided to throw stones into our garden while we were having a BBQ with friends. Which to be fair is nothing compared to the Beckenham Halloween incident.

They were planned to be knocked to the ground (not sure if it ever happened?) but Woolwich centre is a different place, as I witnessed when I went back 2 years ago. This mainly due to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which connected Woolwich with the city of London in all of about 25mins and the Olympic games which had money filter down from Stratford (East London). One of the last deprived areas of London suddenly became pricey and we sold our house at the right moment, getting a buyer pretty much straight away. That is the upside of gentrification… and to be fair it was quite a nice place to live if you were careful and avoided trouble.

Neither me or Sarah were attacked or even hassled from memory. We knew our neighbors and some people in the area. We also took part in the residents committee when possible. Woolwich wasn’t bad, it had a nice local market and I could get a haircut at 10pm.

New Islington to Brixton via San Francisco

The problems with New Islington, seem to stem from property developers who have gone into the area and I gather promised a lot and failed. Not only that they screwed over a lot of the locals and refused to enter into a dialogue with them. Not only that they have carved out a section for themselves rather than opt for a softly softly approach. Ask anyone about the promises for new islington by Urban Splash and the Ancoats medical dispensary.

But its not always the tensions are the fault of building developers. Sometimes you get a community of people who refuse or don’t get the idea of joining a existing community. I would say this is whats happening in San Francisco from what I have been reading and heard. I’m not blaming the geeks, startups and general people. But I am saying if your company starts to put on special transport and security (yes I’m pointing the finger at the BBC too) this is not a good message to the local community. It basically reads, the local community can not be trusted. Trust is essential for community to grow.

My next stop is Brixton, South central London. Lovely diverse area with a rich history and some very troubling moments. When I was in London, it was a good place but like Woolwich, there were places you don’t go. Having spent some time on the jury there, I have seen what happens when you ignore this and go looking for trouble. However I recently went back to visit my sister who lives on the outskirts of Brixton because she can’t afford to live in the area anymore. We met next to the station which had a small Starbucks! This alone was shocking for me but then we walked around the Brixton market/village? which had transformed from a standard market to South London’s Shoretditch or Northern Quarter.

Trendy makeshift bars and restaurants selling over priced food and drink. Don’t have a problem with this part so much. But my sister told me the tale of how locals are being forced out in favor of more bars and restaurants to cater those who wonder from the tube, 200 meters into the market and back.

Novelist Alex Wheatle describes how his native Brixton has changed from being an area where many outsiders feared to tread to somewhere where south London’s young professionals can now go for an £8 burrito. But has Brixton lost its unique vibe? ‘It’s very pleasant,’ says Wheatle, ‘but I do miss that constant pounding of reggae’

Alex is right on the money, its cool but something might be missing, be it pounding reggae or something else.

If you haven’t heard Spike Lee’s gentrification rant about Brooklyn, New York its a must… Here’s just a few of the snippets I found interesting…

You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code.

Or even move them all out…?

You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

Like I said originally, Ancoats was the Italian quarter, and although its changed. You got to have some respect…

That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?

Remind you of New Islington or Brixton Village anyone?

Spike is kind of right in what he says, its a rant but most of the points are good. But I’m not so sure gentrification is 100% bad.

My hope is for communities to form and connect becoming stronger together. I mean who doesn’t want to live in a strong community where people look out for each other and their space? I am personally starting to do more to unite the residents but we do need to think bigger picture…

I think this is where the study of familiar strangers comes in to play nicely. I also heard about a hyper local project around microblogging, which I think could do wonders if people are engaged enough to get involved. Of course throwing Technology at a social problem is never the solution but it can help if used in the right way.

I mentioned recently in Return of the JFDI, the Ancoats Canal clean up project. James actively works with the local community on the project. He’s very active in the Ancoats area and adores where he lives.

The project is a great example of how two communities can come together to help bring together a better community. I will spell it out if you’re not aware, a tight community generally face less crime. Yes you’ve all heard it before, its all part of the Broken Window phenomenon. Want more… have a read

My point is… Gentrification doesn’t have to be aggressive or seen as them vs us. It can be nice and gentle, where everyone is involved and everyone is happy with the changes. I’m also not saying the local community are to blame for the crime but it in the interest of both communities to come together to push out the undesirable behavior.