The collective

‘”The history of suburbia,” writes Rebecca Solnit, “is the history of fragmentation.”  It is the history of exclusion. […] It is a story about breaking away from the collective in all its variety to dwell among similar people.’* (Lauren Elkin)

Manchester is the third largest city in England and the U.K.  Whichever way you turn in the city, new buildings are going up, commercial and personal living spaces juxtaposed with the established to create a new cityscape.

Walking through this was an exhilarating experience for me, crushed in by all kinds of people, from so many backgrounds, in the city for makers’ and Christmas markets.  There are two stories from this experience that provide an intriguing contrast.  A new bar and restaurant on the edge of the city centre was absolutely empty.  It was looking for people to make it their space.  On the opposite edge of the city lie old warehouses, graffitied and tired but emerging from one comes vibrant music.

Walking off the dank, dark late afternoon in Manchester, one is embraced by the eating space called Grub.  Formed out of plywood and street food sellers marquees, the interior is rumoured to have cost £2,000 to transform.  People have made this a prime eating place sitting or standing around in large groups meeting up there.

One is a beautiful space looking for a community, the other a story of community people want to be a part of.

We need a story before we need money to begin something that matters for people.  Check out Seth Godin’s Tribes for more details.

And, if you’re in Manchester looking for somewhere to eat, I’d recommend Grub, very close to Piccadily railway station.  I particularly recommend the Cuban sandwiches and halloumi fries with pomengranate jewels – though the street sellers may be different.

(*From Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse.)

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