12 August 2011

Hometown Pride and the Riots

While this doesn't really fit with the general theme of my blog, it is something that's been on my mind a lot lately.  I lived in the Dingle area of Liverpool for a few years, and that's one of the places that has experienced the recent riots.  When I heard that Toxteth and the Dingle had riots, I was disheartened, but not surprised.  Those are areas tend to be avoided by others.  I remember when we first moved there and we were getting on the bus at the university to go home.  We told the bus driver where we were going, and he looked at us like we were insane.  He asked if we were sure we wanted to go there, so I responded "yes. We live there.".  He didn't hide his surprise, but gave us our tickets and we got home just fine.  I understood his surprise, for outsiders to Liverpool don't usually go there.  It wasn't just that we're American, but no one outside Liverpool tends to settle in the Dingle or Toxteth, or are met with surprise when they do.  I've a friend who lived down the road from me when we lived there; she was from southern England and was also met with surprise at the fact that she lived in the Dingle.

When living in the Dingle, we became quite popular with the neighbourhood kids.  At first they just wanted to hear my accent, but they came by most days just to chat with me.  Litter is a huge problem in that area, and these kids also had a tendency to just throw rubbish on the street.  When we saw them do that, though, we made them pick it up.  I didn't mind putting it in our bin, but I didn't want it on the street or pavement.  At first this was met with disbelief, with one child remarking "but no one comes here anyway".  I retorted that no one would want to come if the residents didn't even care enough about their home to take care of it.  Evidently that sunk in a little, for some of the kids relayed to their parents that I didn't allow them to litter.  This became evident when I was walking along Park Road and saw some of the kids with their mum.  One of the girls started to throw her rubbish on the street, and her mum corrected her and then turned to me to inform me that she didn't allow her children to litter.  It amused me that she felt the need to address me on the matter, to be honest.

It saddens me that this pride in one's home seems to be lacking from some of the residents there.  The Dingle and Toxteth have great potential, if the people there take care of them.  There are incredible views of the Mersey where we lived in the Dingle, along with quite a few historic properties (though they aren't always in great condition, unfortunately).  There's no quick fix, but they also aren't going to improve as long as they're skirted in fear.  Thankfully, though, many residents do still have pride in their homes and have turned out for clean-up efforts.

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