Do you have a vision?
I think all creative folk are visionary sorts. After all, we often have a spark of an idea, which needs working into a fully fledged project with a master plan. Sometimes the catalyst is a piece of fabric or a colourful postcard. Maybe it’s an idea on Pinterest which you think, hey, I can change this, improve the technique, alter the quantities and make something even better. Perhaps it’s an exhibition which fires you up to put your own spin on things. And what about simply crazy ideas, a flash of inspiration, one of those what-if thoughts?
This sort of blue-sky thinking shouldn’t just be kept for our sewing projects. What if you could tap into this pool of great ideas in order to improve where you live, work and shop? Well, now you can!
As owner of Hometown, I made a deliberate decision to set up shop in Rochester High Street ten years ago. I loved the fact that it was a small town, with lots of independent businesses, where history and present day sit side by side. Definitely not a clone town and hopefully a place which was supported as much by the local people, as well as being a destination for visitors. And so it is, and with your ideas, it could be even better. Quite frankly I want more people to use and enjoy our history, our town and support the local community and economy.
This month I went to a talk by our local MP, Kelly Tolhurst. In 2019 the Government are launching the ‘Future High Streets Fund’, designed to help reinvent high streets. There are millions of pounds of funding available for new and visionary ideas for our towns. There’s a special heritage category and Medway Council are putting in a bid for funding, but in my opinion, they need my help and your help. After all we’re the ones with a vision.
So the million dollar question. What would you do to improve the centre of Rochester? What would make it more vibrant, collaborative, more community-spirited? What follows, in no particular order, are some random threads in my brain.
* Could it be the availability of empty shop as venues for pop-up / start-up businesses?
* More community spaces for the young, the old, and all those in between?
* Ever considered a Rochester pound to encourage local spending?
* Maybe it’s a repair shop where we could all learn a bit more how to make-and-mend, rather than throw-away.
* What about an IT hub which runs workshops in social media or other modern day skills?
* Could it be a permanent space for a small cinema?
* Perhaps it’s regular small festivals for us, the locals - fibre festival anyone?
* What about changing an empty building into a town-centre nursery plus homes for the elderly (watch Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4 year olds’ - it’s brilliant)
* More murals on walls, fairy lights in the trees, yarn bombing on the bollards?
* Maybe it’s having a good local website that’s the fount of all knowledge for local events?
* How about turning one of the surface car parks into a longer term 6-8 hours facility to help local staff and Hometown students who can’t park, because the multi story is full of commuters?
* What about insisting that landlords of empty shops make their shop windows available to local schools to display their art projects?
* Why not introduce town centre ’Boris bikes’ or more bike racks and dog tethering posts?
* Mobile bank, cookery school, packaging-free supermarket? Woah - OK, I need to breathe now! But seriously, what would you do to improve Rochester High Street?
Once you start to brain storm, the ideas simply flow. The filter can come later. You see, vision can be practical, inspirational, out of this world, simply common sense or a combination of all these. It could be something costing a few pounds or many thousands. So our town NEEDS YOU and your bright ideas! The funding will be awarded to those towns putting in the best plans and the Government wants ‘visionary ideas’. Initial interest has to be lodged by 22 March with final plans submitted by the summer.
If you have ideas, please jot them down on paper with your contact details. You can drop them into the shop, or pop them in a post box, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also add a comment to this post and be a pal, share this conversation with your friends. (Just as a PS I’m writing this to start the conversation. I’ve not been asked to canvass for ideas. My bright idea is to write this and ask you. After all as a team of visionaries, anything is and can be possible). Let’s DO IT!