Gentrification and the Bohemians

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Words and Photograph by Elizabeth Pollard

When I first started reading about the gentrification of Peckham, I have to admit, it angered me. Despite being the exact profile these articles complain about (ex-art student, graphic designer, white and kind of middle-class…) I still felt a sense of entitlement towards the area. I had the same old defence as all my neighbours and I was sticking faithfully to it; my family has lived in SE15 all my life, I moved to the area as soon as I moved to London five years ago and live, work, eat, drink and breathe Peckham. I never want to leave. It’s to London what Williamsburg is to Manhattan – totally up themselves but nothing original.

Much like me, hipsters all over SE15 are shaking their fists and declaring war against the rest of London (aka the world). Why should we endure years of painful night-buses out of the city, broken down Southern Trains and risking our lives to cycle over Elephant and Castle roundabout for thirty something Buggaboo mums and latte papas to move in, forcing us (too poor and too young) to move out.

So, who is to blame for the death of another authentic London village? Well, I have come to realise that it is in fact the haters of the outside world. The hipsters. The ‘originals’. The bohemians. Creatives pride themselves in being trendsetters and the bohemians of the modern world, but can you be a bohemian if you are reluctant for change?

Wikipedia defines a bohemianism as “the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.” This change and growth of society is a natural development, lead by artists and creatives. We shouldn’t resist it, but rather celebrate the wonderful effect ‘we’ have had on the community. We should be create, enjoy and, in the spirit of a true bohemian, move on to the next diamond in the rough. Catford anyone?


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