I’m a 22 year old author from a place called St.Raphael’s Estate. Locally, it’s known as a badland. Statistically, it’s one of the poorest areas in London. What comes out of places like these isn’t really a surprise to anyone. Drugs, theft, robbery, and violence have all had their heyday here.
Consequently, our past actions has given us a reputation of mythical proportions. We are seen as the modern day goblins and ghouls of North West London. At first, that may have been a cool thing, but now the stigma is hard to shake off.
However, there is group who lives here and wishes to give their local area a new name. A reputation that would correct the twisted perceptions geared towards us.
On March 5th 2015, me and five other young people from this estate initiated something highly unusual. We walked around the hood with a rucksack full of books. These books were books written by us; a collection of real life memoirs and commentaries completed the summer before. 1000 copies were printed and put through every home in St.Raphael’s Estate.
We named the project ‘Authors of the Estate’.
In the past, the artist was a trusted teacher and storyteller in their local area
The artist, in times past, were nothing like the superstars we see today. They were not men and women of global renowned, but trusted teachers and storytellers in their local area. Their ideas and art kept their villages sane. With that in mind, bad areas in London are not really bad, just the result of an artist’s absence. I believe that if artists stopped focusing on changing the world and endeavoured instead to change their world (their immediate surroundings) a new expression of democracy will arise where people would not look for governments but creatives for solutions. The artists needs to be the kings of the community again.
Many woke up to find a brand new book at their front door. A book in which the authors were their next door neighbours. Frankly, many were confused by this spontaneous creative burst. Many asked why. There was a motive behind our madness.
You only know a baby is hungry if the baby is crying. You only know the condition of London if the people of London speak. The ones who carry power, are the ones who get their ideas out. Our problem is that whenever we want to make our voice known, we either rap about it in a song, which few people hear, or we vent our frustrations through violence. Results from these methods have brought little change. But if we put our ideas in a book, our thoughts have the power to go anywhere, meet anyone, and will stay alive long after we are gone.
A changed perspective changes everything. So that’s what we did. We gave ourselves power. We called ourselves authors, and now whenever we are mentioned in the media, more times than not, our estate is referred to as a place of creativity rather than a place of crime.