‘Place I am proud to call my home’: My open letter to Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 12:02 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:16 29 May 2020
BBC Radio Suffolk communities manager and Ipswich Community Media director Cad Taylor has written an open letter to Ipswich in a bid to boost spirits in the town.
Ipswich, what is your identity and who do you see when you look in the mirror? When I look at you, I see a multitude of invention, resilience and of new chances for people, time and time again. I see you as a home, for everyone, a place that I am proud to call my home. I have been meaning to write and encourage you for a while now, because I don’t think you always do this yourself – in fact, you quite often forget to do it at all.
So this is a gentle reminder not just to you, but to everyone, at this time of mass reflection.
You made so much music, you home-brewed mad talent, from drum and bass to epic sound system culture. You cooked up roots, rhythm and blues, and rock and you made everyone say you are a DIY town, whatever that really means... Despite the lack of big funds, you made some real legends. Home to punks and poets, home to hardcore, folk and a world exporter of dance sounds.
You are a new home to so many, who have travelled, sometimes solo and young, from war torn countries, fleeing from horrors that I weep to hear about, people we are lucky to meet. I am proud that you’ve flung your arms around thousands of people over the many years and welcomed them in. Those who came for solace and a safer life. Good work Ipswich, good solid kind work.
You’ve nurtured charities and organisations, language schools and social justice campaigns. Many legends are made here. What about ‘We are Ipswich’ – made up of the theatres, art spaces, and creative organisations that chose to make you THEIR home. That is something to be very proud of. And the many thousands that would in normal times walk up Portman Road, (just as theatrical in its own way). If you were a party (and I love a party) you would be the type of party I love to go to. No one single genre, no one style, no one colour, all the music and NO boredom. It is true that we may sometimes have to dig deep, to find your vibrancy, or the happening scene. But you are a university town now, a crown in the education scene, young people choosing you to learn with you, they too, often staying here and laying roots. Every country’s flavours, every tasty type of food and a realness that you don’t always get in a more fashionable town.
So much integrity at your core – that’s what I think you have got, Ipswich. Your very fabric is a patchwork of migration, through thousands of years - the type of party I want to be at. And local stories, through generations living here, tales of farming and of engineering. These industries, that change and adapt as life rolls on and on.
Radio stations – renegades, returnees – coming back to live and bring up families. Estates that survive the hard times, new build areas that are finding their own identities. Care homes, youth clubs, home starts, big hearts. Though you’ve had the odd media kicking over the years. You boldly show the whole region – that this rich community has no fears.
Different cultures, side by side, co-existing, respecting and celebrating our differences. “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”
But – What does a future town look like? I think it looks positive, we nurture our youth, we celebrate truth. We understand that challenges may arise and can be overcome. Because I have seen what has happened this last three months. And if we are to learn anything, is that people DO want to help people.
We all want safety, where ever we come from. Gainsborough to Gaza, or Stoke to Syria. We all want a nice place to live for our family and friends. We are enriched by our intercultural environment, we really are. We learn and adapt, changing and evolving, all the time... Oh - And I’m missing the Portuguese cafe... all the time!
So Ipswich, your streets are mostly empty right now. And the people are indoors, but they are here and the spirit you have created is strong, And the energy I feel when I walk down Norwich Road is warm, So I think we will probably weather this storm... just fine. If you want to respond and write your own letter to Ipswich, tell Cad your story, with words photos or films - she would be interested to hear from you via email here.
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