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A Good Death

We can all work together towards holding the police to account in achieving this. Politicians need to get a grip. This is not a party political issue; this is—quite literally—a life and death issue. It is bigger than just the London Mayor, it is not just about police cuts or a Home Secretary issue. The current state of affairs is so grave that we cannot afford to engage in the luxury of debating inconclusive analysis relating to the precise impact of the recent changes to the use of stop and search.

And I fear we have reached the point where we have to choose between the potential further deterioration of relations between young black boys and the Metropolitan Police on the one hand, and a few more sons still breathing on the other. Of course, there are multiple issues contributing to this crisis. High youth unemployment, in particular amongst young black people, is adding fuel to the fire, combined with high and questionable exclusion rates from schools; in part a consequence of disaffection with authorities, and criminalisation early on.

The instant gratification gained with easy money from the drug trade, amplified through social media bragging, has only exacerbated the core issues facing communities which have been long neglected; the lack of male role models, absent fathers and cuts to resources for the young across London. It also seems likely that the Metropolitan Police have simply failed to get a grip on the situation, and—as Lammy has also said—that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister are failing to act.

No one seems to want to show leadership as every morning we wake up to news of another violent death. He is right. He said that two weeks ago, 26 people had been killed in London then; that figure has since doubled. For shame. As a lawyer, I am always of the view that knee-jerk legislation is never a good idea. But all options must be on the table: the situation on the ground is a genuine emergency and real action desperately needed.

If this sounds hyperbolic, let me give you an unremarkable example. In February of this year, Sadiq Aadam and another young man were senselessly murdered in Camden. Both were 20 years old. Retaliation hours after also took another young life. I can already hear the howls of disagreement.

Enough of this bloodshed and loss of so much young life; I want my nephew to live his best life. We need to wake up. Forgotten password? We'll even send you our e-book— Writing with punch —with some of the finest writing from the Prospect archive, at no extra cost! Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information. Click to learn more about these interests and how we use your data. You will be able to object to this processing on the next page and in all our communications.

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A short piece on the “accidental death” of young black Londoner Rashan Charles | openDemocracy

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And in this way, the new development lays claim to the things it has destroyed, and eats their ghosts. Entering into this noxious landscape is Crystal Bennes : writer, researcher, and the curator of Development Aesthetics —a popular and acerbic Tumblr blog that has accumulated countless examples of such sugary marketing around new developments. The images share many parallels with Reddit and Facebook communities Boring Dystopia and Shit London , while replacing their particular and drab muck with the schmaltzy stories sold to potential investors by architectural marketing firms.

Welbeck Street, London. Eamonn Canniffe via Development Aesthetics. In what ways is it a single, consistent visual style? I started the Tumblr back in January Between and , I lived in London. I lived all over the city, but I think around I moved to east London. By consequence construction hoardings were particularly prominent in that part of town and I found myself getting increasingly enraged by them.

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They definitely had a weird effect on me. It was like living with an out-of-control tomcat who insisted on spraying every corner in sight, only this tomcat marked territory with asinine hoardings rather than cat piss. In the end, I realised that I needed some way to channel the irritation before I lost my shit and hence Development Aesthetics was born. So where does this come from, and who is it being sold to? In terms of the delusion, I mean you have two sides to the equation.

How to talk like a REAL Londoner

I think the question of audience is super crucial. Most developers are pretty savvy when it comes to market research—they know their target demographic and they know how to speak to them. What seems cringe-worthy or insensitive to me is hardly likely to chime similarly with a prospective buyer. I think we actually became interested in hoardings around the exact same time. I take the hoardings at their word as true depictions of a reality and then try to draw out the equally-real social and political issues which underpin each hoarding, each development.

I never think about the hoardings as representations of some kind of utopia.


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As much as possible, I always try to root the hoarding in its very particular, very real local context. Part of the reason why I post relatively infrequently these days is because it takes me so long to research and write up something on each development behind the hoardings. I read planning applications and local authority committee minutes and local blogs. I try to find out how much the developer paid the council in lieu of providing affordable housing. I try to find out how much the new developer paid for the site after the last one went bust.

Do you have a favourite example of development aesthetics—the best of the worst? I love this whole series for Greenwich Peninsula. Go West, young man! Absolutely indecent. They were probably trying to target youngish bankers who might otherwise buy in West London. And so you end up with this first-rate idiocy, advertising for early adopters masquerading as historical pastiche.


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Sometimes I have no idea how they come up with this stuff. In terms of tropes, one of my favourite things to do is to follow the lifecycle of hoardings over the different phases of a development.

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Is that fair to say? Yes, exactly. Hoardings are just a kind of set dressing hiding a whole host of much more serious problems related to urban development—affordability, availability, land banking, planning corruption or ineptitude, etc.