And so the creative journey has begun. By its very nature #smile will remain, until the revelation, relatively secret. Suffice to say, I have a relentless desire to see Stockton smile again.

I remember the days of popping into Leslie Browns after a Saturday morning kids special film at The Odeon. I used to dream of those treats and love every trip into stockton from our Eaglescliffe home. i even loved going upstairs on the bus…not realising that my life expectancy decreased with every passive breath of smoke I inhaled up there. It seems sad that the same locations would now see me crawl out of Glam and into kebab heaven? Sad but not disastrous. I’m not…unlike many contemporaries in despair at the demise of Stockton high street…because I can actually see…for the first time in years a vision as to what it could be used for.

I love walking through the town early on the morning. You can see a canvas that is not apparent by mid morning. A space that could be filled with amazing things…one only has to look at the extraordinary SIRF performances to see what can be done. The pavements and buildings take on new life and the grey facades spring to life with incredible colour. So what if THIS became the focus for our town? A space where creative pioneers bring pulsating energy to spaces in need of care. LOOK at the plans and you can see the potential.

Plans for Stockton are bold, innovative and fascinating. Because if we create spaces where extraordinary things can happen…where people come together not to shop but to be, to come together and be a community then we can create something beautiful. We can shop anywhere…And we do. Our technological prowess means we can practically get same day delivery on anything we want…but is our need of town life purely dictated by what we can buy? How about what we can be?

When I see the plans for Stockton I see just that potential. We could have a town which is brimming with energy. A town where street markets are new, creative and buzzing with retail innovation; where pupils from local schools enjoy a lesson in the outdoors; where international cuisine replaces Stockton dummy sausage rolls; where extraordinary performance becomes the norm and where buskers queue up for a spot on the evening when a major band appears at the Globe. Ours can be a town where good things happen daily. Where walks to the river are accompanied by art students sketching the sculptures and pieces of public art throughout the high street zones. Ours could be the town where street trading becomes a viable trade not just for fresh fruit, veg and meats, but for arts, crafts, designer clothes, books, beauty treatments, mugs of tea..and where a street retail academy trains young and not so young entrepreneurs HOW to operate in the new spaces.

Yes, Stockton has issues. People who have problems, addictions, despair, fear, resentment. But they were all once children who looked at the world with wonder and excitement in their eyes and hearts. I want to be part of a town which can make our next generation excited and dreaming about what we can do not what we can’t.

And so, in my own way I am bringing a #smile to Stockton on march 15th. I am no expert, no artistic maestro, but I do know that you’ll find that life is more worthwhile if you just #smile.


One thought on “#smile

  1. Paul Devlin says:

    Mike this sounds truly exciting. Having not grown up around these here parts I cannot draw on my own sentimentality to inspire me to effect a change but I have certainly grown to love this quirky little borough in the North East in my 7 years of living here. On top of that, having not long added to the Stockton population with a half Paddy/half Smoggy daughter, I too would hope for future generations to be proud of the place from which they hail. Therefore, in what way I do not know, I would like to pledge my support to effecting a change in this ‘mint’ wee town

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