July 23, 2020

How can we make a better future for Edinburgh’s Old Town?

Jean Bareham, 70

Edinburgh’s Old Town had a very particular atmosphere during lockdown. Streets were deserted, pubs and restaurants boarded up. Large quantities of flats were lying empty without tourists to fill them. To me, a tour guide, the place seemed wounded, waiting for something better. Yet the community garden in West Port was thriving, one sign that there are still residents who see the place as home. I chose to write a fictional story to show the thoughts and feelings of a fictional Old Town resident. Chrissie loves the fact that throughout its 800 years of history, the Old Town has been a place bursting with life. Then a small event chrysalises her hopes for the Old Town. She longs for a neighbourhood where families live, with children who can play with her grandchildren, where over-tourism isn’t killing the very things about the Old Town that visitors come to see and experience. My entry is trying to communicate that all cities change, there’s always dynamic processes going on. We – the politicians, the developers, the wider community – can use this pause that lockdown has given us to make positive, rather than harmful change.

Midsummer Pause, 2020