Thursday 25 December 2014

Killing off Paris Bakery a sort of creative suicide

Ross Maguire

Published 16/02/2014 | 02:30

Paris Bakery on Moore Street. Photograph: Gerry Mooney

HUMAN beings create. Without creativity we shrivel up and die.

Fish need water and birds need air, but we need to create. Creativity is our beauty; it is what makes sense of life. Whether it is the artist, the mother or the business owner – creativity is our essence.

There are scientists holed up in laboratories for decades waiting for a new understanding. Writers and poets know the pain of labour, as they bring forth something new. An athlete can devote a whole life to a second of creative inspiration.

But in that moment of creativity, humanity is made worthwhile.

All of the hopelessness and desperation is made good by a moment of creativity realised. It is what we are. Each of us, big or small, rich or poor, exists for that second when out of us comes some unique expression. That expression may pass unnoticed. But the creative moment has happened, and that is enough.

Great societies recognise and facilitate the human need to create. In the 14th Century, there was an explosion of human creativity in Italy that was to change the world forever. It was not quiet or gentle because it was born of tumult and of fire. But it was stunning – for in the midst of all the madness people gave expression to art and to ideas that have touched souls and inspired humanity for centuries. This is the bar set for us.

Ireland needs creativity and that means we need driven people. Driven people are born with emptiness. They are desperate and they are needy as they seek to fill a void that perhaps can never be filled. They are beautiful because they crave. But if we make it impossible for them, they leave or give up.

Moore Street in 2010 was a hopeless place. Somebody went there and had a vision. He went further and realised that vision. Now on Moore Street, there is a place that people can go and be inspired.

Founded in 2010, the founders of Paris Bakery's philosophy is to produce fresh and delicious food seven days a week using the best possible ingredients, at an affordable price. Located right in the centre of Moore Street, they invite you step into their created haven that is Paris Bakery.

At its essence, the Paris Bakery is creative. The founder has not just copied others but he has led and the product is something that not only he and his people can be proud of – it is something Dublin is enhanced by. Moore Street is now a destination – and thousands of people are enriched by the efforts of the bakery and its staff.

The coffee shop and cafe has been at the heart of European thought and life because it offers people a space in which they can be together. The revolutionaries and philosophers gather in such places and make the future. And this is happening on Moore Street today.

Paris Bakery is the triumph of individual creativity and tenacity over the odds. It is a quintessential case of vision – somebody walked on to Moore Street at a time when everybody else saw dilapidation and saw the best of humanity and made it happen.

This vision was rejected by the banks because banks are not creative. Banks are run by those who live off the creativity of others. Entrepreneurialism is creative and being creative it cannot be measured in numbers. Go into the Paris Bakery, and you will know that this is the stuff of vision and commitment. In truth, it is the stuff of love. And love enriches a city and makes the whole commercial thing worthwhile.

Nama owns the loans belonging to a company who own the site on which the Paris Bakery sits. That company builds glass shopping centers – soulless places populated by UK high street chains. Young Irish teenagers get jobs there as shop assistants and the profits are repatriated to Britain or wherever.

But the multiples pay more rent than the Paris Bakery could ever pay. So Nama wants to evict the Paris Bakery and in doing so, it will kill off the simple creativity that this wonderful country so badly needs. In its place will be built, if it is ever actually built, another ILAC Centre or Parnell Centre or Jervis Street Centre. There will be Starbucks and McDonalds and Vodafone, carparks and escalators – but there will be no emotion, no care, no vision, and there will be no love.

The reason why the Paris Bakery story is so important is that if it closes in June, the banks and the bond holders will have won again.

Imagine if somebody had the imagination to build on the creativity of Paris Bakery. The site is important as it is the place where the 1916 Rising took place. As a mark of respect to the spiritual foundation of this State, the representatives of the Irish people could direct that Nama make the site available, at affordable rent, to visionaries – to bakers, artists, thinkers, makers of this and that – whatever, as long as it is human and creative. It would be our salutation to our founders and this generation's recognition of our humanity.

The alternative offered by Nama is hordings for years, followed by Burger King. If we have any sense of Ireland as being beautiful it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Ross Maguire is the co-founder of New Beginning which has a vision for the future of Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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