'What if Rapunzel was black with a shaved head?'
It was through this thought that I came up with the subverted versions of popular fairy tale characters who lived in this hidden and fantastical part of London, Folkshore. Finding Folkshore is my ode to London and the diverse
communities I grew up in.
I lived in Camberwell; was always in Peckham and my secondary school was close to Brixton. I have since moved away, but I come back frequently and I see how much has changed in these areas, which some tagged as 'unsavoury' back in the day. As an adult, I can’t afford to live in the area I grew up in.
In a similar way, Finding Folkshore is a story about a hidden community filled with ethnic minorities being forced out of their homes and the place they built. It's a story of the physical and mental impact displacement can have on these diverse communities.
Folkshore is located at the end of the Victoria line — one stop after Brixton in fact. When I was writing Finding Folkshore, I was influenced by the Windrush generation and the more recent Windrush scandal. Many from the Windrush generation were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights because of the UK's immigration policy. Decades before, they were called to Britain to help rebuild the nation, which they did, but many were later
deported because of lack of documentation to prove their right to remain. In Finding Folkshore, many left London for Folkshore because it was a more welcoming community. Red Riding Hood's grandma, Patsy, came to London in the 60s as part of the Windrush generation.
Folkshore is going through regeneration plans which I based on south London's well-known Aylesbury Estate, and its own 20-year redevelopment scheme by the council. The regeneration plans, similar to the one in Folkshore, is to demolish all the flats, replacing them with council and private housing. Hundreds of people from Aylesbury Estate have already been displaced. In Folkshore, one of the areas scheduled for demolition is the 'Undercroft', a skate park, which I based on the popular skate park in South Bank. With the regeneration scheme, multiple communities, from those who built Folkshore and the younger generation, are affected by these plans. Patsy states in reference to Folkshore: "When the people are good, then the environment is blessed, and it's like God is smiling down at us."
When it comes to gentrification, I believe that it all starts with the people and that's the message I wanted to get across in the book. Once the wellbeing of the people is prioritised, everything else feeds into this. The climate drastically changes in Folkshore because of what is being done to the community: death and displacement. One of the main activists in the book, Rapunzel, says: "They’re either trying to get rid of us or restrict us, but they never let us be us." It's important for us to care for the communities around London, embracing them in change rather than eradicating them.
In Finding Folkshore, the police are literal pigs. A corrupt police pig attacks three Black characters during an unsanctioned questioning in order to extract information from them, which led to some Folkshorians protesting against the police. After the 2011 England riots, which was sparked off by the death of Mark Duggan, David Cameron delivered a speech from Downing Street. In Finding Folkshore, the speech from one of the council members mimics Cameron's speech. The council member 'condemns' the protest and the 'astonishing acts of violence towards the police'. He also states that it's a 'violation and separation form order' and 'investigations will commence soon into those involved in the barbaric movement.'
I have also sprinkled in other touches of London, such as Folkshore's market, which is based on East Street Market in south London. East Street Market is one of the busiest, oldest, and largest markets in London, selling anything from fresh candy floss to an assortment of African foods; it is a place I frequented most Saturdays with my mother.
Finding Folkshore by Rachel Faturoti is published by Jacaranda Books