As one year ends and another begins, it is often a time for reflection. To gaze back at seasons past, at achievements, at regrets, and at where it has brought us in the present. Then to look forward to times ahead, to hopes, to plans, and to where it will lead us in the future. As each person does this in our individual lives, so too do the businesses and the projects that keep a city revolving and evolving For these must evaluate too, achieve, regret, hope and plan, and continue to (r)evolve into the new year. So, now that we’re nicely into January, we’ve had a little time at Independent Life to reflect on why we do what we do…..
When IL first began, there was an over-riding inspiration that still holds true: to showcase this already brilliant city and to help to make it better for everybody. Leeds has always stood alone, gone about things in its own way, and just got on with it. Whilst this is a vital part of the character that makes up this city, it also means that by its very nature, Leeds rarely shouts about its virtues. Beyond London, most folk would name others as Britain’s second city before considering Leeds: Birmingham? Manchester? Glasgow? And that’s the way we liked it. You have to bother to find us, and when you do, you have to get it.
But as the city expanded through the last decade, with investments into shiny shopping centres and an influx of global brands, the real Leeds needed to keep its voice alive and make itself heard. As much as the growth at the top of the city was a welcome boost and a deserved acknowledgement of Leeds’ potential, the people and the places giving Leeds its life had to keep up. So we decided to talk about them: about the great cafes, pubs, restaurants, venues and events creating social hubs all over the city; about the skilled traders at the shops and markets selling their expertise for generations; about the positive communities adding immeasurably to each area; and about the array of talented makers and creators giving Leeds its undeniable energy.
Over the last few years – through the Little Black Book city guide, City Life & Local Times magazine, social media news & updates, and online listings & articles – we have continued to offer residents and visitors alike the opportunity to discover their favourite Leeds. Streets like North Street, George Street and Merrion Street, areas like Hyde Park, Meanwood and Holbeck, and buildings like Kirkgate Market and the Corn Exchange – plus many more – each have a unique feel within the city. All feed off each other’s strength in terms of offer, personality, presentation and narrative. The result is a synergy that resonates with the modern urban consumer and marks these areas as destinations.
What makes a destination is this combination of contrasting and complementing elements. Leeds is a city that is in it together, and the success of the city in attracting the likes of Sky, John Lewis and Channel 4 here, is not mutually exclusive to the celebration of the independent talent beneath. Indeed, this is not a competition, and Independent Life aims to present the city holistically; as one where First Direct Arena and Brudenell Social Club, Harvey Nichols and Accent, The Ivy and Ox Club, all thrive alongside one another. And, with so many great diverse happenings across the city at any time, one where we can help everybody find the parts that they will love.