Dundee – A City Full of Optimism

dundee optimism

As someone who only recently returned to the city of Dundee a year ago, after almost 20 years living abroad, I was pleasantly surprised to find the changes that have taken place. Despite being happy about moving home and being closer to my family, I did wonder if I would find Dundee slightly lacking.

We have lived in various cities around Germany and Switzerland, and particularly the last few cities, Duesseldorf, Geneva and Munich, would be hard to beat.

In the past year, I have rediscovered the city, and found that there is so much more than the old ‘jute, jam and journalism’ theme. Not only the vibrant art scene, Dundee is home to leading new media, software and games companies.

More than that, there is a special something in the air, a feeling of excitement and anticipation. As if the whole town were an overstimulated toddler on the eve of its birthday. The closest I can remember having this feeling, was when I visited Berlin in 1990, the summer after the wall came tumbling down.

It is impossible to overstate how important the building of the V&A is to the City of Dundee. It has given us Dundonians pride in our city, and hope for the future.

Business owners are calculating the distance from the new museum site, to their shops and cafes, and trying to imagine how people will wander around the city. Hotels and B&Bs are already starting to think about how to market their establishments, and perhaps thinking of a few improvements that could be made before the expected rise in visitors.

 We accept the building work that is causing jams and frustration with (mostly) good humour, knowing that our city will be so much improved by it. When there is a new story inThe Courier about the development, it is shared on Facebook and Twitter.  We smile appreciatively as we pass the Malmaison, the newly renovated façade revealed with the dismantling of the scaffolding.

It appears that Dundee is awakening from a rather long period of hibernation.

The recent announcement that Dundee is bidding for the title of City of Culture 2017 was another sign of the city’s growth in self-confidence. The We Dundee  website explains

Dundee is bidding to be the UK City of Culture in 2017, a competition run by the UK government which uses culture and creativity to transform communities. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves what an astonishing place Dundee is, and what remarkable people live and work here.
We Dundee is a way to show the tremendous imagination and enthusiasm of people from all walks of life across the city, and demonstrate the difference that becoming UK City of Culture could make to us individually and as a city.

We Dundee wish to give the judges 2017 reasons to think of Dundee as the best place to be the City of Culture 2017, and are asking people to join in. Add your voice – tell everyone about our city. What has surprised you about Dundee, or what is it about the town that makes you want to live here.

At the time of writing, 1285 people had recorded their feelings about Dundee, so we still have a few to go till the target of 2017 is reached.

To me, it is clear that the V&A is only one part of a huge puzzle. Yes, it is central to the development, and it has given our city something to be proud of, but the new optimism is due to more than one museum or one hotel project. We Dundonians have a renewed pride in our city, and are ready to show it to the world.

What do you love about Dundee, and what are your hopes for the future of the city?

This article first appeared on our Facebook page in April 2013