Produced by Aad as part of the Offset Transform Your City Project

This is not news.

These stories are about South William street, Dublin, but not as it is, as it might be. Because, well, why not? Because we don't do it enough. Because imagining the possibilities should come before accepting the realities. Because looking too closely at something everyday can stop us from seeing how it really is, so sometimes it's good to look at things from a very different angle.

Written by Andrew Griffin. Illustrated by Johnny Kelly.

A World Without Walls

Architecture by Johnny Kelly

I always wonder what would happen if there were no facades on streets, what if we had X-ray glasses and could see all the action and diversity behind the homogeneity of the wallpaper brick facades of Dublin. What if we could peel back the layers and years and people that lived, worked, played, laughed, cried in these rooms? Just a thin little brick wall hides all that life from the bustling city below.

South William street is a chameleon, behind the continuous brick facades, with windows almost dancing in excitement up and down the street lies a secret Dublin. Of course there are all the nice little coffee shops serving delicious little expressos, there are the amazing boutiques and bars and the quirky basements, but there is far more above and below, a Machiavellian world of intrigue. Each time I sneak into one of those hidden doors on the street it leads to another adventure, another secret world. Just beside metro cafe is an amazing David Bowie-esque labyrinthine staircase that winds and winds up, left and right with the most amazing people in Dublin tucked behind little doorways shooting off the staircases like leaves on a branch. Jewellery polishers who's faces are black from ammonia hidden behind little home made lacquered wood fortresses, oblivious to the world except their tiny machines, Cooks who are preparing the days salads for a restaurant around the corner and mad old boffins dressed head to toe in three piece pin stripped suits sipping manhattan's at three in the day who have lived there, half in their apartments and half in the landings for decades, surrounded by plants, books and jazz. Basements linking to back yards that are like overgrown secret gardens, full of luscious wildflowers. Terraces and roof tops that have uninterrupted views of these city where people have made little makeshift allotments, gardens and bird houses for themselves.

I always wondered what else could be there, what lies behind those secret doors, what other magical places exist?

I have one last piece of advice, next time your walking through Dublin, through South William street, don't stare blankly ahead - but look up, look at the beauty of the buildings around you and daydream for a moment.

Written by Róise Goan. Illustrated by Vera Reshto.

This Art Really Ties The Place Together

Art by Vera Reshto

Friday, 30 September 2016.

Yesterday saw the celebration of the third consecutive harvest from The South William Street Partnership rooftop farms. To mark the occasion, a group of young songwriters and visiting artist PJ Harvey occupied the Grogan's Bandstand; sharing new material written at the Artist Residence at the nearby Irish Georgian Society. As the sun set, and the light began to change, a remarkable procession of torch bearers passed along the grassy centre path of the street, lush since the street was closed to cars some years ago. Towards the bandstand; the latest street marking art project, prototyped on nearby Clarendon street some years earlier and since expanded into an ongoing project featuring established and emerging artists led the way. Relaxed drinkers, sitting outside the scattering of pubs, watched the procession while continuing their conversations in murmured tones. Nearby restaurants passed around plates of food, directly harvested from the rooftops as a crowd began to assemble under the shadow of the Giant Facade Murals by the Street art co-op at numbers 29-31.

The crowd applauded loudly at the end of the music set, as the Mayor took to the stage. She thanked the musicians and the rooftop farmers and briefly recounted the historic journey to the establishment of the South William Street Partnership. The crossdepartmental pilot project initiated by the departments of Arts, Health, Environment, Jobs and Innovation and Education through Dublin City Council had made a great positive impact. Stimulating the already flourishing creative industries and supporting local arts infrastructure and programming. Providing professional training and apprenticeships in food, fashion, design and arts practice to school leavers and long-term unemployed people. And most radically integrating with these initiatives a suite of residential long term drug treatment and recovery programmes.

She explained that the partnership had created jobs, increased tax revenues, a massive reduction in vandalism and street violence to an attentive audience, but it was only when she introduced the community choir that a true silence fell on the crowd.

Made up of local business owners and workers, resident artists, trainees and service users, the choir were costumed in neon accents by resident designers at the recently expanded fashion co-op and led by musical directors from the studio (later enquiries determined that their sharp moves were aided by the resident choreographer). They sang two new songs, the second of which had the gathered crowd participate in joyous refrain. The applause was rapturous.

Produce from the Rooftop Farms can be purchased at the weekly Friday SWSP food and craft market. Performances on the bandstand at 1pm and 6pm daily.

Written by Jonathan Legge. Illustrated by Seán Mongey.

The Little Things Add Up To A Lot

Business by Seán Mongey

Getting busy, trading goods and services, that is what business is about and it is why cities exist. Dublin, Dyflin, was a Viking trading post, the men form the north settled here to trade and start businesses, they didn't settle here for a simple life on the banks of the Poddle, though that will always be part of the appeal.

Looking back over recent years it is funny seeing how foolish we were and maybe still are to think e-commerce was some sort of retail panacea. It has created enormous changes, helped in credible growth but contrary to popular belief, online is limiting. Limiting in the best possible way, limiting because of who we are and what I believe to be our better nature. We are all human, and as much as the digital world that has grownup around us has created a step-change in our way of being, we are still tactile animals. We are animals that still like to touch, feel and smell. We want to hold things not just look at them. We are haptic creatures and seek real experiences. Human nature needs, or rather deserves, a physical platform, a street. This is not to underplay the importance and amazing advances that have been made in our burgeoning virtual world. Digital activities are now an essential part of our daily lives. The world has been opened to all; online brings speed and convenience, services we had never before imagined and cats that make us cry with laughter. The virtual is important but turn off the power and it is gone, it is invisible, yet the city street will remain.

The city street is the home of good, small, honest business. Not a filtered rose-tinted view of home, but a real home with problems and people. It is where it all began. It is where people got busy and got to business. At its best it is an intimate space, full of depth and activity.

Homepages are not homes. Google may now own a company that can monitor your homes temperature and gently warn you of carbon monoxide issues - smart technology that very soon will probably do a whole lot more. But smart and detached is only smart in theory. Theories are born on assumptions and we all know how right they can be. A home is a physical thing tangible to our basic needs. Homes need real care and attention, wear and tear is part of the charm but neglect is not. An infatuation with our new virtual world has lead to neglect, perspective is needed and businesses need to embrace their home and our better nature. It is about an approach to space, to place, to the street. It is about common sense and the basic idea of pride in ones surroundings, ones home. It is about being neighbourly and taking care of your patch and its peripheries. It is about a fresh coat of paint, windows squeaky clean, signage hung with pride, steps brushed and scrubbed. It is about streets in ordered disorder. It is about trees, and paving, benches and bins, doorways and windows, a human approach to commerce, incorporating raw, genuine qualities that bring meaning and depth to daily life.

Little things, maybe nothing but everything really. It is these little details that all too often get ignored, menial stuff, unimportant fools say, but details that together are the making of place, a shop, a business, a street, a city.

The scale of a city and all its streets can be somewhat overwhelming but if one starts by taking care of the little things big differences can be made. Quality of life improves and with it the economic vibrancy that is pretty much key to a city's reason for being.

Written by Jennie McGinn. Illustrated by Mike Ahern.

The ghosts of fashion past, the ghosts of fashion future

Fashion by Mike Aherne

South William Street buzzes with a kinetic fashion energy, from the independent boutiques, to the languorous fashion students, showcasing their wares on the steps of the Powerscourt Centre. Do all these cutting-edge club-kids know they are part of a much longer narrative that dates back to the 1940's when South William Street was the beating heart of the Dublin garment trade? Behind the current amorphous landscape of pop-up eateries, hair-salons, offices and shop-fronts, lies a steep history of pattern cutting, wholesaling and fabric manufacture.

Some may lament this passing and although the façade is undeniably different, the beating heart of South William Street fashion has remained the same. This new streetscape lays claim to some of Ireland's most pioneering fashion entities. Fashion now exists at the intersection between experience and technology. Behind those office doors are many creators contributing to the growing art of fashion-technology. You have the thinkers, the creators, the stylists, the writers, the promoters—fashion doesn't fit into neat little blocks anymore—it is part of a much bigger fabric of intersecting skills, ideas and practices.

What I feel South William Street could offer is a Fashion Exchange. An entire building dedicated to a contemporary fashion discussion. On the ground floor is a digital museum…with access to the history of Irish fashion, but also a gallery of contemporary Irish design with space to project 3d catwalk shows and holographic catalogues of design collections from Danielle Romeril, Simone Rocha, Emma Manley, J.W Anderson, Ailis Mara and the many more supremely talented designers emerging. Above that, we need a dedicated space for a fashion conversation. A drop-in space, where stylists, writers, graphic designers, promoters, photographers and agents can dynamically interact—fashion is now a truly collaborative process and the army of talented fashion industry people need a space where they can let ideas grow, develop, collide and intersect. Technology has accelerated this new way of working, but a physical space needs to be provided to turn some of these ideas into reality.

We need a dedicated space, an independent space, an inclusive space, a creative space—a space that showcases and platforms the new generation of fashion makers—a space where the émigrés can come home and feel proud — a space that reflects our traditional history and our digital future. And it wouldn't work anywhere else but South William Street.

Written by Mr & Mrs Stevens. Illustrated by Fatti Burke.

This Epicurean Brigadoon

Food by Fatti Burke

Sometimes if you squint just right, just hard enough, you can induce the mirage. Sometimes it comes unbidden, like when you are footing it down South William St and it hoves into view. Towards the end of the drag, just beyond the ball-gag and back-scratcher place, not quite where that chi-chi wine bar used to be. It shimmers into being as you draw close and demands the attention of whatever senses you heed. It appears to be a restaurant. It is in fact the last restaurant you will ever need or want. You know this to be a place that you can use. In the grey mornings you are drawn in by the caffeinated chatter of the bean-counters and the coffee drips and you want to join them stooped around the belch and hiss of the machine, all warm chrome and highly-designed purpose. You could get a hot cup of something worth drinking, a yielding sweet if you need it or maybe a couple of slices of fuck-salty bacon squeezed between bread that somebody with a name baked recently. You can take this with you to wherever it is that you go to daily, to do whatever it is that you do to feed yourself.

The weekend brunch in this place is more than an excuse to drink vodka at midday, if you feel that you need one. You've got a mix of breeders and feeders, good eggs every which way and some staff who value their tips and save the attitude for after-hours. There is horseradish-heat in your Bloody Mary and a text-book béarnaise on the Benedict, a couple of hot, sweet shots and you're ready for that walk in the park you didn't think you would agree to. Try not to think of the place too hard while you talk about the nature of things with your he or she, or whatever.

It's a different beast at night, this place and it changes, as is natural, with the seasons. The room in Winter throbs gently with the hum of contented punters, each one an occasional regular as they push the chill out with long, slow braises of cuts from cared-for animals, forking tines of savoury strands through turbid, rich reductions.

That killer creme brùlée would be the civilised way to finish it, or you could tarry over a plate of serious cheeses from that German woman who makes Cavan worthwhile. Well chosen clarets from the guys around the corner on Chatham St will probably decide it. Ease yourself into the reverie and you can imagine Summer dusks built around the brine of cold, clean native oysters, a bit of fished-for fish, on the bone, just off the hook.

It might occur to you that such dreams are not made of subway tiles and Edison bulbs. They are realised by people with fire in their bellies who know how to apply heat to food and patronised by individuals who like to eat. This is a measure, this epicurean Brigadoon, we just need to squint harder.

Written by James Kelleher. Illustrated by Fergal Brennan.

A Decade On South William St 2030 — 2040

Life by Fergal Brennan

We take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Galactic Chancellor James Kelleher...

It's hard to believe now, but our beloved South William Street was not always the jewel in the crown of Nova Dublin that we know today. Some of you, like me, are old enough to remember the street as it looked half a century ago. The Event cast a long shadow across everything. What had seemed like a cataclysm at first—the cleaving of Nova Dublin from the eastern seaboard—insulated our island city from the worst ravages of the real cataclysm to come. Fast forward to 2030; the world was still licking its wounds from The Event and the four years of bitter conflict that followed.

In the Spring of that year, the Enclave Unity Junta established their headquarters in The HydeOWT, by any measure the most secure building in Nova Dublin. This accelerated the dangerous work of laser-mine clearance on South William Street and one by one, from south to north, the scarred buildings returned to some semblance of life.

Inevitably, the first business to return to the street was a robot brothel—at that point a legal, Federation-subsidised enterprise — called MZ Fanntzha's. MZ Fanntzha herself, a G-501 Series Madam, recognised the barracks across the street as a formidable commercial opportunity and so it proved to be. Trade was brisk. On ButcherBowl weekends one could look out across the Coppinger Abyss and see queues of visibly excited humanoids stretching all the way down to the front door of Growgns.

Growgns, despite the looting of its extensive art collection in the weeks after The Event, was then as it is now: a fine place to enjoy the company of friends or lovers over a pint of piping hot Ginniz. Speaking as someone who's eaten hundreds of them over the years, I can assure you that the toasted mancheese sandwiches tasted as good then as they do today!

The PwrzCort Mutant Aviary of the thirties was not at that time the picturesque and wholesome family attraction that we hold so close to our hearts. The PMA was set up in 2032 as a temporary bird gaol for the dozen or so giant raptors that were known to feast on the Pope's deer in Stephen's Green. It was a treat to witness those magnificent creatures at feeding time, held aloft on 20ft drunk-tank pink wings, flashing talons soaked in lion blood, but it was a decidedly risky treat.

Safety procedures were non-existent. Visitors and keepers often suffered from weird epigenetic anomalies like beak-rot and tiny hands syndrome.

58 South William Street was home to The Geyorgan Soseytee at this time, a secretive numerological cult who were known to worship multiples of three. They were volatile and prone to grand, mysterious gestures. In 2037 they razed the existing structure and built a 93-storey ziggurat of fractal concrete and e-timber, at that point the tallest ziggurat in the city. Their frustration with the fact of their address made their daily incursions into the neighbouring terrace with poisonous snakes a tiresome, occasionally lethal, fact of life for the Ecuadorian embassy staff next door.

As a young man, I took it for granted that some bits of South William Street would be with us forever: the stoat mines; the Alan Shatter Wax Museum; Plasma Dave's; The Shart Shack; Freak Out Records. But they are gone now, victims of changing fashions and aspirations, leaving only fragile memories in their stead. We mourn them as proxies for our own impermanence. For now though, dear friends, we must hold our heads high and raise our glasses higher, to the Junta and to South William Street: always changing, always the same.

Written by Laura O'Connell. Illustrated by Gavin Beattie.

This Love Business

Love by Gav Beattie

It's hard to look anywhere these days without exposure to 'the Big One'. I'm talking about Love. Capital 'L'. It's in ads, it's on TV, and it's in songs. Hell, it's pretty much set up camp on the World Wide Web, and I reckon if you just listen out for it, it'll be in practically every conversation you dare to eavesdrop on. While sitting in a well-known créperie on South William Street recently, waiting for my Saturday pancakes, I overheard a conversation between two girls behind me in the queue. It went something like this: "Yah, I mean I totes thought he was a babe in person but I had actually, loike, noped him last week. Morto."

'Noped' him? The phrase stuck in my head all morning. Surely I wasn't that out-of-the-loop with the twenty-somethings that a new term had bullied its way into the vernacular without my knowing? After asking a friend about it, I was even more befuddled to find out that it wasn't just a word, it was a whole new world going on that I was blissfully unaware of. This world, my friend, is 'Tinder'.

The general gist is that you download an app onto your phone, enter in some details and a couple of selfies (enter trendy new word here) and you're on your way to 'nope-ing'. A potential partner's photo comes up on your screen and you literally swipe them aside by stamping a bold red 'nope' onto their face if they don't catch your fancy. Alternatively, you can swipe the other way to 'Like' them - but this part wasn't nearly as interesting. After talking to some friends and getting up to date (pardon the pun) with this new craze, I stumbled across a fascinating story of a twenty-five year old girl advertising herself as a "spectacularly pretty girl (who is) looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year". In her post on Craigslist, she describes herself as a very attractive investment and outlines her proposal to marriage as somewhat of a business deal. She writes: "(What are the) Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows—lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?"

Yikes. I'll be honest, I'm newly single and I've got to say: I. Am. Terrified. I remember in my early twenties there were sniggers about on-line dating and even humorous anecdotes about friends who had braved speed dating for the craic. But this new "Execu-dating" (for want of a better word) has completely blindsided me. I feel I need to contact Sir Alan Sugar and have him wing-man for me on my next date. Alan and I can send the poor guy out after our meal so that we can discuss his pros and cons before ushering him back in and promptly informing him that he is, in fact, fired.

When did all the panic set in? I could argue that because we are all becoming more lax when it comes to settling down that weddings are happening later and later. Newsflash though- women's bodies are still the same. Our body clocks are still ticking and Mother Nature is still an archaic old crone. Hence the unease as we hurtle toward our early thirties. One could also point out that the world has simply gotten faster, closer and therefore more cut-throat. We don't have time for pussyfooting about, we are the generation of "Sh*t or get off the pot."

In reality though, none of this matters. The thing I'm trying to point out is that I miss the 'Love' part. In the midst of all of this madness, it seems to have become forgotten about somewhere between 'Good Prospects' and 'Suitable Match'. I feel as though we've created an industry in the place of one of life's blessings. I know it's corny, but in the words of the Black Eyed Peas- c'mon people-, where is the love?

So here I am, single, shaky and unprepared. But despite the current craziness, I'm just going to don my casual attire, dust myself down and head out into the dating industry like a good old romantic and who knows, I may even find love.

Written by Stephen Donnelly T.D. for Wicklow & East Carlow. Illustrated by Mark Wickham.

5 Things The Dáil Could Learn From South William Street

Politics by Mark Wickham

There are 495 meters between Dáil Éireann and South William Street. Less than half a kilometer, but poles, and decades,apart. Having spent plenty of time in both places, I can state with confidence that there are a few things Kildare Street could learn from its hipper cousin. Here are five.

1—More Women
Over half the Irish population is female. Wander down South William Street, walk into any bar, shop or café, and take a look. There they'll be, the state of them, all equal in numbers to the men. Now stroll over to the Oireachtas, and peek into the Dáil Chamber. 26 women, 140 men (if we all turned up). Less than one in six parliamentarians in Ireland are female, and it's getting worse. We're 88th in the world. 88th! We're behind Afghanistan by a country mile. There's lots to say, but the short version is this: It's wrong, it's bad for the country, it needs to get sorted.

2—Better Art
Both Dáil éireann and Grogan's Castle Lounge are celebrated Irish institutions. Both serve pints to a colourful clientele, but one has far superior artwork on the walls. Traipse through Dáil éireann and you'll see staid portraits of former Taoisigh, more staid portraits of Ceann Comhairle, and a massive Countess Markievicz. From my seat in the Dáil Chamber, through the glass of one door and across an atrium, I can see Charlie Haughey, sitting in a blue suit, his hands folded, scowling down at me. It's awful. Grogan's, on the other hand, has a more eclectic mix. The quality may sometimes be questionable (let's be honest), but it's always lively and provocative. And you're not being stared at by Haughey.

3—Tastier Coffee
Politicians work long hours and meet an awful lot of people, so coffee is an essential tool of the trade. Thanks to the tutelage of George the Greek in Camden Town, I became a coffee snob in my late twenties. While there's much, much worse out there, all coffee in the Dáil comes at the press of a button. And then there's South William Street — Clement and Pekoe, Taste Food, Busyfeet & CoCo, the Metro Café, Butler's, and on and on. Coffee heaven. 'Nuff said.

4—Stronger Synergy Between New & Old
South William Street is home to Powerscourt Town House, Old Dublin Historical Society, Irish Georgian Society and the Dublin Civic Museum (where you used to be able to see Nelson's head from Nelson's column... maybe you still can). And alongside this history there's a thriving present too — contemporary bars and restaurants and exciting new businesses. On South William Street the new and the old work together to create something better than either could do alone. In the Dáil, tradition reigns supreme. New ways of doing business are seen as threats to the status quo. Within the institution, Governments looks keenly to the past. History is crucial and tradition has its value, but on their own they can be very stale indeed. Mixed in with new ideas, and new people, they would help to invigorate our parliament and could serve our beautiful country very well.

5—Superior Political Discourse
Ever quizzed a member of Government in the Dáil? If not, don't worry, you're not missing much. Ireland is reckoned to have the most centralised system of Government in the democratic world. In many ways the Dáil is an illusion of parliamentary democracy. Our national parliament should be a hotbed of political discourse—of ideas and oratory. Sadly, it's no such thing. Scripts are read, questions are ignored and TDs make speeches to an empty room.