Everywhere means something to someone. You don’t have to own it, or even see it every day, for a place and its stories to be important to you. The combination of commonplace histories and ordinary nature makes places what they are. Things do not have to be spectacular, rare or endangered for people to value them and want them about their everyday lives.
‘Parish’ is offered not to define but to describe the scale at which people feel a sense of familiarity and ownership in their place: home place, your own familiar territory, the neighbourhood to which you feel a sense of belonging, the locality which ‘belongs’ to you. Many have defined their own edge, but others have used the Parish Boundary and indeed discovered much of history and nature by so doing.
Making a Parish Map can help people to come together to chart the things that they value locally, to make their voice heard amongst professionals and developers, to inform and assert their need for nature and culture on their own terms, and to begin to take action and some control in shaping the future of their place.
For visitors, a Parish Map offers a new way of looking at a place, and shows a glimpse of the vibrant life behind the obvious.
Whether you live in a town, a city or in the country, there are some things around you which are part of your daily round. Perhaps there are buildings which seem ‘at home’ in the landscape because they reflect the lives of the people who lived in the area before you – a mill, a line of houses, a quay or railway station; perhaps you enjoy a walk along lanes lined with primroses in spring, through water meadows or wild fells grazed by sheep; your walk may take you between the ducks on the canal and red brick warehouses, or through the sounds and smells of the street market to school. Wherever you are, it is the detail and overlays which have meaning to you and which give your area its own local distinctiveness.
A Parish Map demonstrates what people claim as their own locality and what they value in it – wildlife, history, work, landmarks, buildings, people, festivals. It does not have to be precise or cartographically correct, but by illustrating locally distinctive activities and features, it helps you to focus on the everyday things that make your place significant to you and different from the next. It can include the elusive responses which cannot be measured or counted and also the invisible – the stories, dialect, names and fragments of everyone’s history.
Parish Maps are a starting point for local action, they are demonstrative, subjective statements made by and for a community, exploring and showing what it cares about in its locality. They offer a way of communicating creatively and socially how rich everyday places are, and what importance seemingly ordinary things have to everyone. All kinds of people old and young, from varied cultural backgrounds, by sharing their ideas and knowledge, begin to cherish their locality more and often become involved directly in its care. Parish Maps can be made by anyone, in any way, of any place.
An essay about making Parish Maps
Artwork from the Parish Maps project
Community, place & identity