WHY THE 'PARISH'?

 

The scale of the civil parish is offered here not in a prescriptive sense, but as a useful starting point to describe the ecological scale at which people feel a sense of familiarity, ownership, belonging and a sense of place. The environmental charity Common Ground suggests that the word parish implies 'people and place together.'

The origins and other uses of the word are relevant too. For many, the word may have ecclesiastical associations, but the parish is also an area of civic concern and local democracy. Historically, the parish was the unit of government in Scotland right up until 1930 and the civil parish boundaries are still used by the Census as a way of classifying and comparing information.

The origin of the word ‘parish’ is Greek – para, ‘beside’ and oikos, ‘the household’, indicating that area that is within reach and 'close to home.' The terms ‘ecology’ and ‘economy’ also come from the same root - both concepts of large scope which suggest that the idea of the parish need not be inward-looking and bounded. William Blake invites us to ‘see the world in a grain of sand’, and in that sense, the life of the parish can refract and distil wider concerns.