Common Ground


Sat in the armchair in my shed the other day enjoying the first spring sunshine pitching through the open door, I lazily picked up a copy of The Countryman from Winter 1986 sat on the old school desk and randomly flicked through the pages stopping on this passage:

“… tree preservation orders may well miss trees with important local associations – perhaps where village courting traditions took place, or the first chestnut burst into leaf in spring. Sites of special scientific interest can overlook the bluebell wood or primrose bank remembered since childhood. And what legislation would protect the brackenfield so important to a community within living memory as a source for bedding animals, reed-bed cut for thatching, or the quarry waste-tip symbolic of labour that gave character to the place we now enjoy?”Tom Greeves, The Countryman, 1986

Tom Greeves’ article goes on to describe the launch of The Common Ground Parish Maps Project – an initiative to get each parish to create maps representing the values, interests and heritage from the point of view of the people who live there.

In the cities, the primrose banks and bluebell woods can just as easily be bus-shelters where local ‘courting traditions’ took place, and nissen huts now used as garden sheds – we need to make sure they too are mapped and save them from being cruelly swept away like the brackenfields bricked over with Wimpy Homes.

Common Ground seem to still be going strong nearly 30 years later, mapping out the corners of communities often overlooked and neglected. Have a listen to this recent programme on Radio 4