Although mortality is humanity’s common ground, the subject of death has become taboo and the spaces of death are treated with morose reverence that often excludes them from the public realm and society’s consciousness. Cemeteries no longer function as vital urban spaces; they are Terra Mortis, dead land, set aside to memorialize our loss. However, even more disturbing than this underutilized land is the waste generated by postmortem processing. Society’s efforts to produce an illusion of permanence after death has resulted in an industry that defies, consumes and contaminates nature at the cost of public health, environmental security, urban green space and our overall spiritual well being. My project asks if we can transform cemeteries into a common, fertile ground that allows people to understand death as an integral part of life. We will begin the session with a Death Cafe in the tradition of Funeral Celebrants – be ready for Death & Donuts!
-Jennifer Lee Mills
A few independent groups in Massachusetts are trying to encourage a more positive acceptance of our mortality and how we think of and plan for death. Among them are the Green Burial Committee ( a sub-committee of the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance of Massachusetts) and Mourning Dove Studio. The documentary series Earthrise recently interviewed the two groups and their video, “Green Goodbyes,” takes us on a short tour of the limited green burial network in the state…
Earthrise: Green Goodbyes
You can also check out my own interview with Ruth Faas in the post “Mourning Dove Studios” (coming soon).