design thinking initiatives for a better urban life
The film I will be presenting, Dive! Living Off America’s Waste, is actually about food waste in the US, as documented by an LA dumpster diver. The presentation slides below pull out the shocking statistics regarding the enormous waste of our food industry. The video relates to my larger research regarding the funeral industry in Massachusetts in that the narrator attempts to enact change at various points in the process from production to consumption to waste. My current efforts to map the network of postmortem processes in Massachusetts follows a similar logic – explore a variety of scales and points in the network to see where the most effective place for intervention is.
As a follow up I will present The American Way of Death, by Jessica Mitford. Written in 1963, this book is an expose of the inherent corruption in the funeral industry at that time. Many of the groups I am currently networking with, including the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance and Mourning Dove Studios, were established in reaction to Mitford’s research. She outlines with statistics, personal investigation and anecdotes the process by which funeral directors take advantage of grieving families to maximize profits. Mitford explains how funeral homes have formed monopolies against change by establishing relationships with casket manufacturers and cemeteries that guarantee the industry will work together to ensure their own financial success at the cost of the average consumer. Now consumer alliances have formed in many states to help people navigate the industry and protect their rights by providing information on burial laws and consumer friendly funeral homes. These organizations are currently leading the way towards more environmentally friendly burial options as well.