SATURDAY June 8, 2019, 3:30-5:30
The Future of the Funeral: A Talk with Designer Katrina Spade, Green-Wood Cemetery’s crematory chapel. Gas-fueled cremations and burials in cemetery soil will not forever remain the only ways we care for our dead. So how might deceased people’s bodies be attended to, honored, and better utilized in the future? Join death educator Amy Cunningham and Katrina Spade, the designer/entrepreneur behind the Recompose project, in a fascinating conversation involving how nature’s principles might be harnessed to more efficiently return deceased people’s bodies to the earth, sequestering carbon and improving soil health.
Katrina Spade invented a system to transform the dead into soil while earning her Masters of Architecture at the UMass Amherst. After years of disciplined body farm research to test the concept, Spade’s Recompose project won the approving nod of Washington state’s legislature this past April. A bill to fully legalize the method is now headed for the governor’s desk.
Tuesday, July 9, 7-8:30 pm
Green-Wood Cemetery’s Death Café is inspired by the centuries-old European salon (or café), an informal gathering to discuss philosophical, political or scientific ideas. In 2011, British entrepreneur Jon Underwood brought this concept to discussions of the most universal topic of all: death. Underwood’s intention was to provide an opportunity to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their lives.” Today, there are over 4,400 Death Cafes in 26 countries around the world. Green-Wood is proud to host these a Death Cafe gatherings every other month in the beautiful, modern chapel. It’s an opportunity for safe and open exchanges, without an agenda. Amy will moderate. Tea and light snacks are provided.
“A place for people to discuss our inevitable fate.” – Gothamist
Sunday, july 21, 2019 12-3 pM
Green Death Salon: A Natural Take on the Death Positivity Movement, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia. Our deaths, like taxes, are inevitable. In this "Green Death Salon," Amy and other leaders of the green burial movement will discuss not only cultural understandings of death, but also how our traditional funerary preparations affect dead bodies and the planet. Amy will outline what makes a "green" burial green, and contextualize why these practices are gaining traction with a lot of people. Afterword, tour "Nature's Sanctuary," one of the only certified green burial sites in the region, with family services representative Michele Meckler, and funeral director Patricia Quigley to discuss West Laurel Hill Cemetery’s take on green funerals, which includes forgoing embalming, skipping concrete vaults, rethinking burial containers and protecting natural habitat.
Saturday, July 27, 2019 3:30 PM
An Affectionate History of Burial Garments, Green-Wood Cemetery’s crematory chapel. The rule of simplicity that works so well in life also works great after death. Many families are now opting for burial shrouds instead of caskets to bury loved ones, asserting greater creative control over the aesthetics of the traditional American funeral. Join death educator Amy Cunningham for an engaging discussion of how shrouds and garments have been used for over a millennia in cultures across the globe. She’ll also explore present-day, eco-friendly shroud making, including the work of several clever designers who hope we’ll start taking our final outfits as seriously as we select what we don every day.
“Those of you who are worn out and crushed by this mourning, let your hearts consider this:
This is the path that has existed from the time of creation and will exist forever, many have drunk from it and many will yet drink. As was the first meal, so shall be the last. May the master of comfort comfort you. Blessed are those who comfort the mourners.”