You know when you have an idea, and you want to hold it close, but then you realize that it would need so much community and financial support to make happen that withholding it until you have the resources to pull it off is just ridiculous. This is an idea like, that and one that I want to be a part of designing and creating before I die.
The Vision: A collective purchase of land that is sectioned off to be a wilderness preservation site, a natural/green burial ground, a hospice center for people so they do not have to die on opiates in hospitals. It would also be an outdoor sculpture garden with cabins for visitors.
This vision is about giving back, regeneration, and creating final experiences for people so they don’t have to die and have their bodies processed in a way that is not in line with their values. I believe the collective purchasing model or a foundation purchase would help make this possible, and repeatable in various areas of the world.
Wilderness Burial Grounds are not new concepts, but they are regaining popularity for ecological, psychological, and spiritual reasons. I’m connected to the White Eagle wilderness burial grounds and I recently heard about Herland as well. These locations are inspiring and examples of models that work and are close examples of this vision. It’s so important that we investigate why our current death practices are the way they are and redesign them to be healthier for heart, the planet, and families. Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul by Stephen Jenkinson is a gem of a book about death in general including a historical look into some cultural elements that are missing for the human communities for the first time in thousands of years. Personally, I feel that after all of the earth’s resources that it takes to sustain my life, the least I can do is give my body back to the earth so it may feed new life. I’d prefer to do this without being pumped full of preservatives and without eleborate casings to keep me from quickly decomposing. Decomposing naturally and non toxically is accepting that we die, which is something our culture is trying to deny on many levels with current death practices.
Wilderness Burial Grounds are also places where my remaining loved ones can find where my bones are, and realize that they are connected to a place, a spirit, an existence because their ancestors are. I do not want to be connected with in a linear, square, field of ego stones and fake flowers, and I know that others feel the same way. As more family and friends and individuals start facing and honoring death as a part of life, I foresee the rise of natural/green burial grounds and country hospice centers.
Where do you want to die?
Another component of this vision is a hospice center that allows people to pass away in an environment they would prefer rather than in hospitals and urban care centers. Maybe I wouldn’t care then, but now I know I would like to die leaning against an oak tree or in one of my canvas tents with sunshine and dappled leaves shining through the creamy walls.
Creating intentional hospice centers for final experiences allows the dying to experience their death and not be drugged out of it. I imagine hospice centers with clear declarations: their intentions are not to sedate the dying with drugs and capitalize financially on this process. I believe people want this, even if they don’t value their death experience at this moment.
As I understand more about death and dying, I realize that so much of it is about the family and the grief process. I would like to see an outdoor art installation area that serves as a completive space for the dying and their families. I see that space as a way to connect with the unconscious using art and symbol to help people see a broader perspective in their grief and suffering. I see the installations as thematically intentional and designed with interactive spaces, such as art forms that allow someone to mediate or lay down and look at the stars. Ideally, I would love some of this art to have ecologically regenerative elements, such as art that encourages plant growth, or deals with the themes of decomposition in a beautiful way. That is what this is about, creating soulful beauty around our decomposition and regeneration on this stunning earth.
Here is some outdoor sculpture garden inspiration: http://www.sculptureinthewild.com/home.html
If you are interested in connecting about this idea, please reach out. This dream requires a community to put into action. Chelsea@ecocreativestrategies.com