Almost ten years ago now Bruce Sterling was talking about the green movement in design. Not many people were listening then, but he started Viridian and kept at it. I don’t always like his bombastic approach but I do admire him for his tenacity. Now every time you turn on the tv there is talk of the greening of America. Green burial is not design in the strict sense we’re used to, but it is a part of designing our environment responsibly and contributing to those ideals even in death. At the end of February KQED did a beautiful video segment on green burials and the effects of embalming. Their report reveals that due to our “casket consumption,” we bury more metal each year than what was used to build the Golden Gate Bridge along with 1.6 million tons of concrete that would pave a double lane highway from California to Phoenix. Wow. Each year. There’s another audio report here, on Good Dirt Radio which mentions land conservation, the legalities of home burial, and finding a green cemetery near you. Both sites contain links to green burial resources locally and around the country. Very handy stuff to bookmark. Trust me, we all will need it someday.
Cremation is also mentioned and they highlight the same spot that my friend John said I should visit, Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes. “The columbarium was designed by Julia Morgan and is open to the public. It consists of a labyrinth of little galleries and open air gardens. But the best part are the “library” rooms full of shelves full of urns shaped like books! What an amazing idea. I love sitting in rooms surrounded by books. But in these rooms, every book was a human life. While there I pondered what kind of book urn I might want to rest in. I think maybe an unassuming little volume tucked away in a corner near a cozy chair.” Another link between libraries and cemeteries. Now I know I said I like tiny spaces, but when it comes to books, I think I’d like to be the size of the OED on one of those fancy stands! How grand would that be? (Thanks John! Photo credit: KQED QUEST Flickr set)