Partnerships are a great way to do fun, innovative programming and also develop relationships with people in your community who might not otherwise think of the cemetery as a place for bird-watching, plant identification, or even star-gazing. The partnership between Lone Fir Cemetery and the Portland Actors Ensemble, and their productions of Shakespeare’s classics, is another way to provide innovative, and partnership-based programming in your space! A partnership between multiple agencies led to a successful Qing Ming Festival at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery that celebrated Chinese history and culture in Salem.
Another fun example is the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York and its
partnership with the Evergreens Cemetery New York. Each year, the cemetery hosts a star-gazing event at the cemetery. This 225-acre piece of land in Brooklyn and Queens offers stargazers a place largely free from the glare of local lighting. People get a great view of the stars and a view of the cemetery at night, not something everyone gets to see. Additionally, this event is very easy to organize and needs little preparation!
In a different kind of partnership, the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C. has partnered with The D.C./Maryland chapter of The Nature Conservancy to build environmentally conscious stormwater infrastructure on the property. The first phase of the project, completed in December of 2017, comprised of building water-retaining features in the cemetery which would help with storm runoff and pollution. The eventual plan is to increase the amount of water-retaining features so the cemetery could sell the generated credits for a profit. This partnership is a financial and aesthetic benefit to the cemetery, as they now have water-plant gardens in areas of the cemetery that were previously little-used.
All kinds of opportunities are out there for partnerships! Would a local brew pub want to partner with you on a history and beer tour? How about the local Audubon Society for a tour of local birds found in the cemetery? A partnership with local religious institution or counseling group so you could offer Death Cafés and other, conversation-based programming? Be creative and don’t be afraid to ask!