Your Cemetery, Your Community

This site is designed to help people think critically about the role their cemetery plays in their community. Does your community care about its cemetery?

Lee Mission Cemetery

Lee Mission Cemetery- this is one of my favorite shots from cemetery visits this summer.

It’s important to emphasize that no cemetery is the same and not all of the solutions proposed here will work for every cemetery or every community.

One community might love going to a movie at the cemetery and one community might not. Try to experiment, and if you mess up, that’s okay. You might end up being surprised about how successful a movie or tour is. Even if there are some grumblings, it might simply remind people you are there as a great place to walk or visit.

Nina Simon, a storied museum professional, recently released a book titled The Art of Relevance. The theories in this book, though geared towards museums simply because of her professional expertise, are applicable to any kind of institution that wants to better interact with their local communities. Simon stresses that relevance is about making a space welcoming and useful. Cemeteries, though associated with death, don’t have to be morbid. They could be a great place for a walk, a good place to learn about history, or simply a peaceful place to reflect.

Relevance is important because when people care about an institution, they invest in its care. Maybe not monetarily at first, and maybe not even with volunteer time, but with work on the part of those who care for the cemetery, it’s possible to transform these often neglected places into important community cornerstones. We should, as cemetery enthusiasts, professionals, or volunteers, encourage their use by walkers, thinkers, and historians so that passive support turns into active support.

You, as a volunteer or interested party, will know what might best serve your community. I challenge you to see if there are better ways to get people to feel welcome at the cemetery. This website is simply a jumping-off point.