Thoughts for Thursday: Cemetery Image Problems

Today’s Thoughts for Thursday is on cemetery image problems, and no I don’t mean problems with pictures that you take in a cemetery.

Do you know of cemeteries plagued by vandalism, illegal dumping, theft, or worse?  I’m sure that for many of you, the answer is yes.

There is a cemetery not too far away from where I live that has dealt with all of these issues in recent weeks.  As I enjoy this cemetery, and respect those that run it, I am not going to say the name of this particular cemetery or give its location, but suffice to say, this place has a big image problem right now.

Like many landlocked, older cemeteries, most of the plots have been purchased, and new land acquisition just isn’t going to happen.  So money really isn’t coming in, making camera surveillance to track vandalism and other goings-on too costly an option for this largish-for-here cemetery (25,000 burials).  The purchase of a gate at the cemetery’s expense, which some local residents are calling for in light of recent events, is also too costly.  The cemetery has never had a gate, and even if there were a gate, it would only deter some negative activities because it would only prevent vehicles from getting in.

Being a larger cemetery, there are many trees (some older), paved roads, dirt roads, and many pretty gravestones.  I feel there is a lot of potential here.

How would you convince the cemetery’s neighbors and the rest of the general public that the cemetery isn’t a bad place, that it’s just experiencing a rough patch because of the actions of outside individuals, and that it is a place worth helping out and investing in?

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

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7 Responses to Thoughts for Thursday: Cemetery Image Problems

  1. ljellis2000 says:

    You may wish to consider starting a “Friends of” cemetery committee. Here is a link:

    http://www.ogs.org/research/art_cempressociety.php

    • It’s definitely an avenue to look into. Each town/city in RI is working towards having a commission for their cemeteries, and this locale has one. On one hand, I think it’s good to be tied to the area’s governing body, but on the other hand because there is no 501c3 attached, these historic places can lose out. At it is, this particular cemetery operates as a 501c13 and the board seems like it could be an easy group to start a Friends group if that’s how they decide to go. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. trippybeth says:

    A local cemetery here has benefitted from a “friends of” society, they’ve really cleaned up the cemetery, vandalism has stopped and they’ve even gotten a grant to replace a pond that was original to the cemetery. Just need to find like-minded folk! I’d totally be on board if I were in your area!

    • That sounds like a great success story! A “friends of” group I think would benefit this cemetery, I think it could work with a little bit of politicking being that this particular cemetery is still minimally active and has a board. A nonprofit friends group (501c3 as opposed to a cemetery’s nonprofit 501c13 status) would open it to a lot of grant opportunities. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Erik says:

    I always feel this is always one of those ask later types of things that people don’t want to think about.

    From a business standpoint, how do you increase revenue to afford necessary maintenance? One thing I’ve heard used is a columbarium. Either built in the cemetery, using an old church (also needs revenue but provides a dignified place of rest), and/or creating a partnership with a funeral home.

    From an image standpoint, pairing with service organizations, community service officers, and maybe a city/county/parks partnership.

    • Great suggestions! I definitely agree, it does always seem like this is one of those ask later things.
      A columbarium is an interesting suggestion but a plausible opportunity. With this particular cemetery, it would have to be in the cemetery as there is no church or other building that could house one.
      The cemetery and its board does partner up occasionally with local historical societies for cleanups and the city has a cemetery’s commission, so I think there are plenty of opportunities.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Pingback: Thoughts for Thursday (on Friday): Cemetery Image Problems | Preservation and Place

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