Rural System's

The Memorials Group


1. Study the area for suitable memorial sites.
2. Integrate efforts with nearby memorial sites and with the findings of the Cemeteries Group.
3. Explore alternative memorial advantages and opportunities.

Information and Diagnostics

In special places throughout the region there may be developed memorial sites. These are places where people may scatter the ashes of loved ones or come to remember the departed. Small bronze plaques (with name and birth and death dates only) are inset deep into the native rock. These are places for contemplation, for small memorial services, for remembrance. Around and in the area, there are only native plants, no artificial or other flowers, no signs. It is a place that will meet the special needs and wishes of some people. Funeral services may be arranged. Some people will add a memorial plaque many years after the death of a friend or relative. Poems, bird lists, and plant lists will be available. The sites are like beauty spots, enhancing the general rural beauty of the region.

Pylons for unique wildlife shelter may be placed in a special location. These provide nesting sites for chimney swifts. Bronze memorial plaques are also placed on them and the nearby large rocks of cliff faces. Other views are available A   B

Studies on rock weathering and lichen will begin and the permanent markers of the site will be used in historical ecology studies planned for the future. Global-positioning satellite location technology will be used in a novel way.

Merorial groves may be developed, especially for "cremains." Estimates are 2.7 kg per person; China generates 12.6 million kg per year; based on 2.7 kg per person a death rate of 7.11 per 1000 people and a population of 1.34 billion.

Remains are high in phosphate (47% and calcium (25% ) and may result in ocean or freshwter pollution if not managed carefully ( as we propose, especially within forest-groves with trails and gardens and rapid uptake of nutrients within the ancient forests, and wild flora and fauna , and community

Only peripherally related to the memorial sites, a program of wise giving toward future environments will be developed. Many people are distressed over the "waste" and peculiar distribution of grants and bequests made on the death of friends and family. A program is created for people who wish to contribute to an active, long-term program of planned research, development, and education about the environment and its wise management. This is available through the Rural System Foundation. Evidence is that taxes cannot stabilize such programs of study. Environmental topics often become controversial. It is almost impossible to achieve the educational centers of excellence, the research equipment, the practical approaches needed, the background and support that allow superior scientists and systems-oriented people to create useful systems for society. There is a need for a Jonas Saulk-like center for rural and wildland research and development (at least a superior laboratory with contributed major equipment). Funds from memorials and bequeaths may be solicited to allow such an institute to be created and projects within it to flourish. Fees from the memorial sites themselves may assist.

Senior (2009:67) described the problems related to past practices in disposing of the deceased (mercury emisions in dental amalgam,carbon emissions from inefficient crematoria (160 kg of CO2) per cremation), chemicals (e.g., formaldehyde in embalming)) leaching into groundwater. Others have promoted using ecologically friendly coffins. Others have suggested planting a tree beside each burial. New legal environmentally conscious disposals may become part of practices and those promoted within The Memorials Group.

Gifts, Awards, and Recognitions

Small grants and gifts to a person on retirement might be suggested. For example, a collection of $4,000 from friends and colleagues at a fiftieth birthday might go to producing a text summarizing knowledge about a variety of trout (assisting in The Fishery), or about a much-admired bird (AviGolf), or about some aspect of the white-tailed deer (The Deer Group). Rather than citizens making general contributions into a "good cause," contributed funds may be used well and a person may be given a lasting honor with continuing observable benefits to the environment and to society. Whole units of land may be accepted as gifts and made a vital part of the Rural System and the Rural System enterprise environments. Administration within some foundations seems to utilize excessive amounts of working money from bequests and gifts to continue to gain extra funds. Perhaps a viable alternative can be created. Fees related to the sites are used for costs, marketing, and perpetual site maintenance and security. A history of a family or of a region may be arranged by Southwest Virginia Community Archives, LLC, and Virginia History Exchange as an important lasting contribution to a family and a community.

Creation of or affiliation with a Foundation may allow land to be dedicated to easements and preservation in the name of certain people (with substantial tax advantages), either as honoraria or memorials. The Forests Group would logically mark and manage these dedicated areas into perpetuity. Security and Safety would protect the dedicated areas.

See Memories benefits of this and other Groups.
Crafted boxes and notations may serve in many ways.
Memorial boxes have been developed for placing ashes of the deceased in a collumbarium.

Special services in genealogy, especially for people of the county and region may be provided for modest fees, perhaps with the Rural Knowledge Base and with computer mapping. Web sites now provide abundant assistance and knowledge of them and how to use them may be a valuable service for some participants.

Wonderful rumors, tales, and short stories are likely to grow about these memorial places and the places will surely feature in some of the work of participants in the Writers' Camps.

See Shelley Sass of Sass Conservation, New York, a tombstone restoration workshop, that might be well related to this group through Stoneworms and The Sculptors. Mr. Donald St. John of Lynchburg, Va (who does restoration work in the Old City Cemetery) might be a resource or provide suggestions and techniques.


Katherine Senior. 2009. Not exactly ashes to ashes. Frontiers in ecology and the environment 7(2): 67.
M.C. Stanley et al. (8 authors) Emerging threats in urban ecosystems : a horizon scanning exercise. Frontiers in ecology and the Environmkent 2025 13(10): 553-560

Perhaps you will share ideas with Rural System staff about some of the topics above.

Revisions: November 29, 2009, January 14, 2009, January 23, 2011; 12-10-2015