OUR Green Burial Story

Brandy_candle lightingBrandy Gallagher’s Story:

Around about 1999 John Skull, from the Cowichan Community Land Trust, sent me an article about Green Burial. This sent me on a journey forward to becoming a major advocate for the combination of land conservation/protection to be coupled with Green Burial.

By way of background I should tell you that I imagine that every person has the path to find their own personal legacy and purpose in this world. This plays out differently for each of us…and yet the ability to conserve and protect our sacred lands and the very Earth which supports our life seems far more of a legacy than to leave a cash donation to research related to what might be the illness/disease that kills us!  Imagine the opportunity for each of us to live our lives focused on creating a legacy of who we are and what is valued. This does not have to happen at the end of our lives and is hopefully something we start into when we are young (and grow into as we go). Being an activist for the earth is like that….

In 1996 I went to the Provincial Government to ask for permission to scatter my mother’s ashes over Brandywine Falls (Provincial Wilderness Park) and to place a plaque commemorating her incredible work making Brandywine Falls a protected space in perpetuity. I also wanted to share the legacy she had left through the two parks which she had developed from what were once the lands which were our family homes (she also created Osborne Bay Park, with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, from our family farm called Brandywine Farm).  I was told that it was not legal to scatter the ashes over the falls and that no plaque could be placed beside this beautiful 280 ft waterfall which cascades into a volcanic cauldron. Plaques can only be placed in parks if there is a bench or some such marker to put this on!  The story of the amazing woman who pioneered in the wilderness and stood with shotgun in hand to protect the wild spaces could not be told because her legacy should only fit onto a 3.5 x 5″ commemoration on a bench with her name on it.  This has never felt complete for me and given my own walk in life is something that I believe can be done differently.

From many conversations with the Green Burial Council, to conversations with the former owner/farmer of the lands of OUR ECOVILLAGE, to work with land protection/conservation folks, the hope to bring forward a framework for green burial on all lands which were wanting to be protected became a possibility.  In 2010, OUR team wrote the “Commemorative Conservation Scattering Grounds” Policy for the Green Burial Council. Big thank you to Erika Schade for all her incredible work in that one year of the project where she pulled together the meetings, decisions, and dialogue from all of OUR process!!

This new policy meant a designation in North America for Scattering Grounds being offered at OUR ECOVILLAGE as a pilot with the intention that once we have worked through the framework here onsite–this model can be used for conservation projects across the continent.

I personally wish to have Commemorative Conservation Scattering Grounds Legacy to be here at OUR ECOVILLAGE.  I can imagine the linking of land conservation with the scattering of my ashes and a very large celebration in the Zero Mile Eatery and dance floor of the top meadow where others dance the night away….

standing group of 5 incl bran and bill[Original Land Owner] Bill Blount’s Story:

Bill stands out as an amazing farmer who believed in farming and farm protection enough to see the lands of OUR moved from his personal possession to becoming a ‘community commons’ for  many others who could bring their good work in good ways to co-create a sustainable living demonstration site and education center.

Not only did Bill sell the lands for this purpose he also essentially donated about a third of the asking price, at the time, in order to ensure the transfer to OUR as a community project.  Bill also became a continuous volunteer, supporter of the Village, and regular visitor on the land, where his spirit and encouragement are hugely appreciated!