Summer 2017 Newsletter
Hi all, 

It's wildflower season in the cemetery, which makes this a great time of year to visit! There are clusters of bright yellow black-eyed susans sprouting throughout the cemetery in the midst of a sea of white fleabane. It really is a spectacular sight. The native plant program is growing strong and adding to the landscape as well! 

PCCC is abuzz with activity and continuing to see unbelievable growth. In the last few months we've seen record numbers of burials, one happening six hours after the first call; and we received our 500th Burial Preference. As always, we're continuing to do workshops and events, so keep your eyes out for us!

We've also had more than 20 people in the last month express to us they want to volunteer. Many have said they want to help dig, but others have come up with their own projects such as photography, prickly pear maintenance, or burial assistance. If you're interested in volunteering, let us know and we'll help you find the right fit. I hope you get the chance to visit us in the cemetery or at the Lodge soon!

Take good care,
David Ponoroff
Assistant Director
500+ Burial Preference Holders!
PCCC is seeing record growth in the number of people who are buried in the cemetery and in those who are making the choice for a natural burial here in the future. In recent months we soared above our 500th Burial Preference form, marking a huge milestone for our cemetery. The Burial Preference form is a tool to help individuals plan with their loved ones, but it is also how people can express their wish to be buried here. We are so impressed and inspired by the growing desire for natural burials because of what it means to for our community, the environment, and beyond. Every burial contributes to the land as a living memorial, and everyone who plans on being buried here adds to it, too. 
A Note from Freddie:
Some folks learn about the many benefits and beauty associated with conservation burial through their intimate experience of witnessing a friend or family member's burial at Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery (PCCC). Others inquire about more details after reading a news article or seeing a television report. These inquiries often lead to golf-cart tours of PCCC with discussions about planning and the natural burial process.
 
Another way that people find out about PCCC and the choice of conservation burial is through our educational presentations. These educational events involve a PowerPoint presentation that has been carefully created by our experienced staff. The presentation includes the results of our research about the history of our country's conventional death care practices, various alternative choices of disposition including natural burial and conservation burial.  Also included in the presentation are videos taken during burials at PCCC and a time for questions/answers and discussion.
 
We have done hundreds of presentations in many parts of Florida for universities, churches, hospitals, hospices, civic organizations, municipalities, and medical conferences. The majority of attendees are always grateful for the new information as well as the experience.
 
If you know of a group, organization, or facility that might like to schedule one of our educational presentations, please ask them to give us a call. The presentations are "free", although we appreciate donations to our non-profit mission at PCCC. We can also adjust the length of our presentations to fit the time slot that is most appropriate for the occasion.
 
We are deeply grateful for your support!

Sandhill Stage Concert Series is back!
Due to the dedication and hard work of Elaine Mahon, Sandhill Stage is back this year! Attending this concert series is a great way to support PCCC and a fantastic set of music artists. There are currently six shows scheduled for this season. Please save the dates!

SAT AUG 26, 7:30 PM  DOUBLE BILL 
LARRY MANGUM DUO & THE OBSCURE BROTHERS

FRI SEP 22, 7:30 PM  PASSERINE

SAT OCT 21, 7:30 PM  THE NEW 76ERS

FRI NOV 17, 7:30 PM  THE KRICKETS

FRI JAN 12, 7:30 PM  HEATHER PIERSON ACOUSTIC TRIO

SUN FEB 11, 7:30 PM  ACOUSTIC EIDOLON

If you're interested in receiving updates about Sandhill Stage concerts, please email Sandhillstage@gmail.com!

Volunteer Spotlight
Sterling Davenport

"Death is part of life; with every burial, I am reminded of what's precious about existence and about where my priorities should be. It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily life, with the myriad distractions in 21st century America. Being in nature reminds us how transitory those distractions are, and lets me refocus on the beauty of the present."

Sterling started as a volunteer with PCCC after meeting our assistant manager Ruth Segal at the Gainesville Pride Festival where they talked about the use of embalming in the Civil War and how it gave rise to the modern funeral industry. As a historian of the American South, he was more knowledgeable than most about the history of burial practices in our culture. With this came the understanding that the modern way of doing things is unsustainable economically and environmentally. Green burial made sense because, in his words, "green burial addresses both of these problems, and encourages people to fully experience the death and life of a loved one. We have to change our attitude towards death and dying if we want to be truly present in our lives."
 
Sterling comes to assist with burials every time we ask, often staying late to help extra. His dedication to helping strangers is a testament to his character. Sterling is one of our most earnest volunteers; to him, "this is some of the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and it's an honor and a privilege to be able to do it." As much as it is a privilege for him to help, it is our privilege to have him as a volunteer. From all of us at PCCC, thank you for your commitment and hard work!
The Native Plant Program
The PCCC Native Plant Program is in full swing now and making a noticeable difference in the cemetery landscape. These plants are still young, but will grow and make the cemetery even more beautiful as time goes on. If you are interested in donating to PCCC and reintroducing native species to the cemetery, send a message to info@conservationburialinc.org!
From Full-Time Student To 
Full-Time Assistant Director!
An interview with David Ponoroff by Ruth Segal

Our student population is transient but there are some graduates who choose to spend a significant period of their lives (some of us the rest of our lives!) in this enchanting place called Gainesville Florida.
 
David Ponoroff started as a volunteer and has now been on staff at PCCC for a year and a half. He graduated from UF in April earning his BA in Political Science and Sustainability Studies.
 
We are thrilled that David is choosing to expand his commitment to Gainesville by accepting a full-time position as Assistant Director at PCCC . David is an extraordinary person, way beyond his years in so many important ways and his technology skills constantly dazzle us.
 
With this interview we invite you to celebrate with us and learn a bit about David. Feel free to stop by the cemetery office Monday through Friday and shake his hand!
 
 

How/where did you first hear of PCCC and how did you end up working here?
Robert Hutchinson (Hutch) had come as a guest speaker to a class I as taking with then caretaker of Tuscawilla Prairie, Seaton Tarrant. A friend and I stayed after the class to talk to the two of them when Hutch asked Seaton if he was going to make it to the grave digging later that evening. As Seaton shot back he had a lot of stuff to do so he wasn't sure, my friend and I were a little worried the graves were for us. Seaton and Hutch saw the concerned look on our faces and explained to us what the cemetery was, how it worked, and asked if we would help. I drove over after my last class and was immediately struck by the beauty of the land. It was a bit after 5pm and everything from the Spanish moss to the grass seemed to have an amber glow. I had a wonderful time and the work felt good. I was the last person digging that grave, the last person in the grave before the woman was to be buried, and for weeks after I would think about the deeply intimate relationship that I now had with this person and their family who I didn't know. It was a kind of service that's beyond compare.
At my second grave digging the husband of the deceased also participated in the digging. Seeing how eight strangers gave their Saturday morning to help him brought him to tears, and I began to understand just how special this place is. When classes resumed the following semester I inquired about possible projects to help with and began an internship with the organization. When a staff positioned opened I jumped at the chance to do more for and with the cemetery. The rest, as they say, is history.
 
What made you decide to expand your commitment at PCCC rather than launch a career elsewhere at this time?
When I graduated, I felt that Gainesville still had more in store for me. Many of those feelings were tied to the cemetery. PCCC is my home and I love it so much. It guided many of my studies (including my senior thesis) and gave me my first professional opportunity that most college students and recent grads never have; and that was part of the choice, but more important to me is what this place represents.  
 
What do you love the most about working at PCCC?
First is the people. I work with the most dedicated and kind folks in the world. The team that runs PCCC is unparalleled in its devotion to helping others. Our partners at Alachua Conservation Trust are a wonderful group to spend time with and work alongside. I am inspired every day by the people in these two organizations.  I also have the good fortune of meeting an incredible group of people who volunteer their time, sometimes multiple times a week. We laugh together, hold back tears together, and help where we are able. The most special people though, are those who come to PCCC to bury a loved one. The stories and emotions they share are not comparable to anything. Each and every one of them is special.  The only thing that rivals the people is the land itself. There's a special character to the land that I've never been able to put my thumb on. It is healing, serene, and just generally beautiful.
 
Do you have any particularly favorite moments at PCCC that you would like to share?
I've seen amazing things in the cemetery -- a woman picking a site for her grandkids because of the surrounding trees for them to climb during the ceremony (which they heartily enjoyed); cranes, owls, and other wildlife visiting ceremonies to make them special; a large silent group in mourning; and people singing in celebration of the life of a loved one. Every day I see a community dedicate its time to people going through one of life's most difficult experiences. There are a number of unique, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy moments to share, but the one that seems to stand out is a simple one. I spent some time with a 15 year old who helped dig his father's grave and participated during the ceremony in every way he could. When the ceremony was over and the grave was filled in the young man walked over to me, shook my hand, and just said "Thank you."  
Annual Memorial Celebration
Every year PCCC holds an annual memorial celebration for all those buried in the cemetery and their family, friends, and loved ones. We have food and live music to share in our wonderful green space. Bring blankets and chairs to stay comfy and good shoes for a hiking tour of the cemetery.

Sunday, November 5th, 2017
Save the date!
Natural Burial in the News!
"This Is How I Want to Be Dead"

The New York Times recently published an op-ed about natural and even conservation burial! 

Got Questions?
 
  Not sure how natural burial works?  Check out our Frequently Asked Questions Page for help. If you would like to speak to someone, please email us or call our 24/7 phone line (352-317-7307) and we would be happy to help.  

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Conservation Burial, Inc. | (352)-317-7307 | info@conservationburialinc.org | ConservationBurialInc.org