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Sanctuary Update: Fall 2018

As I reflect back to 2014 when Carolina Memorial Sanctuary (CMS) was a glimmer of an idea, to this present day, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all that has transpired to bring to us the Sanctuary we have today. We began with an ideal: timeline, vision, financial plan, team, etc. Early on, it became apparent that what was required was a loose grip on the ideal and to allow the Sanctuary to manifest itself, to show us our next steps and how to look ahead with a broader view. Originally, green burial seemed to be the obvious main theme here at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary.  Those of us who continue to create CMS have come to accept that education, patience and acceptance now hold an equal place with green burial. Every new phase of land management, breakdown of equipment, season change and burial shows us how to relax into the next step and to remain unfixed in ideals, views and desires. The gift keeps on giving and thankfully, there is no end in sight.  

Grand Entrance

Mary Weber, Landscape Architect, has designed a beautiful entry for the Sanctuary and we had aspired to have construction begin this fall.  Alas, more pressing matters demanded our attention and finances. The heavy rains this spring and summer resulted in the wetlands expanding into the trail area beside the bamboo, making it a mucky and unpleasant experience for people to walk on. To ensure the safety of our guests and to help create a better walking experience, we've started to repair all of our trails. This has diverted our resources and so we are looking to 2019 for the entrance construction to begin.. That being said, we found some AMAZING stones that are wrapped in tree roots, that we will be placing on the property to create our new Carolina Memorial Sanctuary sign. We are absolutely in love with them and think you will be too!

Land Restoration

Through the support and efforts of Conserving Carolina, the Town of Mills River, and Shaun Moore of SM Soil and Water Management, Carolina Memorial Sanctuary has received grant funds totaling $142,000 from North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund ($56,000) and from North Carolina Division of Water Resources - Development Grant ($86,000).  This funding is specific to wetland and creek restoration and will include:
  • Restoration of spring bed and banks on Northwest property line with our neighbor, Barkwells (they are participating in the grant restoration efforts).  Eventually, the bamboo will be replaced with rhododendron.  We have begun the removal of bamboo on our property.
  • Restoration of McDowell Creek (within CMS property), its banks (50' from creek edge on both sides of the creek) and bed, including removal of non-native plants and replanting with appropriate native plants and trees. 
  • Wetland restoration.
SM Soil and Water Management is handling all of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary's land restoration efforts.  This summer they worked on invasive plant removal in the meadow area and the restoration will continue on the Sanctuary property for years to come. 

Master Plan/Memorial Gifts

Many generous people have inquired about purchasing memorial benches or memorial plantings and we would love to say "yes" to everyone's request.  We've learned some important lessons over the past 2 years and in order to be mindful about the placement of new benches, trees, shrubs, and wildflowers,  must look to the future, zoom out, and envision what the property is going to look like in 5, 10, 20 or 100 years. Our Master Plan is a project we had hoped to complete this fall. The details of the plan are requiring more of our time and resources (we've hired an expert to help us with this) than we had anticipated. So, for the time being, we are gathering memorial requests and will make decision during the planning process. For those who have already reached out... we haven't forgotten you. Please bear with us as we design and create the best plan for the future of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary.

Volunteer Work Day on Hold

Our monthly volunteer work day to the tend the land and care for the graves is on hold until Spring. For those who have signed up to volunteer for burial assistance - we will still reach out to you when we need help.

Caroline Yongue, Director

Carolina Memorial Sanctuary
Donates Conservation Easement to Conserving Carolina

On October 2nd, we officially donated our conservation easement to Conserving Carolina. Even though this just happened, Conserving Carolina (formerly Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) has been a close friend and ally of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary since the very start (going on 3 years). They've helped us acquire grant money for land restoration, provided expert guidance regarding land conservation, connected us with AmeriCorps volunteers, and have been committed to the Conservation Burial movement. Partnering with a land trust in this manner helps to ensure that there is proper oversight to how the land is being treated and developed. Conserving Carolina will monitor our easement and will continue to provide us guidance and support, as land conservation experts. The people who work for Conserving Carolina are kind-hearted and committed to caring for the environment and protecting land; we couldn't be happier to partner with them.
Read The Official Press Release

"Some people think that if they prepare for death, death will come knocking."

Written by: Caroline Yongue, Director

With 20 plus years of experience now, walking amidst death, I’ve witnessed the results of preparing for death and the consequences of what happens when death is allowed to come as a surprise.   

Each of us will die, not one of us will be left out. This is a fact. For the majority of humankind, the time of our death is unknown. But death is inevitable....

Read The Entire Blog

My Father’s Final Gift to Us?
He Planned a Natural Burial

"His bluegrass band at the gravesite? Check. No embalming? Check."

Written by: Mallory McDuff, Warren Wilson Professor & Writer

Tackling a to-do list written by a dead man feels both intimate and absurd to me. In my hands, I hold two pieces of paper, a bump of pregnancy visible on my lap, while my six-year-old daughter sleeps in my childhood bed upstairs. Sitting in my mother’s upholstered reading chair, I face the cast-iron wood stove that heated my parents’ house during the mild Alabama winters. In that moment, I recall getting dressed in front of the stove as my father saved both money and energy in the seventies by heating our house with wood gleaned from the suburban forests of our neighborhood...
Read The Entire Blog
CMS - In The News
'There’s no other cemetery in North Carolina as unique as this one'

Read the Article
'Stories of the Land: Returning to the Earth'

Read the Article
'Mills River burial ground protected under conservation easement'

Read the Press Release
A Look Inside the Sanctuary

"Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you."

- Welcome To Night Vale

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Carolina Memorial Sanctuary · 195 Blessed Way · Mills River, NC 28759 · USA

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