A Death Café is a one time pop-up event where people get together to talk about death and have tea and delicious food.
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WHAT did you say?! DEATH Cafe?! Yes, you heard correctly. I want to host the very first Death Café in the USA in Columbus, Ohio. It is a one-time pop up event and my goal would be to have it in mid-July of 2012. The objective of a Death Café is to create a safe place where people get together to talk about death and have tea and delicious food. The purpose of having this event is to raise our death awareness with the view to make the most of the finite time we have left.
The concept started in Switzerland, then spread to France in 2010, and then to England in 2011. Jon Underwood, the founder of the U.K. Death Café has now been hosting several cafes in England with increasing interest and attendance. Just as Jon was inspired by the Cafés Mortels in France, I was inspired by his efforts, and I knew I wanted to bring the concept to the U.S. I am proposing to host the first Death Café in the USA in Columbus, OH, because it is where I currently live.
The principles of the Death Café are the following:
• The event should be free to the attendees
• The event should be free from ideology – It is against Death Café principals to lead participants towards any conclusions about life, death or life after death, apart from their own thoughts.
• The event should be safe and nurturing, which includes offering nice refreshments.
• The event should be accessible and respectful of all, regardless of gender orientation, religion/faith, ethnicity, and disability.
• The event should be confidential. Attendees should feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Who wants to think about death?
No one. No one wants to think about it, but we do. It’s part of the cycle of life. Every day, there is a news story about someone famous dying. Every once in a while, it’s someone close to us. Then we start thinking about our own mortality. For example, I’m afraid of being attacked by a crocodile. It is one of the worst deaths that I can imagine. Death talk can be serious talks about loss, but it doesn’t always have to be serious. Sometimes it helps to laugh about things too. What’s the most gruesome way of dying that you fear?
Society doesn't make it easy to talk about death. I have been accused of being quite a downer at happy hour. The thing is, it’s happening all around us, whether we want to think about it or not. I might suggest that thinking about death would help you create a better life. The key to getting over our death anxiety is to find that turning point. Okay, so now we’ve admitted to ourselves that we know we don’t have forever to live… what do we want to do with our lives? What do we want to accomplish MOST? What is on our Bucket List? The Death Café allows people to talk about death, but also sparks those conversations about life. How do we make the most of it?
Who are you?
The most extensive bio of me is on my Google+ page here, but in a nutshell, I came into this field from my own personal experience with loss. You don’t choose death education as a profession, it chooses you. My professional qualifications in the field are expanding. I’ve spoken at national and international conferences, I’ve published in Death and Dying Journals, I’ve been an active hospice volunteer for several years, and I am a licensed social worker. If you follow me on twitter, you’ll certainly raise your death awareness, because I post articles a lot. I’m also actively involved in several related tweetchats. My twitter handle is @_Lizzy_. My goal is simple: to get people talking.
What’s in it for me? Rewards!
I am really excited about the rewards. Before I transitioned to this part of my life, I used to be analytical and I have studied the types of rewards that people offer, and what appeals to me. The easiest way, in my mind, to spark conversations about life and death is through art. I have four artist friends who I have enlisted to support the Death Café initiative. (“You want me to draw what??”)
What really excites me about the way that I’ve set up the rewards is that you are not only funding the Death Café, but you are supporting both established and budding artists. I have been very hands-on with them about how I wanted to represent the Death Café initiative. It was important to me that this did not come across as “goth” because then I would have failed in sharing my vision for the meaning and purpose of the Death Café.
The Death Café logos
The Death Café Kickstarter Support logo and the Death Cafe logo was designed by Rob Baisden exclusively for this event in Columbus, Ohio. Both of these logos are available on t-shirts.
The Bucket List and Focus on Life
I heard once that you have a better chance of achieving your goals if you write them down. Well, what about putting them on the wall?! Surely that wall art would help spark and motivate you to get moving! We’ve got some really cool Bucket List art that is customized to YOUR Bucket List.
Here are our two standard design versions:
Do you want a more personalized Bucket List design? Choose from one of the custom options:
Just have one item that’s an end-all be-all from your Bucket List?
Tell the world and remind yourself daily by wearing it as a necklace. This is your mission. This is the one thing that you want to do. Each necklace is customized to your Bucket List item. Here’s are some samples:
Death By...I do have a wry sense of humor and I thought it would be funny to have my artist friend J. Schuh draw the worst deaths… kind of as a “face your fear” philosophy. He drew me four styles that you will be able to select from for t-shirts, postcards, and prints.
But my fears may not be yours, and for $1,000, he will create custom art for people who have…unique fears, such as Coulrophobia. I would love to see someone hire him to depict Death By Clowns!
Why so few limits? Are you sure you can fulfill?There are a few items that do have limits, but as for the artist fulfilled items, we had long conversations about deliverables and timing and the artists have agreed to make the delivery of The Death Café products top priority. J. actually thought it would be quite fun to draw Death By pictures every day. As I mentioned, my artists are also my friends and I know them to be responsible on their deliverables.
You have reached your goal, why should I donate?If we go above and beyond on funding, I will be thrilled! It means that you also believe that it is important to raise death awareness. Additional funds will enable me to continue to host more Death Café events. It is my hope that other facilitators will help bring the Death Café event concept nationwide.
This project would not be possible without the artists. Note all artists receive a generous portion of the proceeds of items created from their artwork.
Kristi Slevin’s pop art style was the perfect feel for my e-book series on the Downside of Dream Jobs. You can see her cover art here. She is a former co-worker and now a good friend. I’m a huge fan of her work. You can find her creative projects on her etsy page at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ecowhimsyart
Erin Armstrong is a teacher and graduate student with a lot of travel on her bucket list. She was right there for me when my mom died and I will be forever indebted to her. She’s super creative and personalizes everything that she does, so I challenged her to create necklaces that reflect single bucket list items.
Rob Baisden is my former boss and a good friend. He’s an untapped budding talent. He still has his corporate day job, but I know he loves to be creative. He designed the logo and he will receive a portion of the proceeds of all logo merchandise that is sold.
Erin Armstrong was also my videographer and she so kindly spent six hours in a cemetery while I tried to figure out exactly how to get my point across. She is part English, so she will be our tea expert at the event as well.
Trey Kauffman, a friend and a future media mogul, has been my advisor and cheerleader throughout the development of this project. Find out more about him at http://PhysisFilms.com
AJ Perry, owner of Sassafras bakery, agreed to step outside of her happy comfort zone to provide some fun theme desserts for the Death Café event
Guess what? Just by taking the time to read this all the way to the bottom, you've raised your own death awareness. Now that wasn't so bad, was it?
There are 6 styles: Kickstarted Death Cafe in the USA, Death Cafe Logo, Death by Crocodile, Death by Poison, Death by Shark, Death by Gun.
If you are familiar with Kickstarter and you look at the rewards, you will see that my rewards are quite generous for the donors. For other projects, a $25 donation would get you a postcard, for my project, a $5 donation gets you a postcard. So basically, my margins are smaller.
Additionally, while I conceptualized the art, I am not the artist for these rewards... they are products of friends of mine. Your donation funds not only my Death Cafe, but new and emerging artists. The donations cover paying the artists, the Kickstarter fees, the Amazon fees, printing and shipping the actual art. In reality, a smaller percentage goes to the Cafe than to the art itself. That's okay by me because ultimately, the end goal of raising death awareness is still being achieved.
If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, I should also point out that 8-10% of the final donation amount immediately goes towards Kickstarter and Amazon.
Finally, since this is my first time hosting one, and the first time for a Death Cafe in the United States, I budgeted in some money for marketing. As Death Cafes become more well known around the U.S., the marketing needs will be smaller.
At the time of setting up this project I also was estimating attendance, and had to look at largest-case scenario for catering and venue so that I would not personally lose money on the project.
Should I have money left over, it just means that I can host additional Cafe events in my city.
I have been working closely with Jon Underwood, the founder of the Death Cafe in England and have promised to document thoroughly all that I've learned from this experience to further the knowledge of Death Cafe facilitators worldwide.
I hope this answers any concerns that you might have. I am quite passionate about death education and am excited about trying this new venue to help community members raise their own death awareness.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
First and foremost, you will receive my eternal gratitude. You’ll be listed as a supporter on the website and you’ll receive a PDF of my book Somewhere In Between: The Hokey Pokey, Chocolate Cake and The Shared Death Experience.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
You’ve got mail! You’ll receive a custom designed Death Café USA postcard designed with a personal thank you from me. You’ll be listed as a supporter on the website and you’ll also receive a PDF of Somewhere In Between. (U.S. or international – same price!)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
You love mail! You’ll receive four custom designed Death Café USA postcards in the mail with personal notes from me gushing about you. You’ll be listed as a supporter on the website, and you’ll also receive a PDF of my book Somewhere In Between. (INTERNATIONAL, Add $2)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $20 or moreYou selected
Save the post office! You’ll receive 12 custom designed Death Café USA designed postcards in the mail, all personally written from me to you. You’ll be listed as a supporter on my website, and you’ll also receive a PDF of my book Somewhere In Between. (INTERNATIONAL, Add $2)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
You have a wry sense of humor and you want to show it. Pick a t-shirt with the death that you refuse to have. Choose your death: Crocodile, Poison, Shark, or Gun. Bring it on CROC! You’ll be listed as a supporter on the website and have my admiration for your bravery.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $30 or moreYou selected
You’re a trendsetter! You will receive a limited edition t-shirt that tells the world that you kickstarted the very first Death Café in the USA. You’ll receive a pack of 4 of the Death Café postcards so you can raise death awareness with your friends. You’ll also get an autographed print copy of my book Somewhere In Between. Of course, you'll have my deepest appreciation, and you’ll be listed as a supporter on the website.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
You’re fresh and you want to show it. Two t-shirts of your choice. You’ll also get an autographed print copy of my book Somewhere In Between. And of course, you have my deepest appreciation, and you’ll be listed as a supporter on website. (Shipping included: International, add $5)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or moreYou selected
You defy death and you’re telling the world. For this donation, you’ll receive your choice of the Death By t-shirts (Croc, Shark, Poison, Gun), a kickstart Death Café t-shirt, and a J. Schuh autographed 8x10 Death By (Croc, Shark, Poison, Gun) print. And of course, you have my deepest appreciation, and you’ll be listed as a supporter on website. (Shipping included: International, add $5)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
You’re focused! Send us the one bucket list item that is the MUST do and jewelry designer Erin Armstrong will create a custom necklace for you inspired by that item. You will also receive an autographed copy of my book Somehwere In Between. You'll be praised effusively on the website. (Includes shipping U.S. and Internationally).Estimated delivery:
Pledge $150 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (100 left of 100)
You’re a local! You’ll get a dozen yummy skull sugar cookies from Sassafras Bakery, the official bakery of the first Death Café in the USA, two T-shirts of your choice, a set of 12 postcards, a autographed copy of the book Somewhere In Between, all delivered personally by ME with my heartfelt gratitude! (Franklin County Ohio only) Your support will be acknowledged on the website and at the event. [Note, if you prefer 'happy' cookies, those can be arranged too)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
You've been there, you've done that! Why not show it off? If you have already made a big dent in your Bucket List, send us a list of Bucket List items you've completed, and artist Kristi Slevin will turn it into a custom print. You can hang it on your wall as a reminder to yourself of the glorious life you've lived. Chose either Spiral (2 colors) or Traditional Block (up to 6 colors). You will receive an autographed copy of Somewhere In Between. Your name will be featured on the website and you will hear many times how grateful we are. (Includes canvas or print up to 16x20, shipping, International, add $25) Contact us for larger size options.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
You are ambitious! You know the things you want to do in your life. Send us your entire bucket list and artist Kristi Slevin will turn it into a custom print. You can hang it on your wall as a reminder to yourself of your goals. Chose either Spiral (2 colors) or Traditional Block (up to 6 colors). You will receive an autographed copy of Somewhere In Between. Your name will be featured on the website and you will hear many times how grateful we are. (Includes canvas or print up to 16x20, shipping, International, add $25) Contact us for larger size options.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $750 or moreYou selected
You’re stylish and ambitious! You like the idea of the Bucket List art but you don’t see a style that matches your distinct taste. Send us your Pinterest page that represents who you are and artist Kristi Slevin will custom design a Bucket List art piece based on the Pinterest board you choose. There are two styles: Pop Block (font/colors inspired by Pinterest page and items on Bucket List) OR Pop Comic (layout/font/colors inspired by your Pinterest and your Bucket List). Includes one pre-press approval. Your name will be featured on the website and you will hear many times how grateful we are. (Includes canvas or print up to 16x20, shipping, International, add $25) Contact us for larger size options.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
You’re fearless! You now know I’m afraid of Death By Crocodile. What’s your worst fear? For this price, confide the worst way of dying you can imagine and graphic artist J. Schuh will create a custom piece just for you. Hang it on the wall to remind you, "That's NOT the way I'm going to go!" Canvas or print up to 24x32 – your choice. Includes art, printing and shipping. (International, add $25) Your generosity will be lauded many times over on my website.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,250 or moreYou selected
Same as $1000 print but includes J. Schuh autograph, a t-shirt with your Death By image, and a set of 20 postcards with the image. (Includes shipping, International, add $25)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $3,500 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)
You’re aware! You know death is part of the cycle of life. You want to help raise death awareness in your city. For $3500, I will fly to your city and host a Death Café event. Includes my travel, my facilitation time, and café catering (up to 50 people). You can host a public event, or one at your house just for your friends. You just need to find the venue! (U.S. Only) Your name will be featured on the website and you will hear many times how grateful I am. (International interest? Add $12,000 to this and I will also bring another facilitator. Please, no war zones - I am not ready to die yet).Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
You’re daring! You and I will cross skydiving off of our bucket lists. I’ve never been skydiving before, but I would be willing to face my fear for the Death Café. I believe in the concept that much. This donation covers the cost of my travel expenses, the skydiving expenses for both of us. Should we survive, we’ll go to dinner afterwards (my treat, but please, I'm not buying the Cristal) and have our own little Death Café discussion. Your name and picture will be featured on the website and you will hear many times how grateful I am. (U.S. only)Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)