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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?
- (30 days)