Monday, December 8, 2008

Minnesotans inquiring about 'green' burials

Minnesotans inquiring about 'green' burials
Associated Press
Updated: 12/06/2008 05:14:27 PM CST

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Tradition and laws have kept "green" burials from becoming widespread in Minnesota, but funeral directors say more people are inquiring about them.

"There are people talking about it and people mentioning it," said Mark Benson, funeral director at Benson Funeral Home in St. Cloud. "They've seen the stories. They're talking about it, whether it was something they'd do themselves."

Minnesota state law requires bodies to be embalmed for public viewing, but natural options are available.

Theresa Purcell helped start the Minnesota chapter of Trust for Natural Legacies, which promotes green burial and is looking for suitable land within 45 minutes of the Twin Cities for a natural conservation cemetery.

"The more people learn what it is and the more people learn it's actually an option, we're getting a very strong, positive response from people," she said.

Purcell envisions the cemetery to be 25-30 acres that would also serve as a nature preserve and recreational area, with opportunities for cross-country skiing and birdwatching. People could use the property whether they have loved ones buried there or not, she said.

Green graveyards have also begun in Wisconsin.

In Milwaukee, Forest Home Cemetery set aside three of its 200 acres for green burials this year and Circle Cemetery, an arm of Circle Sanctuary near Barneveld, expanded its one-acre cremains-only cemetery to 20 acres to allow natural burials.

Purcell said she's gotten many calls and e-mails from people interested in the natural cemetery. Some elderly people have said they hope it's open by the time they pass away, she said.
Ken Peterson, president of the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association, said he expects the trend toward environmental awareness will affect death practices in Minnesota as it has other areas of society.

People already are asking to use recycled paper for memorial programs and biodegradable containers for graveside flowers, he said.

"I think what we're going to see in our area is different shades of green," Peterson said.

Information from: St. Cloud Times,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WCCO-TV Interview

Here is a link to our WCCO-TV story which aired last night on the 10pm news.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Tomorrow, 11/11, the Minnesota Chapter of TNL is going to be featured on WCCO News at 10pm! A big thanks to Liz Collin, Megan Brown, and everyone else at WCCO-TV who found this topic to be interesting and worthy of doing a story on. I can't wait to see it!

In other news, Nicole, Derek, and I went to Madison this week for the annual TNL Planning Retreat. We discussed the goals set a year ago, our progress, and our plans for the future. Now that we officially have IRS 501(c)3 Nonprofit Status we will have a lot more donation and grant opportunities. We worked on establishing a land search committee and our executive director, Mark, is developing a conservation cemetery operator's manual which will help us transition smoothly when appropriate land is found and acquired. We have a great team and a lot of passionate people working hard to make this happen. I feel confident that within a few years we will have a conservation cemetery up and running.

Right now we just need to get the word out. Watch WCCO tomorrow night! Tell your friends! Invite us to come and give a presentation! And finally, think about becoming a member!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

TNL Fall Newsletter

TNL's Fall Newsletter is now ready and you can read it by clicking HERE. This issue focuses on the establishment of our Minnesota Chapter and discusses the exciting new opportunities this opens up for us and all green burial supporters in the Midwest.
Again, i urge you to become a member and support TNL. Great things are happening but we need your help. Please, follow this link and join TNL. Be sure to specify that you're joining TNL Minnesota! Thanks for all your help and we'll be in touch soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big news!

Trust for Natural Legacies has been officially approved by the IRS as a 501(c)3 nonprofit!!

This is huge because that means that YOU (our donors and members) can now deduct your contributions on your taxes.
So congratulations and thank you to Mark Dahlby, the executive director of TNL, for all his hard work and perseverance in getting this approved.

Are you interested in becoming a member of TNL Minnesota? It's easy and it's getting even easier! Right now all you have to do is go to THIS PAGE and send in your membership. Make sure to specify that you are joining TNL Minnesota on your check and membership form. Within the next month or so we plan to have a PayPal option as well.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TNL Pumpkin Carving

This Saturday, Trust for Natural Legacies will be hosting a community pumpkin carving and picnic! We will be meeting at noon in Como Park across from the lakeside pavilion. The parking lot is on the corner of Lexington Pkwy N and Nausbaumer Dr. Click for a Map.

We're meeting at noon and will be done in time to get ready for the Zombie Pub Crawl at 4! Or show up already zombied up if that's your thing. And bring some kids if you know any! If they're zombie kids, that's even better.

This is a TNL event so if you're interested in Green Burial in Minnesota we can chat about what's happening locally and how you can get involved.
Email us at if you have any questions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Volunteer Meet-Up!

Last Saturday, Nicole, Theresa Peterson, Derek, and I met with Mark and Kristi of Trust for Natural Legacies (TNL) to officially form the Minnesota Chapter. We now have informational materials and the basis of a powerpoint and intend to start doing community outreach within the next couple of weeks. This is all very exciting! We'll be tailoring the presentation to better suit us locally and give it a personal touch and then start setting foot out in the community. If you are interested in having us present at your organization or know of someone who would be interested, please contact us at

In some exciting news, Nicole and I were recently contacted by a woman who works for WCCO about doing a story on Green Burial. Her interview won't be for WCCO but she did also inform the special projects department of the news station who also sounded interested in doing a separate story. If anything is aired on TV i'll let you know when.

There is also some very new discussion about a possible film project. I'm sure i will give more details when i have them.

We have volunteer meetings coming up October 4th and 5th so please come to one of them!
The first one is Saturday 10/4 at Minneapolis Central Library, Conference Room N-402 starting at 1pm

The next is Sunday 10/5 at Rondo Community Outreach Library in Saint Paul stating at 1:30pm in the Multipurpose Room.

We have a larger capacity at the Saint Paul location but will accommodate anyone who shows up.
During each of the meetings we'll be giving a brief presentation about what natural burial is, why it's important, and what we're doing here in Minnesota. We can also do some Q&A and discussion and if you would like to volunteer we can talk about what best suits your interests. I would only expect each meeting to last a couple of hours.

Finally, we've decided that instead of the dia de los muertos party on November 1st we'll be hosting a more informal member get together in Como Park with pumpkin carving and a BYO picnic, weather permitting. I'll send out a formal invitation as the details get worked out and the date gets closer. Hope to see you there!


Friday, August 29, 2008


On Wednesday we met with Minnesota Senator Larry Pogemiller's policy coordinator Lindsey Wollschlager to discuss the laws pertaining to Minnesota burial and cemetery policies. She has given us a lot of great insight into current legislature and put into perspective what limitations we do and do not have. Fortunately, we will have more freedom than we initially thought and the major hurdles we will have to overcome are funding for the land and convincing the county that a conservation cemetery is something necessary and worth while. I think we can do it!

On Saturday, November 1st we are planning our first big event for TNL! It's going to be a Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party held in the community. We are still in the very early stages of planning but as details emerge we will be sure to pass them on. We expect this to be an extremely fun and informational event for everyone to attend.

Finally, I would like to start organizing official Minnesota TNL volunteers soon. I intend to set up a couple meeting times and places probably the first week in October where you can come, learn about our group, and get involved with our mission. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Burials on YouTube

Here is an excellent video made by the folks over at GreenSprings Eco-Cemetery in Newfield, NY that gives a very good, basic idea of what Green Burial is all about:

Monday, July 14, 2008

TNL Minnesota Chapter

It's been a while, but I think it's finally time for an update. Nicole and I have been working hard, making connections, and figuring out the steps necessary to make the Natural Burial Project a success. We have been in contact with an organization out of Madison, WI called Trust for Natural Legacies, Inc. who recently passed a motion to begin a Minnesota Chapter. We had a meeting yesterday with two other interested locals and decided that it was in everybody's best interest to go ahead and accept their proposal to head this chapter.

This means a one year commitment to TNL to advance their, and ultimately our, cause. We are going to work hard to gain memberships, educate the public, and establish land qualifications that will be benefitial in getting and maintaining a conservation cemetery in the, hopefully near, future.

Nicole has been nominated for the TNL Board of Directors and I'm certain she'll have no problem attaining a chair. This is great for her and also for the Minnesota Chapter since the board has to approve and pass any motions the state chapters proposes.

I am going to make a serious effort to keep this blog updated regularly and I think it's going to be easier now that the Natural Burial Project has made a significant decision to work with TNL for the next 12 months. We will be setting up a couple of dates soon to meet with volunteers from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and start giving informational presentations and workshops about natural burial for community outreach. If this is something you or anyone you know is interested in, contact us at

Minnesota Chapter of TNL:
President: Theresa Kay Purcell
Vice President: Nicole LaBissoniere
Secretary: Derek Farder
Treasurer: Theresa Peterson

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

An Introduction

Our organization is looking to start the first natural burial cemetery in Minnesota. Often called a green cemetery, a conservation cemetery, a memorial nature preserve or a memorial landscape, a natural burial cemetery allows us to remember our family and friends in a dignified manner while giving back to mother nature. Loved ones are buried without the use of embalming fluids, costly caskets, or concrete vaults. Biodegradable caskets or cotton shrouds will be used as an alternative to expensive leak-proof caskets. In place of headstones, we envision native plants that will thrive in the nutrient-rich soil and thus, the life cycle will continue. We acknowledge and respect the need for family members to return to love ones’ gravesides as part of the grieving process. Modern technology, in the form of GPS coordinates and hand-held equipment, will make this possible. And while the environmental benefits of land conservation and restoration are straightforward, natural burial is appealing for many other reasons. Included are monetary savings, spiritual or religious commitments, cultural ideals and both educational and recreational opportunities for the greater community. We will elaborate on these points in future blogs; in the mean time, this related link is a great resource: