The Future Will be Fed
Can death feed life? How might your body fuel the future? What possibilities will you manifest with the contribution of your remains?
These questions probe an expansive vision of human life that includes and incorporates death. In contrast to disposing of the human body, our work conceptualizes bodily repayment and repatriation as pathways of connection and regeneration.
Through the Body Contribution Project’s 3-part process, you will gain knowledge of the cultural constructs that challenge your ability to make a decision about what to do with your remains; dream and envision how your choice could align with the wisdom of a universe continually renewing itself; and co-create a container for your bodily remains.
It is never too early to make a choice, but there is such a thing as "too late."
Together with our supportive community of funerary providers, artisans, and educators, you will consider and make values-aligned choices that serve life after your death. Knowing ourselves and others as seeds, Body Contributors gift a future sown and reaped death by death.
Part 1: Educating
Learning is a life-long proposition that deepens awareness from cradle to the grave. This journey begins by introducing prevailing Western cultural constructs around death that limit and cloud our vision. Body Contributors will explore their own inherited teachings, while holding space for more life-supportive understandings and earth-honoring possibilities to emerge for their body's remains.
Part 2: Visioning
Dreaming invites awakening to truths beyond this life. Once grounded in the Body Contribution’s educational framework, you will imagine how your choice for honoring your body would be a testimonial to your counter-cultural willingness to cooperate with the earth’s natural processes.
Artisans will guide you in dreaming your place in this life and the next. Sharing stories of their own awakenings to the artistic possibilities of green shrouds, coffins, and urns, these sojourners will help you consider the kind of life-sustaining beauty you might choose to share in your transformation.
Part 3: Making
From learning to dreaming to doing, the Body Contribution Project walks you through a holistic process of creating a container for your remains. In addition to Body Contribution funerary artisans, you will create your desired container, such as a urn, coffin, or shroud, with a team of friends and family whose presence you might welcome at your dying time.
While in the making process with the artisan and your selected death team, you can have thought-provoking conversations about how they might act on your behalf to manifest a peaceful, well-supported transition. As the team imprints their energy and intentions on that which will hold you into the next life, they will be woven into this culture-changing, life-giving network of death-awareness.
Body Contributors can share mutual inspiration and support during the making process through a private social media group.
Once made, the container you choose and make will become an ever-present life companion and death teacher, beginning the cycle of learning, dreaming, and doing once more.
Learning that Never Ends – The Next Cycle
Part 1: EDUCATING
Envisioning a Good Death with Katherine Savage
January – March 2024
First Sunday of each month
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Part 2: VISIONING
Event 1, Show & Share with funerary artisans and a director
Meet the funerary artisans, see their craft, and hear their compelling stories of how they came to their particular death offering. Meredith Parker Springs, funeral director of West Family Funeral Services, will share about green body contribution possibilities.
April 13, 2024
9:00 am-3:00 pm
Event 2, Storytelling through Cloth with Melanie Wilder - optional
This day is for those with an interest in making a shroud. Melanie will share a variety of crafting techniques for transforming cloth into a life companion and death teacher. The other funerary artisans will also be available for visioning-supportive conversations.
May 4, 2024
9:00 am-3:00 pm
Private home in Black Mountain, NC
*Registration for this optional event will occur in April and is an additional cost.
Part 3: MAKING
Begin working with the artisans to create the container you vision for your bodily remains, alongside your death team. You might work with a single artisan, or engage 1 or more to make your container. For example, a shroud with Jason and eco-printing with Lisa.
*For this reason, costs of creating your container will be determined once your choice is made. See links below to their websites for an idea about costs for their products. The artisan’s price lists for sharing in the making of a container with you will be available for your review at the April Show & Share.
This project concludes when your container is finished. The learning from death of course, never ends.
Registration is Open now. Closes November 17,
or when the class size has reached capacity.
The prices below include: 6 hours of education with Katherine, participation at Show & Share, and support from Katherine in working with your death team.
Prices are offered on a scale that values economic justice, acknowledging systemic differences in folks' access to resources.
6 spaces at $300
6 spaces at $350
6 spaces at $400
Sponsored (1 space):
If the tiered costs are a barrier, please send an email. Priority for a sponsor-paid space will be given to those who are living historically/currently marginalized identities (BIPOC, LGBTQI+, disabled folks).
1. Storytelling through Cloth Workshop (optional event) - $150
2. Making a container for your remains -
Once you have chosen your container, you will work with the artisan to determine the level of participation in its making that feels right to you both. You will also decide if you want to work with 1 or more artisans.
For these reasons, costs of creating your container cannot be predetermined.
To get an idea of their product costs, see links below in bios to their websites.
The artisan’s price lists for sharing in the making of a container will be available for your review at the April Show & Share. You can speak with them in person at this event or at the Storytelling through Cloth Workshop, or through phone/email in order to price the container you choose.
You will be asked to make a $100 deposit by November 22 to hold your space. The deposit is non-refundable, unless you have let me know by December 15 that you must withdraw.
No refunds are issued once the Body Contribution Project has begun, due to the need to cover its costs. Please make this choice carefully. Also, it is important that your monthly attendance is
consistent so that we can create a container of safety in relational sharing. I do understand of course, that life changes in ways we can’t anticipate. Please know that you can talk to me if
further participation becomes untenable.
Full payment must be made by January 1.
Sponsoring a Body Contribution Participant
If you come from wealth or privilege and/or have means to resources, please consider contributing towards sponsoring those who would like to be part of this but are prevented from doing so
by financial need. See the application form to indicate your willingness, and thank you.
(see below for pricing details)
You are struggling to meet basic needs and have little expendable income.
(see below for pricing details)
You’re able to meet basic needs and have expendable income.
(see below for pricing details)
You comfortably meet basic needs and have ample expendable income.
A few years ago, I gathered a group of women to engage in a process of clarifying our beliefs about death, so that we could see more clearly how our values might align with a particular body contribution choice. We called ourselves the Winding Women, as a nod to another term used for shrouds - winding sheets.
Because of these vision-opening conversations, I understood I wanted to be packaged for my return to the earth as a fertile seed, with a shroud grown and nurtured by my very own, dirt-loving hands. The shroud would tell my journey from seed to seed, as I would tell its at my death. Thus began the collaboration with Melanie Wilder, which we called the Field to Shroud project.
The shroud and I are now housemates. Its daily visibility reminds me of its ultimate function, and keeps me from my old habit of ignoring the time stamp on my forehead. It is also weaving creatures and plant teachers into my life, like Mourning Cloak butterflies and hawthorn, with intent to show me how I can expand my liveliness before I enter that shroud.
Nothing I have done so far on my journey of asking death to be my teacher, has been more powerful and transformative than living with this hand-woven winding sheet of flax.
Led by Katherine Savage
To read more about the Field to Shroud Project:
Melanie Wilder is a weaver, natural dyer, and explorer of material and process. She has spent the past 20+ years dedicated to learning and teaching, living in the Asheville, NC area where she currently runs the fiber program at Warren Wilson College. She is interested in how the yearly rhythm of growing fibers and dyes and making textiles creates ritual and meaning in our daily lives. Fascinated by historical uses and fiber techniques from across the globe, she hopes to inspire those she works with to find their voice within the world of fiber.
Sarah Lasswell is a willow casket weaver in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina. She weaves each sacred vessel with organic willow rods and a natural pine board base, and creates the interior lining and bedding by hand using natural fabrics. She welcomes clients to contribute special personal materials to incorporate into the casket and bedding, as well as join her in the weaving of the burial vessel, and finds that the opportunity to participate in such a hands-on way offers a beautiful and healing experience.
Jason Pierson is a shroud-maker, end-of-life doula, textile artist, and natural dyer. He's committed to sustainability and transparency, seeking to enrich the after-death process and connect folks to their values. Jason's shrouds are handmade with organic, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)-certified cotton.
The beautiful medium of Eco printing on textiles satisfies Lisa's passion to express the beauty of the tree and plant world. Also a painter, jeweler, photographer, gardener, and herbalist, she co-creates with nature on her porch in the trees in Burnsville, NC. The passing of her brother last fall inspired her to become a green funerary artist. The mystery of that journey with him and her deep grieving connected her to the sacred art of shroud making.
Bridget Fox creates decorative and functional ceramics called Mudventions. Inspired by exotic organisms and the textures and patterns found in nature, she invents a rare undersea garden of unique cerebral concoctions. Her creative skills and unique designs have led her to fulfilling custom urn requests from family, friends, and strangers, including her recent tribute to her own mother. For Bridget, the act of uniting a soul's cremains with a sacred vessel is a divine honor, an intimate ode to transforming grief into a beautiful testament of remembrance.