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November 2014

In collaboration with SAFCEI the first interfaith workshop was held on November 3. After viewing the trailer of the documentary a discussion evolved between Jewish, Dutch Reformed Church, Muslim and Agnostic belief traditions.

Both the Jewish (pine wood simple coffins only) as well as the Muslim communities (quick burials, modest materials) conduct environmentallly friendly procedures. One of the participants narrates about using clothing cupboard to recycle them into coffins! We also discuss the security situation at public cemeteries: a matter of sincere concern. The next day we have our first entry for our Monkey Survey: thanks! May many more come to gather essential data on the ‘who, where, what, why and how’ questions. The Novalis Institute in Wineberg appears to be a great venue for this workshop.
SAFCEI promises to take care of the translation of the survey as well as assist people that are not able to fill in the survey via internet.

I meet with a journalist from UCT to have an interview on the research project and it subsequently triggers me to think about a communication strategy. The website design (www.deathmatters.co.za) evolves and my partner in crime convinces me that presence on Facebook is essential. I receive the first email via info@deathmatters.co.za!

Incoming funds enable me to pay the documentary maker for his hard work; we are awaiting financial support from SAFCEI to enable me to conduct the workshops and turning the trailer into a full feature documentary.

Encounters like the Annual meeting of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership and the GSB conference on Design Thinking are always beneficial for new ideas and expanding the network. Unfortunately I am not able to join the launch of a new Climate Change Campaign of friend Robert Zipplies (responsible for a relevant article on funeral options!) and exchange ideas on contributions in the research project with environmentalists.

On the initiative of Heather Parker and Daniel Sullivan of the Cape Town Design Capital Project, we have a meeting with City MECC mrs Belinda Walker, responsible for parks, cemeteries and special events.
In general it has become clear that Cape Town has limited financial resources available and is reluctant to engage in innovative projects in this space. Participatory processes on the subject of cemetery extensions are not viable at the moment.
On the other end: plans for memorial parks should be explored and backed up with more data (e.g. from survey). In this regard it is relevant to share information on the marketing campaign to increase the use of the Mausoleum.
We conclude by brainstorming other innovative ideas (distributing the survey among nature lovers and hospices) and linking to the African Center for Cities.

With financial specialist Katja K, we develop a financial framework for the project that enables accountability and tracking for separate projects.

Sarah Polonsky and dr Guy Preston of the Department of Environmental Affairs have organized a conference meeting with relevant colleagues to discuss the experience of the eco coffins project in Durban (funded by the World Bank). This project collapsed mainly because of interference of the industry that wanted to protect their vested interests. I can’t get my head around how to collaborate with this group yet, but very happy with their support; it is always good to discover like minded change agents.

The idea of using trees as a replacement of graves keeps on popping up. Maybe we can build a business case for ‘a city without cemeteries’ but with memorial forests.

An invite to speak at a FAB conference for micro insurance providers enables me to meet with about 100 entrepreneurs in the industry and to discuss with Colin Daries the way forward (especially obtaining access to much needed funding). (27/11)

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