One thing I’ve heard from people who either don’t like cemeteries or just feel like complaining is that cemeteries are a “waste of space.” Which, I suppose, means that once you dedicate a cemetery, you won’t be using that land for shopping malls or highways. You know, the responsible way to use “space.”
I think that point of view is exactly backward. Cemeteries aren’t wastes of space — just take a look at the photo below. This photo shows the majority of Bellefontaine Cemetery (314 acres) and the southern portion of Calvary Cemetery (477 acres) from the air. That’s nearly 800 acres of real estate set aside for over one hundred species of trees, as well as many varieties of shrubs, grasses, and flowers. The cemeteries have ponds and provide homes for many species of wildlife. The cemeteries may be a place to lay our own to rest, but they also are spaces for the natural world to live and grow and thrive.
When you fly over the area at night, you see a dark pool of blackness in the midst of millions of streetlights, car headlights, residential areas, and parking lots. When you fly over during the day, you see the welcoming green areas completely hemmed in by industry and residences.
Is it a poor use of land, to have hundreds of acres of green space in our city? To have wildlife continue to share the world with us? To foster the growth of trees and host the songs of the birds?
I don’t think so.