About Green Burial Massachusetts

Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, picture courtesy of GREEN BURIAL COUNCIL

Who We Are and What We Do

Green Burial Massachusetts (GBM) is a statewide all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose guiding principle is to restore death to its rightful place in the cycle of life. Our mission is twofold:

  • to start the first green cemetery open to all in Massachusetts, and
  • to educate the public about green burial.

Massachusetts Conservation Cemetery

In 2019 we created a 501(c)(13) cemetery corporation in anticipation of purchasing land for a conservation cemetery . We follow up on leads, check maps, consult with our land trust partners, talk to realtors, and walk parcels in search of a piece of land that calls to us.


Education

  • We provide talks, workshops, webinars, and other educational programs at public libraries, senior centers, green fairs, and other venues. Our presentations cover what green burial is, how it works, where it can be done, and more.
  • We periodically offer volunteer trainings, to give others the resources and confidence to speak to groups about green burial.
  • We educate municipalities and nonprofit organizations about natural burial.

Downloadable About Us .pdf



GBM Team

Jo Oltman, President and Director

Jo Oltman has been death positive for as long as she can remember, and she is passionate about green burial. An unabashed taphophile, Jo has visited and photographed dozens of iconic cemeteries in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe, and she is excited about creating the first conservation burial ground here in Massachusetts. She spends much of her time reading articles about death practices and has been a frequent participant of Death Cafes, the Death Salon, and the Daughters of Darkness Festival in Salem.

During the day, Jo is a proposal manager for an architecture and urban planning firm in Boston. Previously, she was director of marketing for a landscape architecture firm specializing in cemetery master planning, where she applied her passion for green burial to help the team educate industry peers about opportunities for designers to make beautiful, sustainable spaces for people to celebrate life and honor loved ones.


Candace Currie, Clerk and Director

Candace has been a green burial advocate since she saw an inventory of concrete grave liners waiting to be installed in conventional graves at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and Watertown, MA. She asked, why is a concrete box going into the ground when a simple casket would suffice? Her two decades of experience at Mount Auburn Cemetery and eight years with the Green Burial Council help answer questions like this one. Candace is adamant that anyone who chooses a green burial should be able to get one in their local or regional cemetery.


Elizabeth Cardaropoli, Director

Elizabeth has been interested in green burial for many years, rooted in her passion for cultural, environmental, and historic preservation. Elizabeth is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant with the Celebrant Institute and Foundation. She is a member of the Association of Gravestone Studies. Elizabeth has collaborated with many organizations and institutions: the Order of the Good Death: Death Salon, Fitting Tribute Funeral Services, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Green-Wood Cemetery, Salem’s Daughters of Darkness Festival, and the New York Open Center. By day she can be found working in museum administration.


Eva Moseley, Director

Eva is also the Membership Secretary of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts (FCAEM), which, along with the FCA of Western Massachusetts, launched GBM, Inc. Before retiring, she was curator of manuscripts at Radcliffe’s women’s history library.

In her youth Eva studied Sanskrit and Hinduism, thus learning about cycles of life and death, as opposed to the “Western” philosophy of infinite growth (bigger, faster, more of everything). Born in 1931, she has, along with environmental and philosophical concerns, a personal interest in finding land for a green burial ground soon, due to the “actuarial imperative” (i.e., she’s old) and to having three generations of offspring.

In 2019, Eva was nominated for the Green Burial Council Leadership Award, which is presented to an individual, organization, or business that has demonstrated foresight, innovation and extraordinary commitment to the environment through sustainability and attainability in the area of human death care practices.


Joan Pillsbury, Treasurer and Director

Joan has been interested in green burial since 2009 when she read Mark Harris’s book, Grave Matters: A Journey of the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial. She called her Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Mass (FCAWM) contact person, Carol Coan, and they took a field trip to Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve outside of Ithaca, New York. She joined FCAWM and became a Green Burial Committee member, now Green Burial Massachusetts, Inc.

Joan values the concepts of reduce, reuse and recycle, and has an energy efficient home with alternative energy sources. Green burial makes sense to her. Joan is passionate about having a green cemetery in Massachusetts for everyone.


Sophia Sayigh, Director

Sophia was drawn to the idea of returning to the earth as naturally as possible as soon as she found out about it ten years ago, and immediately organized a well-attended GBM information night at her local library to spread the word. She is glad to be part of making green burial an option for anyone who desires it.

A former librarian and lay breastfeeding counselor, she currently volunteers for AHEM, a homeschool advocacy nonprofit, and is a member of the Brewster Cemetery Commission.


History

We’ve been doing education and advocacy work promoting green burials for 10 years. As of March 2016, we incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization for charitable, educational, scientific and literary purposes. This change puts us in a better position for receiving donations of both money and land. Co-founded by Carol Coan and Judith Lorei, Green Burial Massachusetts began as a committee of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts (FCAWM), and it has been generously supported by the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts (FCAEM). Green Burial Massachusetts, Inc. is grateful for the foresight, commitment and continued work by both chapters of the Funeral Consumers Alliance to advance green burial.