When I got my first iPhone I had no idea home much of my life would change.
Pre-iphone– a clock radio would wake me up. I’d take a shower, make breakfast, turn on the TV, get the news. Now I wake up, reach for the phone and BOOM! CNN, twitter, Skype, MSN, email.
First news of this day– Maya Angelo has died. I didn’t see that coming. I admire her work, no one can’t say she didn’t live a full life filled with love and respect for herself and others.
However, I wonder what her funeral will be like. I wonder who the funeral director is, did she make prior arrangements? I wonder who will be in charge of her funeral? Who will speak? who won’t? Clinton? Oprah? I wonder if she insisted it remain simple, just a matter of fact, with little time to mourn? Or did she think a funeral should be a unique human expression like so many of her poems? I suspect, her funeral will inspire a lot of ideas about what a funeral looks like. I’m not sure most people will realize this, I doubt she did. How she and her family choose to openly, or privately, illustrate the need and practice for a funeral will be quietly educating a lot of people about the value and necessity of a funeral, if in fact there is one in our culture.
I have completed my semester of studies. I was surprised how much about funerals I didn’t know legally. It’s very strange how little we know about what we can and can’t do when it comes to a funeral. Who can have the ashes? Who can attend a funeral? Where can a funeral home be located? When can you bury someone on private property? We spend nine months preparing physically, mentally and socially for a baby, a sudden death happens and we only have hours or days to prepare. Everything that happens in within time has the potential to be intense, make it or break it moments in relationships.
This week I was surprised to see a program for funerals for homes in Philadelphia. Funeral for homes? Yep, and I think it’s important. We are so blessed in this country. We are so blessed we actually have the luxury to forget how blessed we are; this forgetting is beginning to destroy neighborhoods and even large cities like Detroit and Philadelphia. Have you seen Detroit lately? Just google “detroit” images and see the blocks an blocks of blight in America. Blight in America? A fifth of Detroit’s properties are considered blight, according to a report by the Blight Removal Task Force. If we can throw away homes, what else are we capable of throwing away? A home, a car, a job, a neighborhood . . . huge parts of the American dream. Are we forgetting and throwing away the American Dream? Should we have a funeral for Detroit? Or is that just going too far? If so, Why?
How do you have a funeral for a home? I was trying to think how I might have one. At first, I thought this was such a silly idea. However, I realized one of the hardest things I had to do after my grandmothers death was sell her house. Her house was, and still is, the most powerful home I’ve ever had. It’s good to consider the space where you live with those you love the most in this world. look at it the house, honor what that home gives to you and everyone under its roof. A home is like another member of a family, it offers shelter, requires attention and it can stress you out in a big storm. If you have a home you know you want this home to succeed, you are aware what that home says to others about you. If you really stop to think about it, a home is another member of your family. So, why not give it a funeral? Doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a practice of care that reminds us what matters most and how blessed we are.
Here is info about the program. There are photos of the home in life and death that are really beautiful. I’d put the snowy one on my wall. The site notes, “Every year nearly 600 homes are demolished in the City of Philadelphia.”
Funeral for a Home is a Mantua-based effort designed by local artists Billy Dufala, Steven Dufala, and Jacob Hellman working collaboratively with the Mantua Civic Association, Mount Vernon Manor, Inc.; Mantua Community Improvement Committee, The H.U.B. Coalition, and Peoples’ Emergency Center CDC. Patrick Grossi is Funeral for a Home‘s project manager.
WHEN May 31, 2014
WHERE 3711 Melon Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104
TIME 11:00 AM
This is a short panel discussion between the artists and the community. They make some great points about the project. However, one thing I really admire in the discussion is a small dialog about the role artists can have beyond simple creator of cool objects for elite collectors. They remind us there can be a greater, larger, and even equal role for artists in a community.