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By Charles Spencer

We don’t know how to handle death. Most Americans fool themselves into believing their loved ones are being preserved like entombed pharaohs, when in fact their embalmed bodies begin disintegrating within weeks, leaking formaldehyde into the ground. Somehow, what once was a natural part of life has warped into an emotionally remote, usually toxic ritual. Billy Campbell, a South Carolina physician and the main character in a School of Communication alum’s award-winning documentary, wants to change that. Dying Green, produced and directed by Ellen Tripler, SOC/MFA ’12, winner of a Student Academy Award silver medal, follows Campbell and his British-born wife, Kimberley, on their mission to make burials in their small South Carolina town more environmentally friendly. Campbell established the nation’s first green cemetery about 14 years ago on 33 wooded acres in Westminster, South Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachians. At Ramsey Creek Preserve, embalmed bodies, concrete grave markers, and metal coffins are forbidden. Only cremated remains, or bodies shrouded in cloth or placed in simple, biodegradable wooden coffins, are allowed. With its winding path and meandering creek, the wooded site has none of the wellmanicured somberness of a typical park-lawn bone yard. It’s a peaceful nature preserve that happens to recycle bodies back into the earth.

American magazine  

The flagship publication of American University. The new magazine offers a lively look at what AU was and is, and where it's going. It's a...

American magazine  

The flagship publication of American University. The new magazine offers a lively look at what AU was and is, and where it's going. It's a...