Your Lasting Gift

We decided to design a communication plan about one of the least likely to be talked about topics, death. Nearly 90% of individuals consider their own deaths and begin planning, but only 30% discuss these plans with their families. Overwhelmingly, individuals wish their funerals to be a celebration of their lives rather than a focus on their demise. Yet, the funeral industry is huge in the United States with funerals costing on average at least $10,000. This results in an exponential burden placed on the families to make those, at times, guilt focused decisions. Does Grandma deserve this mahogany casket? She did tuck me in every night. This is not the way that the individuals would have necessarily have wanted to be memorialized, but culture has created the need to express love and honor through these purchasable symbols. This burden extends to our global family. The environmental impact of current culturally popular funeral practices have resulted in:  

  1. Cemeteries in the US taking up 1 million acres of land

  2. 115 million tons of casket steel enough to build over 2,000 empire state buildings

  3. 2.3 billion tons of concrete from burial vault could pave a sidewalk to the moon 28 times

 The Green burial council is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to encourage environmentally sustainable end-of-life options, and the use of burial as a new means of protecting natural areas. 

Our communication plan shifts the focus of one's death from the elaborate funeral to the gift that was their life and how that life can continue to be a gift.

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Nineteen percent of the social media conversation surrounding green burial was found on a fantasy website. The nineteen percent of the conversation found on the more news based twitter had words associated including: pagan, cult and following. Green Burial is a misunderstood practice. We felt the first step in reframing green burial as a personal lasting gift was to introduce people to the concept of green burial.

1. A scientific article on medium discussing the merit of green burial and the positive environmental impacts (combats fear)

2. Green Burial introduction by the "Green Living Guy" and Eco-consultant and green living our with a blog with over 4.8 million followers. He expresses interest in finding new topic to features in his blog and invited individuals and organizations to help him create cultural conversations.

3. "What is green burial?" on various Green Burial social feeds (currently their social feeds typically repost other content or celebrate the fact another funeral home is adopting green practice, but they need to leverage their own resources to educate the general public more about the topic at large.)  

Encourage individuals to own the process 

Our interviews revealed the immense burden that is placed on loved ones as soon as someone passes. People fear they will not have the funeral the individual would have wanted. Often, loved ones have very limited time and are grieving as well and have to settle for the most convenient options. The second part of this communication plan encourages individuals to own the process of making decisions regarding one's funeral. 

1. Be a guest on Bad Christian Media podcast. BCM  focuses on social issues that the church has a difficult time discussing. (Planning my own funeral)

2. Create a Facebook timeline symbol (similar to the I am an organ donor). I choose to be part of Your Lasting Gift

3. Reach out to local business owners who are passionate about conservation/the environment in various areas to also add the Your Lasting Gift symbol to their own timelines as a personal decision

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Free the Conversation 

Shift the social media conversation about death to focus more on a person’s life to make it easier to talk about preparations for death with loved ones. Conversations about death are an important part of life. Help decrease the burden on loved ones and a person's global family by helping to facilitate these conversations before an individual passes away. 

1. #YourLastingGift to me concept is introduced on a blog post by popular counselor

2. Brandon Stanton Human's of New York (funeral edition), but the stories focus on the individual's life instead of the individual's death. No pictures of coffins and tombstones, but maybe a picture of their saxophone. 

3. The idea for a collaborative spotify playlist was born from the amount of pinterest/twitter comments we saw seeking music for someone's funeral. The collaborative playlist allows individuals to work together to add the songs that represent a special moment between the individual who passed and the individual who adds the song. The #lifecelebration playlist would be introduced by several musicians. 

Team: Martin Madrigal, Carly Harrison, Afia Boyke