As word has traveled about the poor upkeep at Restlawn, the idea of a community clean-up project has been floated by quite a few folks. This sounds like a terrific notion, and if a community day like this comes together, I’ll be there bright and early with my work gloves and garden tools. Other people seem ready to bring buckets, lawn & leaf bags, and their ride-on mowers out to the cemetery.
As enthusiastic as I am, though, a project like this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds on the face of things. To pull this off, we’d need to deal with some potential challenges first. One is the fact that none of us owns the cemetery or even our own family members’ plots. To avoid trespassing and liability issues, we’ve been advised that getting the Restlawn Memory Gardens Inc.’s permission, probably in writing, would be a really good idea. Even if permission could be secured, somebody should be enlisted to go out to the cemetery to photograph existing damage so no one on the clean-up crew would be blamed for causing it.
Some problems at the cemetery are outside the reach of a community clean-up day, as we all know. The cracked window glass and the water damage at the mausoleum come to mind, as do the markers that have been scraped or had parts broken off.
And, of course, even if a clean-up day is an incredible success, that grass would grow back, new graves would continue to need tending as ground settles, and paint would go on peeling over time. So a long-term upkeep plan would still need to be developed.
But, even with all of these challenges (and some I probably haven’t thought about), a community project deserves a strong thumbs-up.
The advertising for an event like this would give people hope about Restlawn. A call to the community could draw the attention of state and local leaders who have authority over how cemetery laws are applied and who have the means to create a long-range plan. And, finally, having everyone spend the day working together to make things a little better could remind us all of what Restlawn looked like before—and make for an even stronger commitment for a full restoration.
So bring on the work gloves.