Organising a Living Legacies workshop in your town

Living Legacies workshops can be held anywhere provided all costs are covered. Outside of the Nelson/Tasman area this requires a minimum of 30 people at $40 each or $70 for a couple. Within Nelson/Tasman it’s a minimum of 10 people at $30 each or $50 per couple. Arranging a workshop involves publicising it through personal and public networks, booking a venue, and perhaps organising morning or afternoon tea if desired.

Reflections on a Living Legacies Workshop

by Judith Stehr who arranged one in the Wairarapa

“The tragedy of Rod Donald’s death jolted us all into a reassessment of life and priorities and for me into revisiting natural burial. I emailed Lynda and among various queries asked her if she would do a workshop here in Wairarapa. I felt there was so much more I wanted to know, was keen to meet Lynda and wanted to get the message out to my local community.

“I put together a story about Living Legacies and the workshop and with the help of a friend who is known to the media here sent it out as a press release. The paper we had expected would publish it didn’t (a weekly freebie which is usually happy to publicise local events) but 2 radio stations ran it and the main daily paper contacted Lynda and did a major feature on page 3 on a Saturday evening. After that my phone rang hot, I easily got more than 15 by the deadline and had another minor panic that there would be too many (Lynda set the maximum at 40). I had about 10 phone calls from people who would have come but had prior commitments or found the price too high (several who came commented on how reasonable the price was so you can’t win on that one it seems). Everywhere I went people were talking about it and telling me about the conversations they had had with others about it both before and afterwards.

“Initially I had planned to hold the workshop in my house but on the advice of neighbours and Lynda’s preference booked a local community hall. It’s a small and cosy former school building, perfect size for us (we ended up with 35 people), cheap ($20) and had a small kitchen and parking. Not so good was it being 10 minutes drive from both the main towns and the walk across the former playground in the rain to the loo. The workshop ran from 10am til 1pm with a break for morning tea.

“Yes, the weather was appropriately awful and Lynda had a sore throat but it was fantastic!! I’ve had so much great feedback from participants. It was a thinking, informed and enthusiastic group who asked lots of questions and made useful comments. Lynda got us all involved first by introductions and at times we explored issues in twos. She covered the main areas comprehensively which built on the contents of her book; costs, legal requirements, coffins, the funeral, why and how not to embalm. When we got onto the difficulties around setting up natural burial parks because of national and local council laws a participant who is a councillor and two lawyers put together a submission to go to our 3 councils long term plans and most signed it! Wow, talk about onto it!

“I was a bit stunned by the masses of praise I got for organising the workshop. Even though I’d never done anything like this before it wasn’t too onerous at all. Lots of phone calls and organising and tidying the hall on the day. Without the media interest getting the word out it would have been a struggle though.

“I think we were very privileged to have Lynda here. Her knowledge is amazing and she is able to deal with what is still a rather delicate subject calmly and sensitively. Judging by the interest in Living Legacies in our small conservative rural community this must truly be an idea whose time has come.”

Judith Stehr, Carterton 2006

“I was very impressed with the whole thing. The idea of taking back ownership of ones funeral is so positive, like too many things in life (source of food/birth and death)we have distanced ourselves from reality and what we know and can educate ourselves about becomes less fearful. There was a positive energy from the group and a great feeling of community and caring. All aspects from economy to ecology were given respect.” Sue, Carterton.

“Just to say that the workshop was fascinating and tremendous value. It was a great blend of practical information as well as some really thought-provoking discussion about how we deal with the death of people we love and commemorate their life.” Robyn, Carterton.

“Great to hear some practicality and sense being talked around funerals and getting laid. Just confirmed my thoughts on the subject. Being an organic sort of lady I would be horrified to be preserved after my death. Would be delighted to return to the earth in my a la naturale state! The book is doing the rounds of the family. Thanks Lynda.” Heather, Carterton.

For more information about organising a workshop please email Lynda…