As the ASCE AGM conference in Ghent was about to end, Ian found a way to somehow consolidate the thoughts of everyone in the hall.
The intense discussion about what is right and what could be wrong shared use of the cemeteries did not end with his consolidation, but provided a useful ground for future talks.
An idea that the thin red line between joy and pain can be crossed if we are not careful. And crossing this line depends on the cemetery itself, surrounding culture, people and purpose.
Sharing our joy of cemeteries
We enjoy and love cemeteries for various reasons: art, nature, peacefulness, emotions, tranquillity, religion.
Stories we sense within each name, year, symbol or pure nothing on the tombstone.
We want the world to know there is so much more behind grieve, sadness and darkness.
That is why we create blogs, concerts, guiding tours, schools projects, conferences, books and movies about them. To show and share our admiration.
Reflected in the pain and fear
Yet we know and understand there are others. People who feel the great pain each time they see a cross. A tombstone.
They fear of the look into the darkness of their memories. Their feeling of security is shaken each time they pass the walls that hide the cemetery.
That is why we ask ourselves at any moment we think of sharing our love for cemeteries: is that OK for everyone? Can someone be hurt as we send an invitation for a guided walk? Share a photo of a grave on social media? Put a poster inside the tourism office for a cemetery visit?
Answer is always there, within the cemetery
"Look no further" were most of the thoughts I have heard afterwards from my friends. Walk the cemetery and think about the stories you want to expose with your activity. Feel the emotions behind them.
While you are walking along the paths of cultural heritage, ask yourself: "Why is this important?". There, among those steps, among those names and symbols, you will sense the answer. You will see that red line and know if you are about to cross it.
Before the line
And if you are about to cross the line, stop and turn around. Look behind you and enjoy the view before that line.
Because that is a splendid and magnificent view of cultural heritage, resting in cemeteries. Incredible mix of art, history, stories and memories. Share it, show it, promote it. You can be sure that everyone else will enjoy it, too.