Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Life and Death - the Event

Tania Kirkman organized a three-day conference called “Life and Death” in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, that was held June 19-21, 2020. I was to attend, physically, as a presenter, and make the presentation you see above, 
Secrets Revealed from Philadelphia's (Underwater) Monument Cemetery. Then coronavirus hit town, and life as we knew it was either cancelled or virtualized. Tania chose the latter, and worked with all the presenters over the past month to create Zoom versions of their presentations. This in turn benefitted not only the expected attendees (who faced cancellation of the event), but also the wider masses who would not have been able to physically attend the event. Over a thousand people were following her social media posts (https://www.facebook.com/groups/LifeAndDeathEvent2020/).

There were many virtual presentations given over the three days – I caught two. Extremely well done by extremely knowledgeable people, and thoroughly enjoyable! Hayden Peters (https://www.patreon.com/artofmourning) discussed Mourning Art jewelry in his talk, “In Memory of” and Brenda Sullivan of The Gravestone Girls (https://www.gravestonegirls.com/#/) gave a wonderful presentation entitled “Welcome to the Graveyard – Cemetery Art, History, and Symbolism.” She covered American cemetery evolution from the 1600s to the present day. 

In addition to the virtualized sessions, there were some physical gatherings in Shepherdstown – a cemetery tour, a night movie, and some physical vending by artists and craftspeople. Hopefully, next year we can all get mortal again. Virtualization can allow more people to participate, for sure, but there is a tangible aspect of our interactions that is irreplaceable. 

So I did my presentation on June 20, at 10 a.m. on a sunny summer day, actually the first day of summer. Not exactly the witching hour. Still, there was information I presented that would make your skin crawl, no matter what time, day, or weather. It was about the gravestones on the shore of the Delaware River in Philadelphia, under the Betsy Ross Bridge. If you’ve read my Cemetery Traveler blog or read the posts reproduced in my book of the same name (link to purchase), you know that this is about how the City of Philadelphia destroyed Monument Cemetery in 1956 – obliterated it in order that Temple University could acquire that land to build a parking lot. Progress. 

Thank you to my 34 attendees and I do apologize to the several who I could not admit after the presentation began. I had figured I would admit people manually – wrong! Always never do this! Set your controls to admit latecomers automatically! Each of the three times I admitted latecomers, my slides froze and would not advance! To make matters worse, my in-house IT consultant (a.k.a. my ten-year-old daughter Olivia) was not yet awake!

But, I powered through. As did all the other presenters. For most, this was their first rodeo. It was only my second. Here, for your enjoyment, ad infinitum, is my presentation, stored somewhere in the cloud. It’s free to access, so you can watch it anew or relive the moment if you were there with me in my living room last Saturday morning. 

(Recorded presentation) “Secrets Revealed from Philadelphia's (Underwater) Monument Cemetery”

Donations appreciated!