Alluvian sat down Herb Engman, environmentalist, former Ithaca town supervisor, and president of the board of trustees of Green Springs Natural Cemetery to discuss natural burials, non profit environmental organizations, and where his passion for environmentalism sparked.
HE: “I’ve never became a specialist in anything. I don’t know a lot in depth about nature…I always have been a generalist and I think there’s role for generalist in environmentalism. You can look at the big picture and see things from a little different perspective.”
On creating Greenspings:
RP: “What type of environmental regulations did you run into in the process of creating Greenspings?”
HE: “...[T]he town board said,'We don’t want all these hippie type things going on in our town,' and we had to explain this is not a new hippie thing - this s the old - fashioned way of burying people . . . There weren’t any environmental restrictions.”
KW: “It was mostly a cultural pushback?”
HE: “Yes, exactly... what was funny was one of the members on the town board who was against the cemetery later became our treasurer. So, people come around.”
On non-profit environmental organizations:
RP: “So as someone who has been involved with all these different non profit environmental organizations do you think they’re an effective way to bring about environmental change?
HE: “Oh yea! I do, it gives people an opportunity to sort of follow some of their passions. You might not be on the water resources board, if you weren’t interested in water...It gathers people together who are interested in that arena...The environmental management council had some of the most talented people in this entire area. There were professors from Cornell and Ithaca College and amateurs who were at least as good as the professors and all these folks who were extremely knowledgable.”
RP: “Right you get this combination of all these people from all these different backgrounds in a room who are passionate about one thing.”
KW: “How has your opinion of death changed since working here?”
HE: “...I think I’m [now] more comfortable with [death]. At one time I was going to get cremated, but once I got into the green burial movement I realized how cremation puts mercury into the air from the air and uses a lot of fossil fuel to burn the body. I realized that’s not what I want . . . I don’t know how long I’m going to live, [but] know out here at least I’ll get buried right.”