Your letters, Jan. 5: Cemeteries, executive pardon and going vegan

January 3, 2014 

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Promise not to be broken

When my wife and I, and my sister-in-law, sought a location for our final resting place, we selected grave sites at the northwestern side of the existing Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery, adjacent to the wooded area.

The Chapel Hill cemetery representative assured us that the wooded area next to our plots was reserved for future graves. Now, we learn that the Town Council is considering giving away that land for “affordable housing.” I implore the Council not to renege on the obligation that was made many years ago.

Like I, hundreds or perhaps thousands of Chapel Hill families, wish to have the contentment of visiting our departed loved ones who are interred in the cemetery with a reverent, quiet, and peaceful surrounding – not next to a crowded low-income housing project. While I am not opposed to providing housing to low-income families, the council should find space elsewhere. After all, a commitment is a promise not to be broken – to those who have passed, as well as to those who are still living.

Robert D. Bauman

Chapel Hill

Prime real estate

Chapel Hill is growing, especially fattening up between Chapel Hill and Durham. This site is no longer a good place for burials.

Memorial and burial practices are changing. This is because there is nothing sustainable about conventional burial today. It is wasteful to have hundreds of upright stones that have to be mowed around. Many folks are opting for cremation, which takes up less land space. The ashes are spread in memorial gardens and garden walls have memorial plaques. However, even this is changing to something better: cremation is not the greenest way to go.

“Green Burial” is a new practice that should be accommodated in a new kind of cemetery that could be in the rural buffer around Chapel Hill. In green burial, no embalming chemicals are used and the casket is unvarnished and completely biodegradable. There is no upright stone memorial marker in this greener grave site. The casket is buried at a shallower depth, where biological degradation can occur. There is the option of planting flowers, a shrub or tree, placement of a special marker that is flat to the ground, and the space becomes a memorial park, with memorial gardens, where people can also spread ashes. The park could have picnic facilities for family reunions and services. There could be a pet cemetery.

As a hobby genealogist, I don’t mind tromping around in cemeteries and reading gravestones, the Old Cemetery on UNC campus accommodates my Great (x4) Grandfather Martin's grave, but frankly speaking these older kinds of cemeteries, which are now more headstones than trees and plants, are not easily used for recreation, family gatherings, or widow/orphan visiting, nor are they easy to maintain (and many are not).

The site for the proposed housing for the lower-income folks is an excellent location, convenient to transit and U.S. 15-501. We also badly need nursing facilities in Chapel Hill for the helpless, and hospice facilities for the dying. I hope that we can figure out how to accommodate young and old, the living, dying, and the dead in a manner that doesn't use prime real estate that the living also need.

Sally McIntee

Chapel Hill

via chapelhillnews.com

A flawed system

Re “McCrory pardons Chapel Hill man wrongly convicted of murder” (N&O/CHN, http://bit.ly/1is90sx)

This seems to be a recurring phenomenon. Every few weeks we hear of another person wrongly convicted and freed because of DNA evidence or other evidence that was misused in the trial. What if Mr. Armstrong had been sentenced to death and executed?

This is exactly why I am against the death penalty. There are too many flaws in our legal system to allow people to be put to death. I sure hope Mr. Armstrong will find peace with his accusers and jailers. I know that he will get money to help console him, but he will never get that time back he missed with his family and friends.

Gary Ross

via newsobserver.com

A wonderful year

What a wonderful year it’s been at SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals, and we couldn’t have done it without you – the incredible community in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County. While the people we serve come from across the state – about 2,200 each year representing every county in the state – by and large, it is this community that makes our house a place of housing, healing and hope.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude, in particular, to the two organizations upon whose shoulders we stand. UNC Health Care is a great institution doing incredible work caring for the people of the state. Without them, and without their full support of our mission, we would have no cause to support, no families to house.

And to the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) branches, advisory councils, employees and members who bake cookies and sell candy bars as fundraisers, make and serve meals, and volunteer at the house—thank you. The ownership and pride you take in this house reminds all of us daily how much our work matters.

In closing, let me also thank the sometimes unsung heroes who collected 184 in-kind donations and counting of food, Wish List items, UNC basketball and football tickets, furniture, services, auction items and more to benefit guests. Thank you to the meal teams who prepared and served 243 meals to our families. And to the front-desk, laundry, kitchen and Trader Joe’s volunteers who have donated 7,753 hours and counting of your time: Thank you.

Janice McAdams

Executive director

SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals

Going vegan

With New Year’s resolutions upon us, consider the popular trend toward a healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate meat-free diet.

According to Harris Interactive, 47 percent of American consumers are reducing their consumption of animal products. USDA projects this year’s per capita chicken and beef consumption to drop by 8 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from their 2006 peaks. Similar dramatic drops are projected for pigs and turkeys. Milk consumption has fallen by a whopping 40 percent since 1970.

A number of celebrities are going vegan. They include Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Z and Beyonce. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, PayPal founder Peter Thiel, and Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are funding plant-based replacements for meat and eggs.

Fast-food chains like Subway and Chipotle are responding to the growing demand by rolling out vegan options. Taco Bell has found that 43 percent of conversations about meat were negative. The Baltimore, Los Angeles, and San Diego school districts, serving more than a million meals a day, have adopted Meatless Mondays.

How about dropping animals from the menu for this New Year’s resolution? Entering “Meatout Mondays” in a search engine brings tons of useful recipes and transition tips.

Colin Barnett

Chapel Hill

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