The city’s Lena Stevens sends along this announcement-gram…
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Dining with Dead Decaturites?
I’m dying to attend this event.
I believe that the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages is forbidden in the cemetery.
I think I heard wet blankets were also prohibited.
Sarah’s comment FTW.
Since Chris devotes much of his time to honoring the soldiers buried there, as well as showing his love for the cemetery through the wonderful photos he takes, he’s hardly being a wet blanket to voice his concern. (And since most public parks and such are No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed, it very well could be that this space is too.)
Thanks Deanne. For those who think that the cemetery is just another green space, my posting seems foolish. For some, the cemetery is just another city park where long standing rules no longer mean anything. But to some citizens, the cemetery is a sacred park, a resting place for loved ones. My guess is that most of the clever posters for this piece, as well as the sponsors of the event, have no family or friends buried in the cemetery. To them, it’s just a nice place to let the dog run free, get some exercise, or have another festival. I feel differently and I think you do too.
Anyway, I appreciate the kind words.
Hmmm…Interesting point, Chris, but I think I disagree. I think if it were “just another festival,” in the daytime perhaps, when it might be likely to disturb mourners, increase their pain, then I would agree with you. But this looks like a communal meal, a celebration of the short sweetness of life, juxtaposed with a reminder of the cold eternity of death, I think I’m talking myself into the idea it might be lovely. Memento mori–Remember that you must die. So, live, for heaven’s sake, well and with your friends and as part of your community.
I think I may have talked myself into buying the tix. Thanks, Chris!
Chris… Considering the cemetery to be a sacred space (which I most emphatically do) does not depend on having loved ones buried there (which I don’t). I don’t understand your objection to this event and wish you would share your reasoning.
Are you really saying you can’t divine any reasoning in Mr. B’s post? I get that you disagree with it and think he’s a wet blanket, but why pretend he hasn’t stated the basis for his belief? It’s right there in black and white. Or pixels. Or whatever.
I wonder, do they have fundraisers with booze and live music at Arlington? At the cemetery at Omaha beach? Perhaps so — I really don’t know — but I would hardly think it strange for someone to hold the opinion that maybe it would be more appropriate to have such functions elsewhere.
Oakland has a festival or two for goodness sakes and it’s full of military gravesites…
We went this summer and had a blast.
My question was earnestly asked, respectfully phrased, and addressed to somebody else. Your snarky comments were uncalled for.
As were yours.
IMHO, cemeteries vary. Some are formal, solemn, maybe religious or private, with ongoing burials, families visiting the graves of the deceased, a site for religious ceremonies, people praying. Whereas the Decatur Cemetery is public (right?), historic, connected to a city park, and landscaped with a pond, benches, ducks. It’s kind of park-like, monument-like. Do new burials still occur there or is it full? In all the times I’ve walked or cycled through the Cemetery, I’ve never seen anyone kneeling or praying. I’m not sure I’ve seen any new burials either. It would be wrong to be disrespectful of the graves there but I think a nice fundraiser is appropriate, especially if the fundraiser is for the cemetery itself.
While I empathize with your position, and certainly do not fault you for it, I personally wonder if there comes a point where reverence for the dead can be acknowledged without compromising a very worthy cause for the living. The Kitchen Garden is life-changing resource for our refugee families with the side benefit of bringing a variety of fresh, local produce to our area and encouraging healthier lifestyles for all. I have to think that those resting in the cemetery wouldn’t really have an objection to that (nor even the alcoholic beverage component of a fundraiser celebrating and benefiting it). It’s not like they’re holding a mud wrestling competition or something.
One of the things I find most endearing about the Decatur Cemetery is that it is such an inextricable part of our city (both geographically and conceptually). It’s not meant to be set apart, cordoned off and silent, reserved only for mourning or silent remembrance. It’s a living, breathing part of the community. I don’t know about you, but I know I would want to rest where I knew some memory of me would reside surrounded by the living, that my resting place was not only for reflecting on death but for celebrating life. It’s not an either/or proposition. Who says the people that exercise or walk their dogs (hopefully on leash) there do not also recognize it as a sacred place? Knowing someone resting there is a not a prerequisite to appreciating the cemetery’s purpose and value. I know when I walk there with my infant sons, I cannot help but think about the sense of history and community, and the interplay of life, death, and rebirth. If I was attending this event, I would be just as mindful of where I was.
Just my two cents.
Beautifully put, Lump. I actually lean a bit more toward Mr. B.’s POV (I know, shocking) with regard to having this affair there, but what you said makes a lot of sense.
Surely a learned man such as Mr. B has actually read the city code which provides that special permits can be received for the public consumption of alcoholic beverages in places where it is otherwise prohibited, similar to our many festivals that occur throughout the city.
Unless, that is, Mr. B has an agenda here.
Thanks Marty and yes, I have an agenda. I express the personal views of Chris Billingsley. I do so on this blog and at city commission and school board meetings (both rarely). I like to think that my actions as a citizen, volunteering in my neighborhood and at my church, working hard to support my family, and trying to be a friend to all, even with those with whom I have strong disagreements with are my best characteristics. Most of the time, I try to have fun on this blog but occasionally, I am motivated to do something more, write a letter to a businessperson, express my views at a commission meeting or with a candidate. No big deal. Not running for office. Don’t want to change anyones opinion. Rarely respond to criticism. Don’t mind if people disagree with me. Proud of my name.
But I do have strong opinions, especially about this affair at the cemetery.
I may not always agree with you, Chris (then again, I often do), but I am happy to see you defend yourself to those who so easily disparage and dismiss you.
Your posts are always a good counterpoint to the cynicism, snobbishness (is that a word?) and pettiness so embedded in the comments on this blog. Thank you for reminding us of what is important in life.
If you’re seriously positing the comments here as the height of “cynicism, snobbishness and pettiness,” then you’ll definitely want to avoid YouTube, Reddit, the AJC — let’s just say the rest of the known Internet.
There are few comments sections more considerate, thoughtful and respectful than those you find here, and I include this discussion among them. Why the hyperbole?
Fair point on the rest of the internet.
I didn’t mean to sound hyperbolic (not sure if that’s a word, either…), nor do I consider the comments to be the height of those negative descriptors. It’s just that I view DM as a neighborhood discussion site, and I guess my expectation is that neighbors treat each other better than we often do here (I’m not excluding myself; I am just as guilty). I realize I should not be surprised when people say hurtful things to each other here, but I guess I am.
Anyway, you are correct that DM comments are more respectful than 99% of what’s out there. But sometimes I still find myself disappointed at the occasional mean streak some of us possess.
I guess I would just like to know what your objection is?
Is it the fact that they are having this dinner at all what you object to? The consumption of alcoholic beverages? Both?
Or is this just a continuation of your theme of protecting “old Decatur” vs. “new Decatur” and you consider this event very “new Decatur?”
Regarding your “just another green space” comment, historically, in the 19th Century particularly, citizens treated cemeteries just as that. Families would come to cemeteries and take carriage rides, have picnics, do other leisure activities. I would think that you would support the cemetery reverting back to its historic role in our community.
BTW, don’t expect a response from Mr B – he just lobs things out and walks away.
Are you kidding? He has stated his position a couple times now in a thoughtful reasoned way (matters not if you and I agree). What else is there to say? So much for Decatur and it’s open-mindedness and diversity. I guess it is only if you agree with it. I always forget that…
My point is that he never responds to defend his position to those who may disagree with him. He’s always one post and gone.
I think he made his position clear this time.
He posted a response here, which was thoughtfully laid out… actually two responses if you read further down. He also explained that he likes to state his opinion but rarely responds to criticism. The way many folks negatively jump on Mr. B’s comments is very mean spirited and disturbing IMO. Why can’t people respect a different point of view? Not everybody is gonna want a celebration in the cemetery, no matter how politically correct the theme is. Is that really so hard to understand? As far as I can tell, part of the appeal to some people for this event is the fact that it is somewhat taboo/unorthodox to have a party at a cemetery. Fun for some, especially the new decatur crowd, but not everyone.
Walrus has us Decatur libs all figured out again. We’re all the same. Always. So predictable. Glad you’re there ol’ Wally to keep us seeing the folly of our ways.
1) That is absolutely hilarious coming from you, the King of Generalization.
2) I don’t think any group is “all the same.” That’s my point there, sport.
2) I made absolutely no reference to “libs”. Funny you made that connection though…
3) You are very welcome.
Oh damn. He played the “sport” card. Get the children out of here and take cover!
Ha! I actually cringed myself when I wrote it.
That’s right, Wal, this statement: “So much for Decatur and it’s open-mindedness and diversity” doesn’t have you painting with a broad brush at all. You would never do that based on one comment on an anonymous blog. Good one, bro, tell it again.
One comment! Ha! That’s good stuff. I didn’t say everyone in Decatur is close-minded, champ. I was stating that open-mindedness is what Decatur is supposed to be about. You seem to have a real hard time with words sometimes.
Actually, I still have no idea what Mr. B’s position is on the proper use of the public cemetery grounds. All I know is that he is “against it.” What, I don’t know.
Don’t worry Marty, no one really knows what anyone’s saying ’round here. Doesn’t matter anyway.
Thanks. The following comments were made at the August 19 City Commission meeting. I hope this clarifies my objections to the event.
City of Decatur Commission Meeting
Requests and Petitions
Good Evening. My name is Chris Billingsley,
It has come to my attention that the city has issued an alcohol serve permit for a fundraiser to be held in the Decatur cemetery on September 7. As a life-long Decatur resident and homeowner, as well as someone who has family and friends buried in the cemetery, I want to state my reasons for opposing this permit.
The cemetery is our Arlington, where we continue to honor the sacrifices of more than forty members of the armed forces who gave their lives so we could live in freedom, peace and comfort. But it also much more. It is the final resting place for many Decatur citizens. For almost two hundred years, both great and near great men and women have been laid to rest here. They and their descendants believed that this sacred park would be treated with reverence and that all official activities would reflect the quiet dignity associated with this purpose. City sponsored events, especially those that do not reflect this purpose, should be subject to the strictest scrutiny by city officials. I do not believe that this function, which has nothing to do with the primary purpose of the cemetery, passes this test.
My biggest objection to this event is the inclusion of alcohol. I believe it sends the wrong message to young people, suggesting that it is sometimes permissible to drink alcohol and party at the cemetery. We already have a problem in remote parts of the old cemetery, with teenagers and young adults, consuming alcohol and engaging in dangerous behaviors at night. This event will allow for the excessive consumption of alcohol. There is no limit on the number of drinks a person could consume. Some of the guests will leave this event intoxicated, driving their vehicles onto Church Street, a road well known for excessive speeding and dangerous driving habits. This also sets a precedent for more alcohol related functions at other locations, such as Glen Lake Park and McCoy Park. I do not believe it is prudent to allow this in our public spaces that are primarily reserved for family activities.
I am told that this function will be held around the pond, an area that is not really part of the cemetery. However there are more than a hundred graves in close proximity to the event location. My parents and two sisters are buried nearby on the hill overlooking the site. I knew quite a few of those buried here but one stands out, a Decatur High School graduate who was killed by someone driving under the influence. Does the city not dishonor the memory of this student by allowing the consumption of alcohol nearby?
(In addressing the commission, I changed “city” to “permit” thinking that it was better to criticize the permit rather than the city government).
In the future, I hope that you deny alcohol serve permits to events planned at the cemetery and all city parks. Thank you for allowing me to share my views on this important subject. If possible, I ask that my comments be submitted into the official record for this meeting.
Decatur, GA. 30030
Probably at the children’s home.
Looks like a killer menu.
Eat the dead!
Alcohol permit aside, I cannot get over the ewww factor of eating in a graveyard.
A Victorian you are not, sir!
People in East Atlanta do it all the time. Though there can be an “ewww factor” while there as well.
Hmph. You’ll never make it as a zombie with that attitude.
I want to thank Decatur Metro for posting this event, and sharing what we know will be a wonderful celebration of community, great food, and the incredible work of the international refugee farmers who have made Decatur’s Kitchen Garden such a great success. As the Director of Global Growers Network, the nonprofit project leading the garden, I know first-hand that the thirty families who grow food at the garden are thrilled to harvest 100′s of lbs of fresh, healthy foods this summer. Many of the growers are international refugees – war survivors – who are building new lives in Decatur and the nearby communities. This source of food and community truly means a lot to them and it’s a wonderful chance for them to share the bounty of their harvest as well!