A note on the wall during the Urban Death Projects October design charrette.
The text of a note I found on the wall during the Urban Death Project's October design charrette.

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At the beginning of the month, The Stranger published a story about the Urban Death Project, Katrina Spade's proposal for a third road beyond burial and cremation: compost. Since it was published, people have been asking me about the status of the project and how they can contribute.

Here you go: Last night, the Urban Death Project launched a Kickstarter campaign, and 127 people have already ponied up about $20,000 of the $75,000 goal. There are all kinds of gifts for donors, from postcards and T-shirts to a reserved spot in the first UDP to an event of your choosing with Spade and mortician/author Caitlin Doughty.

Courtesy of the Urban Death Project

The Kickstarter page details the current status of the project and what the next steps are. In Spade's words: "detailing of the aeration and hydration systems, the material screening and finishing systems, and the structural design of the core."

The core, if you haven't read the article, is the three-story structure that bodies will be laid into at the top, then progress downwards through wood chips and other organic matter—the speed of the descent will be regulated by gravity and microbial activity—before reaching the bottom as enriched soil.

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Spade is already working with Western Carolina University's human decomposition facility (colloquially known as a "body farm," though the university prefers the former term), where students of forensics and anthropology study the natural decomposition of people who've donated their remains.

Building a prototype at WCU and seeing what works is a key step in researching how the first official Urban Death Project will function.

You can read more than you possibly want to know about it all in the Stranger article, and find out more granular detail about the status of the UDP on its Kickstarter page.

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