As cremation rates in the United States continue to soar, a group of Maryland residents are seeking a permanent space where people can have their remains scattered.
The Washington Post reports Jennifer Beman and her Takoma Park neighbors are asking the city to create the country's first public "scatter garden," where residents' remains would be scattered freely.
Beman, who presented the idea to the City Council this fall, envisions using one of the city's existing gardens and creating a wall for names on plaques.
Data shows cremations climbed from a quarter of deaths in 2000 to almost 49 percent in 2015. Barbara Kemmis, head of the Cremation Association of North America, estimates a third of families scatter remains out in the world.
More than 160 Takoma Park residents have signed a petition in support of the proposal. "Takoma Park holds a special place in the hearts of her residents. No doubt many people's ashes have already been scattered around the city, surreptitiously and anonymously," the petition says. "A small garden in an appropriate spot would give residents a place to come and reflect and remember departed family, friends or neighbors."
The city's public works department said they did not expect the garden would require much upkeep. City Council member Peter Kovar told the Post it would be unusual for the city to take on the project.
“I can totally understand why people want to do this,” he said. “But just because something is a nice idea doesn’t mean it’s a municipal function.”