sweet auburn | 2021 volume i
David Barnett on Climate Action and Sustainability
By Candace Currie Director of Planning & Cemetery Development , Mount Auburn Cemetery ( 1998-2018 ) Consultant on Climate Action & Sustainability ( 2020-current )
nder the leadership of President David Barnett , Mount Auburn Cemetery is striving for carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner .
As President of Mount Auburn since 2008 , Dave knows the next 30 years will be challenged by acts of nature and guided by acts of compassion . The Cemetery ’ s courageous , innovative , and responsive staff will be able to achieve substantive goals through clear objectives and taking tactical steps — something he has instilled in all of us . He also knows every inch of Mount Auburn ’ s landscape and how it assuages loneliness and embraces the human soul .
Hundreds of positive changes have been implemented since Dave began as Director of Horticulture in 1993 . He promoted Integrated Pest Management ( IPM ) and mulching leaves in place to enhance the organic matter in the soil instead of removing leaves from the grounds . He has championed replacement of turf with perennials , responsible and prudent irrigation practices , and letting the grass go dormant when there is severe drought . During his tenure , Mount Auburn began offering natural burials — those without liners or vaults — as a new Cemetery offering in 2014 .
The Cemetery has already noted and responded to many of the challenges of climate change . Since 2010 , greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles and equipment have been reduced by over 20 %. Goals for further reductions are being written and are scheduled to be approved by June 2021 by Mount Auburn ’ s Trustees .
These goals take into account the importance of this landscape to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Mount Auburn every year and underscore the importance and interconnectedness of all living beings : people , trees , birds , bats , even the mycorrhizae . From care of the landscape to that of the financial investments , Mount Auburn ’ s strategic themes of openness and welcome ; beauty and serenity ; and sustainability and stewardship all support a dynamic future . Dave ’ s inspiring vision for the next 30 years is now imprinted on Mount Auburn ’ s landscape . Thank you , Dave .
Dave and Ned Friedman , 2014 .
t is hard for me to even imagine Mount
I Auburn Cemetery without Dave Barnett at the helm . When I arrived at the Arnold Arboretum ten years ago , Dave surpassed all others in welcoming me to the New England gardens community . Along the way , we became collaborators in bringing our two institutions closer in terms of shared programming and shared knowledge . Perhaps most valued of all , we became lifelong friends .
I have walked the grounds of Mount Auburn with Dave many times over the last decade . Each time , Dave has opened my eyes to the history of the landscape and the importance of each individual plant . He has explained why each feature of the landscape is as it is ; how it became what it is today through careful and focused horticultural and landscape planning ; and the historical importance and grounding of each part of the landscape in the nearly 200-year narrative that is Mount Auburn . His depth of knowledge is extraordinary , and his generosity of spirit is second to none . In the end , Dave inspires ! For me , the proof of his vision and leadership in public horticulture is evident every step of the way , in every corner of the landscape . To experience Mount Auburn is to see workings of a horticultural genius .
— William ( Ned ) Friedman Director of the Arnold Arboretum Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology