Together with my co-founders Brad Milne and Jamie Knowlton, I started Better Place Forests in 2015 to provide a more beautiful alternative to cemeteries for people who choose cremation (you can read more about our journey here).
In contrast to traditional cemeteries that take up valuable and scarce urban space, we create memorial forests where families can remember their loved ones in nature. Each family can choose a private, permanently protected tree to spread ashes beneath for generations.
Since our founding, we have been hard at work locating, acquiring, and designing beautiful memorial forests.
Today, we are excited to announce our biggest milestone to date: the official opening of our first memorial forest on the Mendocino coast.
This forest, like all future forests, offers the sense of remembrance provided by a traditional cemetery, combined with the beautiful and reverent visiting experience of a state or national park. It features serene walking paths, breathtaking ocean views, and peaceful groves within a coastal redwood forest.
We found and purchased land on the Mendocino coast in 2016 and launched memorial tree pre-sales in 2017. In parallel, we worked with award-winning landscape architects from Fletcher Studio to ensure the forest is beautifully and safely designed.
We also tapped leading building architects Openscope Studio and design studio Matsys to create a Visitor's Center, perched at the edge of a hillside, to serve as the gateway to the forest for arriving visitors. The exterior of the Visitor's Center is entirely clad in rusting steel and the interior with redwood, ensuring the building will last for generations.
The completion of this design and construction marks the official launch of our forest on the Mendocino Coast.
Thousands of families have already chosen private memorial trees in our forests. It’s an honor to help people write a better ending to their story and establish a lasting legacy while conserving some of the most iconic natural lands in North America for eternity.
More to Come
We created Better Place Forests to meet the needs of a culture in flux. Despite expected growth in the cremation rate for baby boomers—from 51% today to 80% by 2035—there are very few desirable memorial options.
The existing death care industry remains focused on pushing people towards more traditional products such as expensive caskets, urns, and crypts.
We want to change that. Our vision is to reimagine the end-of-life experience and establish memorial forests across the country so that everyone has the opportunity to find their own family tree.
To achieve this goal, we recently raised $7.9 million in a Series A financing round led by True Ventures, bringing our total funding (including seed and angel) up to $11.8 million.
With this new funding, we are pursuing opportunities in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, and hoping to expand to the East Coast as soon as possible.
If you’ve been looking for a more beautiful way to end your story, a more peaceful memorial for your family to visit, a better place, look no further. We have memorial trees available for individuals, couples, and generations of family—including pets. We offer a wide range of pricing options and payment plans to make the process easy and affordable for everyone.
Written by Sandy Gibson
Sandy is the Co-founder and CEO of Better Place Forests.