Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Waitsfield, VT


Urban Death Project Launched; Founder Katrina Spade Named One of the World's Emerging Social Innovators

Kate Stephenson
Jul 1, '14 9:47 PM EST


June 25, 2014

Echoing Green has named Seattle-based designer and Yestermorrow alumna Katrina Spade a 2014 Climate Fellow, so that she can launch the Urban Death Project. This prestigious fellowship supports next generation social entrepreneurs committed to working on innovations in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Spade is one of ten Climate Fellows who will receive seed funding and technical assistance to help launch their organizations and build capacity to succeed.

The Urban Death Project ( is an alternative system for the care and processing of the deceased. The Project uses the natural process of composting to safely and gently transform human bodies into nutrient-rich soil building material. Katrina designed the Urban Death Project after finding  “there was no ecological option for the urban dweller. The Project was inspired by the natural burial movement, a rural option that is deeply respectful of both the human body and the earth. The truth is, our bodies are full of potential, and we can give back one final time, if we choose.”

As an Echoing Green Climate Fellow, Spade will spend the next two years working to bring the Urban Death Project from concept to reality. “It’s time for a new alternative to the existing options for the disposal of our dead. More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. It is no longer a viable option to have our bodies pumped with toxic chemicals, wrapped in raw materials, and buried in individual plots where they take up precious arable land.” The Urban Death Project creates a place to honor the dead on a neighborhood scale, and supports sustainable cities by engaging inhabitants in issues of soil health, resource depletion, and climate change. It is both a new technology and a new ritual for the disposal of the deceased in urban centers, aimed at addressing the environmental crisis and creating a cultural shift around death.

About Katrina Spade:
Spade is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Master of Architecture degree, and holds a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College and a Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design from Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Her design work focuses on the mutually beneficial relationships between humans and nature, and on the physical spaces in which these relationships exist.

Spade has worked in the design and construction field for ten years, bringing human-centered, ecologically beneficial projects to fruition. Recent projects include a series of renovations in the Pacific Northwest as part of a design/build partnership, a set of environmental guidelines for the design and construction of  university campus buildings, and a prototype of a compost-driven heating system for small-scale farms. More of her work can be found at

About Echoing Green:
Echoing Green unleashes next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Echoing Green is a nonprofit social venture fund that identifies, invests in, and supports some of the world’s best emerging social entrepreneurs—society’s change agents. Because they believe human capital is the most important asset class, and understand the difficulties faced by social innovators who challenge the status quo with bold ideas for a better world, Echoing Green invests deeply in these next generation change agents while creating around them an administrative structure that supports and celebrates social innovation as a high-impact strategy for social change. 
Read about all of Echoing Green’s programming by visiting

Katrina Spade, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
Founder, the Urban Death Project
[email protected]