At long last, Charlottesville, Virginia, is removing -- at least from prominent locations -- four obnoxiously pro-war and racist monuments (those of George Rogers Clark, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Lewis-Clark-and-Sacajawea). Cheers. Applause. Good riddance.
But the idea of creating a monument in C'ville to something other than war or genocide or bigotry wasn't merely a compromise position in the debate over whether to remove these monuments. We really need public monuments to things we can be wholeheartedly proud of.
I happened to read an article with photos (the one on this fundraiser is borrowed from there) describing a pair of new monuments in central public spaces, one in a city in Poland and one in a city in Lithuania. Each is a vertical circle about 10 feet high with a possibly marble ring enclosing a round video screen showing in real-time exactly what people are doing in front of the other identical circle in the other city — typically waving back at you.
It occured to me that I live in a city in desperate need of monuments that pose a reduced risk of becoming shameful with the passage of years. Here, I thought, is a type of monument that doesn’t glorify some past individual (hate to break the news, but they are ALL flawed) or even glorify some other city (they’ve all done bad stuff). Rather, it serves to communicate and bring closer and make real, people in another place, living active growing changing people — not stone heroes on horseback.
Charlottesville has five sister cities, and could add more. Imagine a public space in Charlottesville with five of these “portals” and room for more. Each could carry the name of a sister city, plus the live video from a public space in that city — plus perhaps a display of what time it is there. We could start with a pair of "portals" between Charlottesville and one of its sister cities. We could inquire as to the interest and ability of the sister cities to pay for their end, or Charlottesville could make this a gift to its sisters.
There are two hurdles here. One is approval by the city government. The other is funding. I've spoken with enough people, including current and former officials, to be confident that solving the funding problem would solve the approval problem as well. There's interest and support. What would put this over the top would be a commitment to fund it. Can you help us make that commitment?
I will not be touching a dime of this money or even connecting any bank account to this fundraiser until there is a confirmed agreement with the City to use the money for this monument, at which time I will be donating every dime of it (minus any fees taken by gofundme) to the City for this purpose.
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