Portland City Council yesterday unanimously supported a significant step forward for ensuring an inclusive community engagement process to determine the future of Portland’s monuments, and accepted a $350,000 Mellon Foundation grant for the work ahead.
In January, the City Arts Program partnered with Lewis & Clark College to form the Monuments Engagement Process Committee and develop recommendations for considering how the City should lead community engagement around five monuments that were toppled or removed during the 2020 protests, as well as guidelines for considering new monuments in the future.
The committee’s report was accepted by City Council Wednesday and “includes recommendations for a creative public engagement process guided by an approach that builds on conflict transformation, with collaboration and capacity building as the cornerstones.”
"For many years the City has decided in isolation who needs to be honored via monuments, and when those decisions were made, our city looked very different,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “I am excited to support a new approach to ensure our City’s monuments are grounded in inclusion to reflect the true story of our city – both our history and who we are today. We can do both.”
City Council also accepted a $350,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Portland Monuments Project, which launched in March. Portland was one of nine municipalities to receive grant funding "to transform the nation's commemorative landscape through public projects that more completely and accurately represent the municipality and complexity of American stories."
The significant investment by the Mellon Foundation will enable the City of Portland to make substantial progress in implementing the recommendations presented by the Monument Engagement Process Committee and support community engagement and policy development for the five toppled monuments, as well as the development of guidelines for future monuments.
By actively involving the community in the decision-making process, the City aims to honor the rich cultural heritage of the region while ensuring monuments reflect the values and asportations of present-day Portland.
"Portland's Monuments Project showcases the power of good community engagement, leading to stronger public policy,” said Culture & Livability Commissioner Dan Ryan. “With support from the Mellon Foundation, we're creating a transformative playbook for responding to destruction and vandalism, demonstrating how we can resolve conflicts peacefully.”