Where Has The Dialogue Been?
Michael Kuo, Municipal Art Society
I brought a written statement to talk about the memorial visions of the Imagine New York process, but I find myself compelled to talk about participation. Imagine New York was a public participation project among others. There was Listening To The City in July, and the New York New Visions/Alan Gerson workshops in November, and now here we are today. We've seen good participation and bad participation, and that shouldn't be measured really in good ideas or bad ideas, but really in the productivity of the discussion. And I don't feel that waiting for three hours -- I've been here since before six o'clock - is a good form of participation. The public process isn't over now, so we have a chance to fix it, but I'm wondering where Listening To The City went, and where the lessons of Imagine New York and New York New Visions went.
Just to talk a little bit about what I brought here today, Imagine New York occurred in the spring, before the Port Authority was a loud player, before the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation had a staff, really. Before, we had six plans, and now nine plans. We asked the public to come in and talk about three things: what have we lost, how have we changed, and imagine the future. We asked people to re-experience their lives after the World Trade Center and in New York City since. And what came out were beautiful statements crafted by the public themselves. I have eight here, and I'll just read one, but I'll go through the topics, and I don't think the topics have changed. This document has existed since June. Where has the dialogue been?
The first is remember and honor the victims of September 11 at the World Trade Center site, and it reads, "an inclusive, international memorial should be designed at the World Trade Center site that memorializes all the victims of September 11, including Washington and Pennsylvania as well as New York, not the violence. The memorial should capture the magnitude of collective loss, but should also honor the individual victims and their lives in an egalitarian, in an equal way, with a physical symbol or representation of each individual." I don't know why it took a special committee to come up with that.
The other comments were create a living memorial, erect a memorial monument, incorporate a memorial museum telling the individual stories of the victims, bring back the Tribute in Light and respect the site as hallowed ground. All this has been around for a while, and I think it's time to exchange in a really fruitful discussion about it at this time.