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Donor recognition at Sonoma monument is inappropriate 

Posted on September 11, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

I respect the concerns of City Councilmembers and agree that it is inappropriate to include donor recognition at the Ting Memorial. The honor bestowed upon the Chinese laborers – who languished in anonymity for over a century – would be diminished by the presence of donor plaques and bricks. It would be far more appropriate to engrave the names of the laborers, or simply place a plaque in honor of the unknown. 

It is appropriate for the City to deliberate all aspects of donor recognition, including the ongoing maintenance and social equity issues. As donor plaques proliferate in our parks, meeting spaces, and other public places, there are social and aesthetic impacts. Socially, the prominent placement of donor plaques serves more as a reminder of the growing economic divide between the haves and have nots. The aesthetic impact is that of visual blight, no different than outdoor advertising. 

Donor recognition on public property should be at the discretion of the City Council. Context is everything. For sensitive topics or in certain locations, donor signs should be disallowed. When appropriate, permanent donor signs should be discreet and blend in. There are several examples of public benefit projects on City lands where donor recognition is subtle with acknowledgements on temporary signs or as subtext on interpretive panels. These forms of recognition pay tribute to donors without dominating or cluttering public spaces.

— Mark Newhouser, Glen Ellen



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