In this age of information overload, it’s easy for us to miss interesting and important news. In case you haven’t heard yet or been downtown lately, there is a monument being erected on the Capitol Hill grounds which will serve to acknowledge, remember, and celebrate the contributions women have made to local, state, and national history. I had the opportunity to speak with one of Library of Virginia’s librarians Sandy Treadway to find out how this idea of a fitting tribute became a reality. Sandy, who is also a member of the Women’s Monument Commission, has been involved with this endeavor for several years and says it was “the brainchild of a woman in the late 80’s who felt that women’s contributions and vital roles in our history weren’t being fairly represented”, and she wanted to change that. As it turns out, a lot of people agreed with her. Shortly thereafter the Commission was created, a resolution was submitted to the House and Senate and passed in 2011, and the project was officially underway. “I had to pinch myself” Sandy says, she “never thought it would be easy to get approval.” Now the real work could begin: finding an appropriate site, establishing focus groups and gathering feedback, and requesting design visualizations from sculptors and artists. The focus groups were careful to include a rich and diverse community population including women from several college campuses, and with their input a name for the project was born: Voices from the Garden. It was important to the Commission that the monument not be representative of many women, but rather feature specific women who had helped change history in a tangible, measurable manner. “We wanted it to be about real women with real stories”, Sandy explains, “so kids could see them as role models and say ‘I can be on that one day!’” To that same point, the visitors will be met with the exhibit at eye-level, symbolizing the accessibility of the women and their stories. When asked what the most difficult part of the project has been, she remarked “Selecting the women, by far. We chose from 200 proposed candidates, with the primary condition being they must be deceased; their life stories are finished in totality. We also focused on the geographical distribution of the women, whose lives spanned four centuries of VA history.”
To see updates on the progress, information about the dedication planned for October 2019, and to assist in funding this exciting project, check out http://womensmonumentcom.virginia.gov/ .