People in conversation

Monuments, Mascots, and Naming: A Guide to Conversations About Community & Memory


Monuments for individuals and events, the honorary names of schools, streets, or buildings, and the selection of team mascots have long been the focus of controversy and conflict. Even monuments that have been in parks for longer than anyone can remember, the ones we hardly notice at all, have become a source of sometimes contentious public discussion.  

All of these choices ask important questions about the values that a community holds, how we remember the story of our past, and who we want to become together.

Every generation must confront these questions anew, as each brings their own perspectives. Not only that, but their views on an earlier generation’s choices may shift as well.

Today this process raises many other contentious issues, such as race, class, and gender as well as regional identities and family histories. It can touch upon a person’s own experiences and sense of self. Part of the issue is who gets to decide and whose voice is included.

Drawn from real-world cases, the dialogues outlined in this guide are designed to help you explore all these interconnected issues through conversations that bring you into greater mutual understanding and a renewed sense of belonging. 

Sometimes, these dialogues lead directly to collective decisions about the statue, mascot, or building in question. Other times, they are one step in a much longer process of discernment and discussion. Always, they make it possible for a community to live into the complexity and messiness of its diverse identities and viewpoints.

If you need additional support, do not hesitate to reach out. Schedule a free consultation call with a member of our program team today.