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Triangle Memorial Meeting minutes December 9, 2010 6:30 pm, Museum at Eldridge St. Welcome from Hanna Griff-Slevin, who invited everyone to return for a tour of the museum. Ruth Sergel thanked Hanna and the Eldridge St. Synagogue Museum; noted the beauty of the new rose window by KiKi Smith. LuLu emailed links to videos of Eldridge St. with before images of the synagogue window and the process of making the stained glass window: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7119795n This clip shows the Eldridge concert, a full-length Isle of Klezbos video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG2qVJIJxk0 Ruth shared the progress of the memorial to date; Described as a “people’s memorial” that will include diverse communities: NYU, FDNY, GVSHP, WU, CB2, historians, artists, family, Italian & Jewish Communities and . . . Search for artist by RFQ (Kendal Henry public arts administrator) Ruth announced that Janet Zweig had been selected as the memorial artist; this meeting continues the process of public participation. Ruth asked the assembled group to “release” any preconceived ideas about physical memorials and likened the conceptual process with an orchestral metaphor: individuals play instruments, but right now only Janet can hear the whole orchestra. Janet showed PowerPoint memorial examples: • NYC: Chalk Project for Triangle (begun 2004) • Germany: Brass plaques inset in cobblestone sidewalks in front of the homes of Nazi deportees • Ghost Bikes • Upside-down memorial for Charles LaTrobe • NYC Irish Hunger Memorial by Brian Tolle in Battery Park • Brian Tolle’s plan for Flatbush Avenue Streetscape • Towers of Light for 9-11 • Germany: Ashcroft Fountain recreated • Hamburg: Harbor monument against facism • Janet Zweig’s Pittsburgh Mellon Park project (with a landscape architect) Ruth asked attendees to share their names and what they wanted in a memorial. Here are responses. • tactile and touchable (reference to the FDNY museum’s 9-11 memorial) • speak to young people; incite curiosity, and be respectful • 146 people went to work and did not come home. Memorial should reflect the pain that the families endured, educate, and be inspirational so that future generations of workers protect their safety • suggestion for a symbolic memorial – 146 prisms, triangles, tactile; linear (comparison to Vietnam Veteran’s memorial) • not be pedantic history 1


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3 memorials for Triangle victims already exist: Longwood memorial at Evergreens Cemetery, ILGWU and Workmen’s Circle memorials at Mount Zion cemetery. “Numbing list” of names shouldn’t be part of the memorial express how Italian and Jewish immigrants came together in the union movement; how to portray shared values; learn from the memorial about how to treat people today question about the possible site for the memorial; a too-esoteric design might detract from the story; the memorial needs to be solemn, emotional, representative of all the different groups, and inclusive but not biased be riveting, engaging, honor the tragic loss, tell the story, be relevant to today, be a destination that people want to visit; possibly do something each March 25th evoke emotion engage visitors; tell its story; not be just memories of the past, be a place people want to come to and bring guests, make use of central location have the 146 names because families want the names; not be esoteric or ethereal; bring people’s attention to the problems that the tragedy points to and convey feeling that it should never happen again be a destination memorial because of its impact on safety standards across the country be thoughtful, educational, hopeful; young people should come away with hope that collaboration and action can improve lives provide a sense of reconnection with immigrant group; inspire young people with a collective spirit have impact with youth; not lose sight of women’s strength (they were hard workers) have an interactive component; show that something is missing – absence convey the need for workers to know their rights; they were trapped but protective laws enacted

Janet showed a list of her questions for open discussion. Comments included: • Chalk provides a sense of circuitry; provides youth with idea about how victims lived. Chalk is powerful but the memorial should have greater impact, permanence. • The Triangle Coalition postcards that have stickers with victims’ names and ages are impactful – people are moved to outrage; want to prevent similar tragedies • There is a Triangle memorial in Albany that is exhibited in the Statehouse annually; otherwise it is kept in the Albany museum (impermanent) • “Memorial Mania” - Janet described Lowell, MA, (has 92 memorials); thinking how to convey the spirit of collectivity that emerged in the Uprising strike; memorials evoke sorrow but also inspiration, hope, thought that people did not die in vain. Discussion of terminology: commemoration rather than celebration • Triangle was a historically powerful moment; how to get young people to stop and look 2


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“Mad Men” as instructive to young women about how recently women were treated badly memorial should “electrify” young people, draw immigrants, cross class boundaries, make story relevant, be able to go back in time yet feel connection show that women had agency, they tried to change conditions an “awakening” – 146 deaths made people realize that change needed to happen; people had begun to come together, but not romanticize how the collective worked; it took a tragedy for people to come together; “sacrificial” a powerful message when workers couldn’t secure their rights the tragedy galvanized the union movement; outcomes include Exit signs, fire extinguishers, building codes . . . don’t turn victims into heroes or martyrs; don’t lose sight of them as regular people

Janet showed a slide photo of the Asch Building. She disclosed that NYU has refused to allow use of the Stern Business Plaza. Discussion of the possibilities for memorials continued: Plaques on the building say “on this site” as if the building were gone, but the actual building still exists (not like 9-11, WTC collapse). You could work there . . . Could say “in this building.” Janet discussed difficulty with placement in Washington Square Park; problems with the Parks Dept; City wants to disperse art around the city. The Brown (Asch) Building is Landmarked = limitation on use of building as memorial site. Janet expressed ideas about connections between the top of the building and the ground for the viewer. Talked about how inside of the building is full and devoted to laboratories; windows seen from outside; annual lighting on 3/25? Talk about how design needs to attract people to it. Discussion of what is outside Brown Building: eg cement flower planters, newspaper distribution boxes; whether sidewalks still have vaults underneath; glass embedded in sidewalks, bodies went through the sidewalks; would need to get permission to use sidewalks – suggestion of stained glass; fire escapes in airshaft have no public access. Ruth told the group that there is an upcoming meeting (Wed 12/15?) with NYU and Landmarks (& CB2, others?). Janet said that the rules would allow for extending the architecture of the building. Question of maintenance; responsibility; NYU in discussion of maintenance plan. Noted that time of day might be an important quality in the memorial; eg the Korean War memorial in Battery Park. Ruth and Janet thanked Hanna & Eldridge St. museum for hosting meeting. Ruth asked attendees for more feedback via email to her and to MaryAnn (Memorial Committee cochair). Meeting adjourned at 8:30. Respectfully submitted, Andi Sosin

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Eldridge Street Meeting with Artist