Walk of Heroines project receives funding

An appreciation gathering was held yesterday in Smith Center to officially thank the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) building and fee committee for their 200,000 dollar contribution to the walk of the heroines project.

The aim of the project is to develop an area where everyone can relax, socialize, reflect, and most importantly, honor women.

A brochure explains that the project “pays tribute to the rich spectrum of women’s activities… and in so doing it also takes a step toward correcting for the historical neglect of women in the naming of Portland’s parks.”

The contribution from the building and fee committee allowed the project team to hire the design services of architects Teresa Chenney and Irene Bowers from the Mayer/Reed architectural firm.

Barbara Linn, project manager and designer, said they will be determining the costs and other details over the next three months. She said, “A bunch of ideas have been in the drawings, now we need to focus and work on vision and solidification.”

Questions remaining to be answered are: Where will names of women go? How does the layout work? What materials are needed? How expensive will it be?

Johanna Brenner, project coordinator and women’s studies department chair, thanked the student building and fee committee for their contribution as well as many community connections, students and other faculty. She also thanked University President Daniel O. Bernstine who was in attendance.

Shane Jordan, board member of the building and fee committee, reminded everyone of the role that the Oregon University System, the Oregon legislature and Bernstine played in making the contribution possible.

Linn emphasized that students from the women’s studies department helped immensely in raising the “seed money” to fund the project. She singled out Holly Locke, who made the presentation for funding to the committee.

The women’s studies department began the project three years ago with the idea to create a place with beautiful art and a garden where people in the community can honor those who have been heroines to them.

The initial idea has since evolved into a detailed vision of a “walk” full of symbolic meaning. Four structural elements including a pathway, fountain, and a curving wall will create three outdoor “rooms”, each with a different purpose.

The first “room”, called “beginnings,” will be located at the entrance to Hoffman Hall next to a fountain. It will serve as a lively area to socialize and have fun.

The second room, called “speaking out,” will include a raised platform for speakers surrounded by seating for an audience.

The third room, called “reflections,” will be a relaxing, more secluded place to meditate and contemplate among lush plant life and a “calming pool of water.”

The fourth room, called “interactions,” will provide a space for intimate conversation.

Another feature of the walk will be a kiosk with a computer displaying information about each heroine.

Terese Chenney, Mayer-Reed architect, hopes this project will be a snapshot in time while addressing a history of women.

Brenner and Linn are especially excited for the “walk” to become a place of history for younger generations.

Their goal is to develop “timeless components” of the walk that are historical, but will not seem dated in the future.

A large part of the project’s success depends on contributions from the community. Contributors are to be rewarded by having the opportunity to name a heroine in the “walk.” While the minimum contribution required to have this opportunity is 200 dollars, people with “limited means” may make small monthly payments.

When choosing a heroine, Linn explained that any woman who has made a contribution that others recognize as important can be honored, and added, “it is for community members to say who in their lives has been a heroine.”

The project has received much recognition and support from the community. Former Governor of Oregon Barbara Roberts wrote in a letter to Brenner, “… the project’s creativity and format are a fitting way to amend for our culture’s slow pace in recognizing women’s role in our society.”

Gubernatorial candidate Beverly Stein and Portland Mayor Vera Katz are two more of the many supporters.

The university has also been a major supporter throughout the last three years. The Commission on Women endorsed the walk; the university donated the land; and the facilities department is sponsoring the services of Linn.

Financial contributions will also fund an endowment for the women’s studies department. The interest earned on that endowment will fund scholarships for women’s studies students and community programs.

To make a contribution, or for more information, call 503-725-8188 or go to the walk of the heroines Web site at www.woh.pdx.edu.