Sioux City Journal | Published October 26, 2013
Author: Nate Robson
Private fundraising has started for a $540,000 sculpture park celebrating Sioux City’s cultural and racial diversity.
Mark Avery, the lead artist for the Diversity Sculpture Park project, said about $70,000 has been raised through grants since April. Private fundraising is expected to last through the next six months in order to raise the remainder of the funds.
The park, to be located downtown along the Nebraska Street side of the Martin Luther King Jr. Transportation Center, will include busts of 14 community leaders who have made contributions to their often marginalized communities. Those populations include the Hispanic, black, Jewish and Native American communities.
The bronze busts will be mounted on pedestals alongside the building with plaques indicating why the person was honored.
There also will be an information Kiosk inside the transportation center, as well as a 50-foot long and 23-foot tall arch so visitors can sit in the grassy area between Nebraska Street and the sidewalk.
“None of these people ever expected to be honored for their work,” Avery said of the honorees. “This project gives people in those communities a role model. Whether you’re Hispanic, Native American or black, you can be of service to your community in a very special way.”
Avery and his wife, Terri, first proposed the diversity park to community leaders. They formed a nonprofit organization, the Celebrating Community Foundation, which is tentatively finalizing agreements with the families of three people being honored with a bust, and is in talks with eight more families. Nominees for the youth and Hispanic categories are still being finalized.
Jan Pouson, a member of the foundation, said few people know about the city’s residents who have really made a difference in their communities. Poulson said the people honored in the park are Sioux City’s equivalent of the nation’s greatest civil rights leaders.
“It’s a really cool project that’s full of heart,” she said. “There’s nothing like it in the country.”
Avery hopes to open the park in the fall of 2014, but that may be a difficult goal to meet.
One of the hardest parts is whittling down a field of great candidates in a manner that does not leave members of the community feeling snubbed.
“We are trying to do this project in a way that respects the families,” Avery said.
As printed in the Sioux City Journal. Please visit www.SiouxCityJournal.com for full article.