If Asheville and Buncombe citizens are not aware already, the Pack Square Plaza Visioning project is more or less ending its initial phase this month. The design workshop for Pack Square Plaza is Friday, Jan. 13 [avl.mx/c9m]. The draft vision document follows in the spring.
First, in my opinion, it is no longer necessary for the city land in front of City Hall and the courthouse — and especially not the Pack Square site where the Vance Monument stood — to be named after George Pack any longer. The name I would like to see the people of Asheville and Buncombe consider is Unity Future Park and Unity Future Square. I think a clock tower can go where the Vance Monument is … and the obelisk court challenge needs to conclude as a result of whatever this visioning process leads to.
I came up with the name Unity Future a year ago. Since then, I learned Greenville, S.C., developed its Unity Park and opened it last year [avl.mx/cas]. It’s a big deal for Greenville. The background in the Greenville case is relevant, and the answer to the question of “Why use the word unity?” is apparent. It’s important to go over how the term unity was introduced with the original Vance Monument dedication and then at the rededication just in 2015.
I don’t really care if someone comes up with a better name than Unity Future. Some may insist on honoring a public figure versus using a concept like “unity plus future.” I think renaming this “public commons” area is important at the cognitive level as to what Asheville and Buncombe are to be about for the rest of the 21st century. Then, ideally at least, the more tangible transformations many are seeking — versus “just more visioning” — may fall in place more readily.
“The Vance Monument had no Confederacy symbols, and the demolition was a pointless waste of taxpayer funds.” That’s a paraphrase synthesizing several local comments on the obelisk demolition and related legal case. There are many things I am not in unison about, and yet I am totally on board with defying such ethics as what that darned obelisk was really about.
Finally, it is deserved to add that, for me, Unity Future is not just the name of a park and a possible clock tower.
I have more details. This is just a quick letter to the editor.
Also, I personally invite CWDs (Citizens with Disabilities) of all ages to also participate in this and other strategy work … and not just as to the continued meager Americans with Disabilities Act assurances from the city of Asheville, as exampled in the Pack Square Plaza Visioning project here: “ADA access needs for the raised lawn on the northeast end of the square.”
That’s not exactly an equity-based outreach headline directed to the many CWDs residing in Asheville and Buncombe County.
Happy New Year!
— Grant Millin
Editor’s note: Millin notes that he’s a strategy innovator and longtime Asheville resident.