Image by Damon Farber Landscape Architects

Memorial for sexual violence survivors planned for Boom Island Park

A local group is proposing to fund a memorial for survivors of sexual violence to go in Boom Island Park in Northeast Minneapolis.

Members of Break the Silence envision a permanent plaza with mosaic art pieces from a local artist, native plants and ceremonial columns that would serve as a gathering place for events in the park.

The group says the memorial would be the first of its kind in the nation. Sarah Super, who is leading the charge on the project, said the memorial would be could be the “largest, loudest and most permanent message of support” that survivors have ever received.

“We would like to help our city, our state and our nation take a huge step forward by creating this memorial that speaks a message that we so rarely hear: That we believe you and support you and stand with you,” she told commissioners.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation recently threw its support behind the project, approving an agreement with the group to give space for the memorial. The site is located at the intersection of several trails near the north end of a bridge between the park and Nicollet Island. The area’s neighborhood group, the St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization, backed the project earlier this year.

Break the Silence has raised $75,000 so far to build the $400,000 project.

The memorial, which would stretch 30 feet across, would feature seating, art from mosaic artist Lori Greene and columns with stories of local survivors. Downtown Minneapolis-based Damon Farber Landscape Architects is designing the project. A Park Board plan proposes the site be used as an interpretive opportunity or flexible gathering space.

Image by Damon Farber Landscape Architects
Image by Damon Farber Landscape Architects

District 5 Commissioner Brad Bourn suggested during the meeting directing $150,000 in reserve funds toward the project, but the rest of the board, while personally supportive of the project, wanted to wait until the project was further along.

“I know there are at least five other projects in the same district where this memorial is going that have been delayed and delayed and delayed and underfunded,” said Commissioner Liz Wielinski, whose District 1 includes the park. “We’re here for you at the end when you need that last little bit to get over.”

At-Large Commissioner Meg Forney, who said she was almost raped in high school, said the project is a “very, very powerful thing” and requested the group send her a donation envelope.

“[Sexual assault] wasn’t even a remote conversation back in those days, and I don’t think it’s that much today,” she said.

Break the Silence plans to wrap up fundraising for the memorial later this year. Work on the project could be completed as soon as early next year.