The Santa Rosa Art in Public Places Committee voted on Tuesday to expand the list of languages ​​to feature on a unity sculpture slated to be installed in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse plaza this summer, canceling its previous decision to limit the list despite public objections.

The seven-person arts committee, which included a new member on Tuesday, revisited the list after a procedural error overturned a Jan. 10 vote on the words and languages ​​that will appear on Unum, a stainless steel sculpture intended to symbolize the unity and celebrate the diversity of Santa Rosa.

On Jan. 10, a 3-to-1 vote ordered Santa Rosa city staff to proceed with a list of 17 languages ​​for the sculpture, 15 of which represent the languages ​​most commonly spoken in Santa Rosa households and two others who recognize the local south of Pomo and the coast. Miwok communities.

The vote went against the majority of public comments submitted and telephoned at the meeting, which called on committee members to include other languages, such as Hebrew, Japanese and Russian.

Members of the Sonoma County Jewish and Japanese community implored the committee to review the vote after the meeting, saying the decision to limit the list would exclude community groups whose languages ​​were not represented.

Three weeks later, city staff announced that the committee needed four affirmative votes, not three, to pass the Jan. 10 motion and therefore the item would be put to a vote again.

On Tuesday, before the unanimous vote, committee member Lisa Puentes said she appreciated the opportunity to reverse the decision after missing the Jan. 10 meeting.

“I support my committee members, but I had some concerns about the languages ​​which, according to my knowledge at the time, we lacked,” Puentes said. “So, I’m so grateful to have this second opportunity to be here.”

Equity and inclusion was a goal for the community advisory group tapped to help the arts committee select the list of words and languages ​​for the sculpture, city staff and a committee member who participated in these efforts.

City staff were asked to develop fair criteria for which languages ​​would be included at the request of the volunteer group, which led to a staff member responding with a list of the most common languages ​​spoken in homes. Santa Rosa based on census data.

The advisory group then used this guide to develop the list that resulted in the January 10 recommendation to the committee of 15 languages ​​plus the two Indigenous languages.

It is the work of the group of volunteers that several of the committee members present at the January 10 meeting said they wanted to honor.

Jeff Nathanson, a committee member who attended some of the early Community Advisory Group meetings, said he was “surprised that (the list) was a smaller list than it probably should have been” , despite the group’s efforts to include the community. .

Still, he acknowledged the difficulty of the advisory group’s task at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It was a really tough thing to do,” Nathanson said. “On the surface it was ‘let’s look and see who lives in Santa Rosa, what languages ​​are spoken, there’s this data that exists,’ but it didn’t produce exactly the results we thought.”

Judy Kennedy, a community member who spoke during public comments, shared her delight at the proposal to expand the list of languages ​​to be more inclusive. She also said she was excited about the public interest in the sculpture.

“It’s not ‘I like it’ and ‘I don’t like it’, it’s people with really imaginative ideas and interesting perspectives on the process and the carving itself,” said Kennedy.

The full list of languages ​​to include in Unum: English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Ilocano/Samoan/Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Thai, Khmer, Amharic/Somali, French, Swahili, German, Korean, Italian, Persian/Farsi/Dari, Cambodian, Tigrinya, Laotian, Hmong, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Hindi, Hungarian, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Gujarati, Swedish, Polish, Miwok and South Pomo.

You can contact editor Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or [email protected] On Twitter @nashellytweets.