onePULSE Foundation launches Pulse memorial survey, schedules town hall

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The onePULSE Foundation launched the final phase of the Pulse Memorial Survey Sept. 13 asking for opinions on how the memorial should be constructed.

The survey launched over the summer for victims’ families and survivors, as well as first responders from law enforcement and healthcare. The final phase is currently open to anyone around the world who would like to provide input on the future memorial.

“The survey is now live for the general public to participate in and it will stay live until Oct. 31,” says Sara Brady, the foundation’s media representative.”After that the content from the survey will be analyzed. We will have an answer in terms of what the consensus is and where things are leaning toward as far as what the memorial should look like, what should happen with the building, what people want the museum to look and feel like; those answers will come out of this survey.”

The survey taker is asked several questionson what the visitor’s experience should be — a gathering place to celebrate love and life; a place for reflection and contemplation; an educational place prompting discussion about tragedy and social issues; a place to mourn. Each question requests the survey taker rate the importance of each one.

Further questions inquire whether the memorial should focus on a variety of issues including terrorism, the LGBTQ community, a focus on specific cultural identities, addressing hate crimes and more.

The information gathered will be used to help determine a possible direction for the memorial.

Along with the online survey, the onePULSE Foundation is holding a series of town hall meetings to begin public discussion on establishing the permanent memorial at Pulse.

“When Barbara Poma decided to move forward with a memorial her priority has always been that this be a community initiative and that there be community involvement and engagement,” Brady says. “So these town halls play a very critical role in keeping that conversation going and getting input, particularly from those who live here in Central Florida.”

The first of these meetings is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 9 at 6:00 p.m. at the Orlando Repertory Theater. The original introductory town hall meeting scheduled for Sept. 13 had to be moved due to Hurricane Irma.

There is no charge to attend any of the town hall meetings but, due to limited seating, tickets are required in order to attend.

The forum will be moderated by journalist Indira Lakshmanan. Lakshmanan, who is the Newmark chair in journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute, will moderate the discussion between an assembled panel of experts and the town hall’s attendees.

The panel includes Hilary Lewis, Ph.D., Chief Curator & Creative Director of the Glass House and onePULSE Foundation Trustee; Pamela Schwartz, Chief Curator of the Orange County Regional History Center; Ed Linenthal, Ph.D., Author, and Professor of History & American Studies at Indiana University Bloomington; Anthony Gardner, Senior Vice President Government & Community Affairs of The National September 11 Memorial & Museum; and Jan Ramirez, Executive Vice President of Collections and Chief Curator, National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The discussion of the first town hall meeting will focus on the memorial process, as well as how the museum items are curated. The next forum will take place in early 2018. No official date or location has been announced.

“We are anticipating doing four of these town halls. We don’t have dates on the calendar for all of them just yet, but ideally we would like to do one per quarter,” Brady says.

Brady says that the entire process is expected to be complete within three years. Poma has been visiting the sites of other memorials around the country to learn about the process of putting something of this magnitude together.

“She went to Oklahoma City, she did that very early on in this process, and met with them. They have been helpful in letting her know what needs to be done, how to engage the community and why that’s important, and what to expect,” Brady says. “She has a similar relationship with the groups from the 9/11 Memorial. Those two groups primarily have helped to guide her so she can implement these steps without having to figure them out on her own.”

Ever since deciding to turn the space into a memorial, Poma has been adamant about getting the community’s input on the issue.

“The tragedy that occurred at Pulse Nightclub impacted this community and it’s important that the community be involved in determining what the memorial ends up looking like,” said Poma in a statement released by the onePULSE Foundation. “So far, the response to the survey had been significant and we are looking forward to hearing from the rest of Central Florida and others from around the world.”

The onePULSE Foundation is a nonprofit organization incorporated by the owners of Pulse in July 2016. Funds raised through onePULSE Foundation are intended to support construction and maintenance of the memorial, community grants to care for the survivors and victims’ families, an educational program to promote amity among all segments of society, endowed scholarships for each of the 49 angels, and ultimately a museum showcasing historic artifacts and stories from the event, according to their website.

To take the survey or to find more information on the onePulse Foundation, visit onePULSEFoundation.org.

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