Pikes Peak (with or without the apostrophe). Speer Boulevard. MLK Jr. Boulevard. Carr Street. Stapleton International Airport (and now a Denver neighborhood). McNichol’s Arena. Ellie Caulkins Opera …
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Pikes Peak (with or without the apostrophe). Speer Boulevard. MLK Jr. Boulevard. Carr Street. Stapleton International Airport (and now a Denver neighborhood). McNichol’s Arena. Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Rosemary Slack Lending Library at the Susan M. Duncan Family YMCA.
Some of us might not remember places such as McNichol’s Arena, or why some of these people are famous – Zebulon Pike’s exploration of the Rocky Mountains, for example – or even infamous, such as Denver mayor Ben Stapleton, also a high-ranking member of the KKK in the 1920s and 1930s. But their legacies live on in the places that bear their names.
And some I hope we never forget, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, contributions and sacrifice for basic human and civil rights.
Sometimes we get to choose, if our family makes a large endowment, for example. Sometimes this honor comes posthumously, such as the lending library named after my mother, Rosemary Slack, at the YMCA in Arvada, where she was a beloved member.
What would you want your name on?
For myself, I prefer something educational or literary, rather than an edifice or a roadway. For instance, I am a poet, and enjoy writing in form, such as a sonnet or sestina. And I often create my own nonce forms; that is, I develop lines or stanzas or rhyme schemes that are my own.
In one of my writing workshops, another poet suggested that one of my nonce forms be called the “Dorayian” …doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? The “Doranian?” The “Dorian?” Of course, hordes of poets would then need to use my form – and break it – for any chance that it would be named after me.
Another choice – and perhaps one that might actually be attainable – would be to endow a scholarship at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, one of the finest literary centers in the country. Although I have been writing since I was a child (my mother had a stash of poems and stories from when I was nine years old), and throughout my life as an adult, joining the writing community at Lighthouse opened me up to a world I didn’t know existed.
In fact, I have been the beneficiary of a scholarship at Lighthouse, one established by the writing group of another Lighthouse member in her honor after her untimely death. (I’d prefer to provide my endowment before my own passing, but, friends and family, please remember this!)
Of course, there’s also Writing for Peace, the international organization for which I am a board member. Much of our mission is to spread empathy through creative writing, and, to that end, we sponsor young writers contests and youth summits to provide a way for young voices to speak their truths. So a scholarship in my name to continue this work would also be ideal.
On the other hand, why do any of these need to carry my name at all? I would like to honor the literary world with my contributions, and honor the institutions that mean so much to me. But then I wonder if my name is necessary to make this difference.
So I ask again: If you could choose, what would you like your name on?
Andrea Doray is a writer who supports those who want to change the name of the Stapleton community. Contact her with what you would like your name on at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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