Don’t call it the CHART Committee.
Santa Fe City Council unanimously approved a long-gestating plan Wednesday to address controversial public artwork and monuments in the city.
However, what was previously dubbed the Cultural, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth Committee is now to be referred to as the CHART process, because any semblance of what most people would think of as a city committee has been removed from the resolution, in lieu of a collection of community dialogues open to any member of the public.
Before Wednesday’s council meeting, Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth, who largely spearheaded the resolution, said denoting the cultural panel as a committee was a mischaracterization.
“I think the new resolution is not a commission or a committee,” Romero-Wirth said. “What this new substitute resolution does is institute a structure and a process to have community-centered conversations about our culture and our history.”
The substitute resolution stemmed from a proposal from Mayor Alan Webber that sought to create a 21-member appointed panel to make recommendations to the governing body on what to do with public art and monuments, in particular how to address the Plaza obelisk, which was toppled in October during an Indigenous Peoples Day rally.
That original panel format was criticized, however, for what community members and some city councilors saw as a lack of community involvement.
“I think the whole point of this effort will be to begin moving in a positive way to engage the community,” Webber said in an interview before Wednesday’s meeting. “To have a community-centered dialogue.”
Similar to a process created in Albuquerque, Santa Fe’s revised CHART process will feature three community discussions. The first round will focus on personal identities and stories, followed by a session on core values and then a talk on solutions, recommendations and responses.
The meetings will be conducted by a facilitator and will take place online. If the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wane, the resolution allows for the switch to in-person discussions.
People who can’t participate in the meetings will be able to take part in one-on-one interviews and surveys, with questions designed by the CHART project team, made up of officials from the Department of Community Engagement and the Arts and Culture Department.
Participants who complete all three community dialogue sessions will be able to take a seat on the community solutions table, which will ultimately bring recommendations to the governing body.
The revised resolution received the endorsement of the Public Works and Utilities Committee on Monday, followed by the Finance Committee on Tuesday.
During Wednesday’s meeting, which included presentations from officials involved with Albuquerque’s process, Councilor Michael Garcia said the virtual nature of the meetings could be an issue for the process.
Garcia also suggested creating a delegation to further engage local pueblo residents.
Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler said before Wednesday’s meeting that some of her concerns were quelled by an amendment introduced by Councilor Renee Villarreal, which proposed quarterly check-ins with the governing body on the progress of the CHART process.
“I always have a concern for the council involvement,” Vigil Coppler said. “It’s really important that the [process] has check-ins with the council.”
According to the resolution, the table has until December to bring recommendations to the Governing Body, but Councilor Chris Rivera said an amendment might have to be added to the resolution if the CHART process cannot reasonably be completed by December.
“If we can meet live, that might help things considerably,” Rivera said. “I’m trying to keep an open mind.”
In Albuquerque, 100 individuals went through the three-meeting process, with 51 people ultimately taking part in the solutions table. However, that was a five-month process, which resulted in Albuquerque’s City Council requesting more time to gather recommendations once discussions could be held in public.