A half-dozen artists and activists gathered at The Triangle Saturday (Feb. 20) morning to install a temporary tribute to members of the homeless community who’ve died in recent years. The signs were up by 9 a.m., and organizers planned to return later in the day to reclaim them, but city workers beat them to it; the signs were removed around 1:30 p.m.
The memorial consisted of 33 rectangular cloth banners screen-printed with the words “IN MEMORY OF” and completed with hand-painted names of more than two dozen people. Some of the panels contained multiple names and some names were listed more than once.
The tribute was long in the making. According to homeless advocates at the installation, the panels were printed more than a year ago, and guests at Safe Space Winter Shelter during the 2019-2020 season were invited to add names of fellow unhoused people they wanted to remember. The names of some of those who’ve died more recently have been added since then. One sign—placed in the center of the Triangle—honored Casey Doran, a dedicated homeless advocate who died of cancer Dec. 4.
The signs were intended to be part of a vigil, but that plan was scrapped when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, complicating in-person gatherings. The project was revived in light of recent homeless encampment sweeps by the city of Chico, including one at The Triangle on Feb. 4.
“We really wanted to hold this space,” one of the installers said. “After the sweep it just felt so empty it was startling. We wanted to keep people’s attention on the people who are no longer here, and the people who have literally passed.”