Two spots on Sacramento waterfront to be named after local grandmothers but who were they?

 The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento have announced that two names have been selected for an art project that renames two important spots along the Sacramento waterfront.

The project by British artist Joshua Sofaer is called “River Crossing: I want to communicate with you” and asked residents in summer to nominate people they would like to have commemorated.

Over 650 nominations were received and a panel of judges selected two names: Isabel S. Naranjo for the new name of a dock in Old Sacramento and Etenesh Zeleke for a dock to be built in West Sacramento.

Left, Isabel S. Naranjo. Right, Etenesh Zeleke.

Isabel S. Naranjo was nominated by her granddaughter and was driven to deliver supplies, food and clothing to migrant farmworkers and their families. A farmworker herself, she helped establish childcare centers and secure funding for meals, recreation and education. Judges selected Naranjo due to her strong commitment to her family and her community.

Etenesh Zeleke, whose first name translates to “you are my sister,” was an immigrant from Ethopia. She was nominated by her granddaughter who described her as being a “stream of hope” with many references to creating a community in West Sacramento near the river. Judges were inspired by her unique story of modern immigration, her love for her family and her connection to the river.

The names were chosen by a panel of judges which included news reporter Leticia Ordaz, restaurateur Jess Milbourn, art commissioner Maya Wallace, music teacher Felicia Weatherly, and poet/activisit Yeshahyah Yisrael.

Along with the selected two names for the docks, a total of 33 nominees, their photos, and the submitted stories will be available on the project website.

As a final part to the art project, glowing lightboxes will spell the names of Naranjo and Zeleke in colorful maritime signals at their respective locations along the Sacramento river. The installation will occur in early 2020.

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