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One year ago, today...

 

Jaime's story behind the sign:

All Are Welcome Here started as an idea, a sign inspired by students at a local high school standing up to hate. 2016 was rough year and a rough election cycle; through divisive rhetoric, kids who weren’t even old enough to vote were showing us adults how to be better humans and how build a better world for all of us. We were tearing ourselves apart, but they were showing us how to put a community back together one handwritten sign at a time.

Like many of you, I needed to literally put a stake in the ground and take a stand for my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my community. I wanted everyone, regardless of background, sexual orientation, gender identification, skin color, or disability to know that they were valued and welcomed. As a graphic designer, I don’t have the skills to legislate or litigate, but I could make a sign of my own to show my support for All. It had to look completely different than a political campaign sign. It had to be optimistic and hopeful, with colors and symbols that unite instead of divide. It also had to standout in a snow bank--it was November in Minnesota after all.

I threw my idea out on Facebook asking for feedback. Janna, JoEllen, Gina and so many others responded with enthusiasm, encouragement, and edits. I knew I had enough takers for a box of 50. Friends started asking if they could use it as their profile photo. When a friend suggested that I post it on Pantsuit Nation Minnesota, there was suddenly demand for many, many more. “You should probably add a few more zeros to your order,” wrote one supporter.

As I proofed the files for print, I was listening to The Current wondering if this was the right thing to do or if I’d have a garage full of rainbow signs nobody really wanted. In the middle of this doubt, Mary Lucia, my favorite DJ, played one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, “Jamie” by Weezer. My body started to tremble and my heart suddenly felt full. I took it as a sign–pun intended–that this was the right thing to do.

A week later, I had the first 100 All Are Welcome Here signs loaded into my car ready for a meet-up. They were more beautiful that I could have ever imagined. I hugged our printer, Pete, in the parking lot. After my twentieth enthusiastic thank-you he stopped me. “Jaime, when I saw this come through, I knew this was special. My kid is gender non-conforming. They think this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

It was the first of so many touching moments and heartfelt connections that would encourage us at All Are Welcome Here to work harder for our community. Gina, Janna, JoEllen and I could never have imagined that one box of signs was just the beginning of so much more and we’d become stewards of a powerful message that continues to resonate with so many. Thank you All so much for choosing a message of love, for supporting our neighbors, and for creating inclusive spaces in our schools, workplaces, and places of worship. 

All Are Welcome Here would not be possible without your incredible generosity and support.

We've met so many incredible people who spread this message every day and work to make it a reality. It feels so good to do good together and to be a part of something bigger that promotes the values and ideals we all hold dear, and helps create a just and equitable world for all.

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