MINNEAPOLIS - It's been one year since the rainbow-colored signs began appearing on corners of Twin Cities communities, in a business window, outside a school, perched a lawn, in front of a church sidewalk.
Four words outlined the vision of four longtime friends: “All Are Welcome Here.”
Since the signs were first created last November, those words have been translated into Spanish, French, Ojibwe, Lakota, Somali, Hmong, Hmoob, Hebrew and Arabic, now more than 11,000 signs across 40 states and counting.
The message started with a simple idea after four Twin Cities mothers with full-time jobs took on another task: a stand against hate.
Jaime Chismar, a graphic designer, designed the logo after the high school in her hometown of Maple Grove was riddled with racist graffiti the day after President Trump was elected.
She was inspired by how the students rose to defend their school community and differences.
After a call to Facebook to see if there was interest in her design, the idea exploded.
Three of Chismar’s friends, several dating back to her days at Maple Grove Junior High, joined forces with her in would soon become an "All Are Welcome Here" movement. The women have backgrounds in design, marketing, web and a writing, and all were also moved by a message of inclusivity for their children, with seven daughters between them.
“We are helping people remind themselves of that call to positivity and that call to inclusivity every time they drive out of their driveway or they wear the button,” said Janna Netland Lover, one of the four co-partners of All Are Welcome Here. “We are really trying to live the statement that we are putting out there.”
The All Are Welcome Here founders consider their mission "for purpose" rather than a "for profit" business, nonpartisan and secular. Since last fall, their signs have appeared in women’s marches across the country. Lakes & Legends Brewing Company in Minneapolis even coined the “All Are Welcome Beer.”
“This may have been a sentiment a lot of people felt in their hearts and their minds but now they want to put it out there,” said Netland Lover. “I am proud of what is it is doing right now because it’s helping people set an intention.”
Kathleen Farrell, of Minnetonka, connected to this call - passing out 300 signs to her neighbors - first in Southwest Minneapolis, and then when she moved to her new neighborhood in Minnetonka, gathering support through the NextDoor app.
“The message of inclusivity was big for me having a child of my own. It is such a small thing but it's impactful, because children see it, gets people thinking or talking and having conversations they might not otherwise have,” said Farrell.
Leanne Kampfe, the principal of Hopkins West Junior High, made sure the signs were ready on the first day of school, a statement in Spanish, Somali, Mandarin, and to all gender identities. She also brought the signs to Roosevelt High School last year, where she served as assistant principal.
“If you don’t feel you belong someplace to take risks and let down your guard in the way we ask kids to do every day in order to learn – is an impossibility. And I recognize the educational institution as a whole, not in Hopkins or at Hopkins West, but in the United States, tends to be more welcoming to certain families and kids,” said Kampfe.
To Kampfe, more important than the four words, is what the founders envisioned, those three letters to live by, welcoming all.
“It’s easy to say that, but to be able to pull apart what that means, and that might mean things about me have to change, in order for you to feel welcome, that is the important piece, to ask ourselves how to seek to understand difference instead of being afraid. This is the surface, and it doesn’t mean anything unless we are living it every single day, so we can really figure out what equity means,” said Kampfe.
The “All Are Welcome Here” founders say their hope to become a foundation next year.
You can find the signs at the Midtown Global Market for the Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama December 1 and 2.
As part of a mission of equity, 10% of sales of transgender support items are donated to Transforming Families Minnesota. Ten percent profits are donated to the American Civil Liberties Union, raising $30,000 for the organization over the past year.