MoveOn Manchester Signs Say ‘All Are Welcome’ Here
MoveOn Manchester is offering a second wave of its ‘All Are Welcome’ signs to area businesses free of charge. “This was one of the inaugural acts of our Diversity Alliance committee,” says MoveOn founder Jonathan Fine, “and given the recent events in Charlottesville, it’s never been more important or timely. It became clear to us early on in our work that public welcoming messages could be a significant way for our group to spread the word that the Northshire area welcomes and embraces people of any and all backgrounds.”
Such signs and banners began to crop up nationwide after the 2016 Presidential election season and the nationwide rise in hate crime that followed, says Fine. “We all know that Vermont has a reputation for being a progressive and open-minded state and that Southern Vermont, and specifically the Manchester area, is filled with kind and welcoming people, but we noticed that no one here had yet organized the community to spread the word to tourists and visiting students and all who pass through that we embrace and respect all people here for who they are as human beings regardless of their religion, race, sexual orientation, disability or any other, so-called ‘differences’.”
When initial efforts to create an artistic image or logo for the sign stalled , MoveOn member Jen Lalor suggested that maybe one of her students would be able to help out. As it turned out, senior Tara Hall was more than happy to lend her artistic talents to the project and, after many early drafts of images based on the group’s ideas, it became apparent that Hall’s own artistic concept was actually the ideal image for the project. Hall’s watercolor depicts a gathering of people of various surreal and beautiful colors gathered in a downtown location not unlike Manchester’s, people of many different types whose similarities clearly outweigh their differences. Once Hall’s final image was complete, the group relied on the volunteer efforts of Salem based graphic artist Heather Bellanca to help with the final stages of the sign’s design.
MoveOn’s volunteers then hit the streets in late June to offer up the signs to several area shops, inns and restaurants.
Member Theo Talcott was excited about the new project. “The student (artist’s) design is so simple and non-threatening and yet symbolic of the inclusiveness we want. I delivered many signs on the first day and got a very good reception from so many Manchester business owners. I feel like this project is going to be a big hit with the community!”
Although MoveOn’s members hope to individually visit all area businesses, it may be easy for some to be accidentally overlooked. Any local business owner who would like a free ‘All Are Welcome’ sign can call 802-770-4194 or write firstname.lastname@example.org.