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Call it a sign of the times.
Yard signs that say “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in English, Spanish and Arabic have been spotted in neighborhoods in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Canada.
Drew Schneider, a blogger in Washington, D.C., called attention to the trend in early December when he saw a sign in someone’s yard and put a photo of it on Instagram. People responded to the photo so positively that Schneider contacted Conrad Gross, the man who made the yard decoration. They partnered up to sell the signs in the area, and sold 350 in less than a week.
But it wasn’t Gross who came up with the idea.
He simply had found a high-resolution PDF of the sign on the website for Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The church’s pastor, Matthew Bucher, thought up the trilingual sign’s design last year as a response to the rhetoric of the primary debates. He first erected a painted wooden version outside his church.
“The church is located in the northeast part of Harrisonburg, which has a long tradition of being the African-American part of the city,” Bucher told NPR last month. “But in the past 20 years it’s also become home to a lot of people from Central America, the Middle East and around the world.”
People living in the Harrisonburg area expressed interest in the sign, so Bucher designed a version that could be reproduced. He charged people $10 a pop to cover costs.
He printed about 300 signs to give to other Mennonite churches, and soon was receiving calls from all over the country. So he decided to print up another 1,000 copies.
“The message seemed to resonate,” Bucher told Lancaster Online, a local news site in Pennsylvania. “We sold out pretty quickly.”
A PDF of the sign is available to print for free on the church’s website. The church has also started a Facebook page called “Welcome Your Neighbors” where you can contact others who have made the sign and place orders.
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