Jaime Chismar spent much of her youth in Maple Grove.
Now a mom and freelance web designer living in St. Louis Park, Chismar was especially wounded when messages like "fuck niggers," "#porchmonkeysgohome," and "#whitesonly" were scrawled in a bathroom and on a locker at Maple Grove High School.
The day after the incident, Principal Bart Becker greeted people entering the building. Students painted a boulder on school grounds with hearts and the phrase "Love Will Conquer All!" Inside, dozens of placards were taped to columns. "Love Trumps Hate," read one. "Stand Together" said another.
The outpouring spurred Chismar to take to Facebook.
"I told people on a local mom page on Facebook that I wanted to make a sign," she says. "I wanted it to be simple and all-inclusive and asked anybody if they wanted one."
What the vandals didn't foresee is that their exercise would create a market for good vibes around the metro and beyond. Within a day or two of putting out the invitation, Chismar had orders for 5,000 of her "All Are Welcome" signs.
"I have orders for signs from people in Rochester, Texas, and Virginia," she says. "People can now order T-shirts with the slogan. We had no idea that this message of inclusiveness would be so needed."
The wildfire of demand has created logistical problems. With help from high school friends, Chismar is trying to play catch up with the back log of orders. She hopes to open up for bulk orders come early next week. In the meantime, she's trying her best to get as many signs printed as possible. The signs retail for $10. After start-up costs are covered, proceeds initially will be donated to the ACLU.
"It's been overwhelming because the response has been overwhleming," says Chismar. "I've had calls and emails coming in from all over and I'm just trying to make dinner."
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