The sign has its message in different languages and red, white and blue colors to represent the entire country. (Photo: Contributed)

St. Elmo and Highland Park residents have joined a movement that shares a message of love and inclusion.

When area resident Lisa Flint recently visited the Northeast, she saw signs with the phrase “Hate Has No Home Here.”

She researched and found out that the project started in a small Chicago community.

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“The project is deliberately apolitical and nonpartisan,” Flint said via email. “It represents a desire for civil discourse, even amidst our varying opinions.”

Flint is the executive director of the Footprint Foundation, and she said that—in light of recent events, such as violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and because her organization has been discussing inclusivity—she wanted to bring the signs to Chattanooga.

The Footprint Foundation placed a bulk order with the intention of sharing with its grantees and partners.

“I questioned whether or not displaying a sign would be seen as ‘enough,’ given that we have so much work to do to heal the harm caused by hate,” Flint also said. “But as these signs have gone out and made their way into neighborhoods and storefronts, I have learned not to underestimate even the simplest of gestures.”

Flint shared some signs with local printer/Highland Park resident Emerson Burch, who started taking orders to help spread the message.

He’s also offering the chance for neighbors to sponsor someone who wants a sign but can’t afford one. So far, he’s gotten about 25 sponsors and 85 purchases, he said.

Burch said via email:

Many Highland Park residents are having the tough discussions about inclusion and how, as a community undergoing a lot of change, we can work together to preserve the diversity in our neighborhood. Hate Has No Home Here was a simple way that neighbors could visually say, “You are welcome here,” allowing anyone who drives, bikes or walks through our community to know that Highland Park is a welcoming and hospitable neighborhood.

Burch also said the sign is a personal statement for him. With the message, he’s showing support for anyone who is marginalized; he’s expressing that they have a safe place in his home, he said.

St. Elmo resident Karenza Pentiah offered to be a drop-off point for the signs in her neighborhood. 

As an immigrant who has lived here most of my life, [the] signs make me feel more welcome in the home I’ve known for 25 years,” Pentiah said via email. 

Flint said that a local restaurant owner told her a Muslim woman came into the restaurant because the sign was in the window. The customer was almost in tears because she was moved by the small gesture, Flint said.

Another person shared a story about a neighbor going out of his way to ask about the yard sign, which prompted a conversation that created a bond over shared values, she also said.

“Signs are not the answer, but they are welcome mats and conversation starters,” she said. 

Flint, Burch and Pentiah are sharing them within their neighborhoods.

They can be purchased here, but there’s a minimum of 100.

They can also be ordered from local company Vincent Printing Co. (ask for Luke).

At Vincent, there’s no minimum order requirement, although it’s less expensive to order more. Landscape signs are $14.26 each for 10, $7.56 each for 50-plus and $5.51 each for 100 or more.

The Highland Park Neighborhood Association is sponsoring the sign project, and Burch is working to get other neighborhood associations involved.

Highland Park and St. Elmo residents can order here or here from Burch, who is not benefiting personally. He’s volunteering to process orders. If there is any extra money, it will go toward printing additional signs that will be donated to community members.

Updated @ 11:42 a.m. on 9/13/17 for clarity.

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