Local artist’s design inspires students

How a small project turned into a statement that influenced an election


Malaika Bigirindavyi

Senior Simon Lewin works on a computer in the Library Media Center next to the All Are Welcome Here sign. Media Specialist Ellen George put the sign to send a message of acceptance and understanding.

After the results of the 2020 election were received, the founder of the “All Are Welcome Here” sign and Park community member Jaime Chismar remembered the event that prompted her to make the sign. 

“There was this incident at Maple Grove High School of racist graffiti and it wasn’t the graffiti but the reaction of the school all coming together and just saying we’re better than this and you belong here,” Chismar said. “For me as a parent, I was disgusted by these adults who during the 2016 election just acted with cruelty and horrible intentions and here kids, our future, basically coming together and showing us how to be better people, that really inspired me to make my own sign.”

The signs, which come in many different variations and languages, are all available on the All Are Welcome Here website. 10% of online sales is donated to various non-profits that “All Are Welcome Here” has chosen to donate to. 

Senior Emma Amon said she has a sign because she thought today’s climate requires everyone to feel safe there.

“I had an ‘All Are Welcome Here’ sign because especially in today’s era it’s important for people to know they are welcome anywhere regardless of any circumstance and it’s inclusivity is especially critical,” Amon said.

Senior Henry Brettingen said people should have a sense of security even if they are dissimilar to others.

“I feel like it’s important for everyone to feel like they are welcome and secure in our community regardless if we have differences that have set us apart,” Brettingen said.

Chismar said the plethora of languages spoken by students is one example of how diverse highschool communities are and that her sign aims to make those communities more welcoming to diversity.

“Kids speak Arabic, they speak Somali, they speak Spanish and they also speak English which is absolutely incredible,” Chismar said. “The impact on schools has been a shared language to make our community more welcoming as both a big community and a small community.”

Amon said the phrase “All Are Welcome Here” makes her feel like everyone can be included regardless of what makes them different. 

“When I hear ‘all are welcome here,’ I think that no one has prejudice against them based on their race, sexual orientation, etc.,” Amon said. “It’s important that in this certain place everyone can be a part of this community even if they’ve felt dismayed before.” 

Brettigen said the idea on the signs forced voters to think more before they cast their ballot.

“The “All Are Welcome Here” group definitely influenced people to think more carefully about who and what they are voting for instead of just voting along one narrative,” Brettigen said.

Chismar said the All Are Welcome Here gave money to various organizations in an effort to get young people to vote. “We had a vote shirt that we sold, and the proceeds went back to Neighborhood House that was running a “get out to vote” effort with first-time voters, specifically people who were new Americans,” Chismar said. “We also donated money to the ACLU which was doing a huge recruitment effort to get younger voters to vote.”