Signs of Solidarity: Positive words spring up on signs around town

America needs a chill pill.

As an antidote to the angst of this election season, a group of Atlanta artists are hanging signs of encouragement and good will on storefronts and residences all around the downtown, Cabbagetown and the Fourth Ward.

“Love and Unity” reads one. “Girls with Dreams Become Women With Vision,” says another. “Spread Compassion” reads a third.

“Make Love, Rise Above,” suggests the banner on Rhia’s Bluebird cafe across from Oakland Cemetery. It was created by Soap Goods Creative for the Signs of Solidarity project. Photo: Modou Jallow (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“It’s a political project, but not a political project,” said Monica Campana, co-founder and executive director of Living Walls and one of the organizers of the effort.

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“It is an obvious and immediate response to the things we’re seeing around us in the world, and how hate seems to be justified in many occasions.”

In a highly charged presidential race when friends and families have found themselves fighting along ideological lines and certain groups have been demonized, Campana said we all could use some reassurance.

“We want to make the statement that we stand for love and not hate, and we hope to start the year with a positive sentiment.”

The effort, called Signs of Solidarity ATL, was modeled after a similar program in Philadelphia. In Atlanta a group of about 57 artists banded together with local businesses and store owners and in a few days cranked out 33 banners, each one about six feet by nine feet.

Grant Henry, owner of the Fourth Ward tavern called Church, paid for materials for most of the banners, Campana said. Notch 8 Gallery offered working space and artists brought their own brushes, paints and talents.

In a press release, the group wrote “Signs of Solidarity is a reaction to what appears to be a global shift towards fear and exclusivity. We refuse to accept the normalization of divisiveness and the hate it breeds. Atlanta, as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, should stand against hate. We recognize that Atlanta is made better by its diverse communities.”

Brandon English created this banner that reads “Evil Don’t Live Here.” Photo: Tim Lampe (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Campana said the effort is not a protest against President Elect Donald Trump. “This is not anti-anything,” she said. “The project is about love and positivity and hope.”

The signs will come down on Sunday, Jan. 22. Artists were worried that the city might require them to remove the signs earlier, but so far that hasn’t happened, said Campana.

The only mishap: one sign was stolen. (It was emblazoned with the words: “Google the Golden Rule: Thanks.” Apparently the thief didn’t.)

Artists Dianna Settles and Yoon Nam, working with Hi-Lo Press, fashioned this quote from Rosa Parks into a banner. Photo: Sharif Hassan. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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