Marietta residents say ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ signs a message of inclusivity
MARIETTA — The message is difficult to argue with: Hate Has No Home Here. But it is a sentiment that can get a conversation going.
During the past several months, that message — in white print on a blue background, in six languages — has been appearing in the yards of Marietta with increasing frequency.
The signs are not intended to suggest that hate somehow does have a home in places that don’t actively state it doesn’t. They are intended as a departure point for talking about ways to suppress hatred before it starts.
“We want people to feel safe and welcome in Marietta,” Rev. Kathryn Hawbaker of the Unitarian Universalist Church on said this week. The church has been instrumental in providing the signs and shaping a social justice campaign around the message.
Hawbaker stresses that it is not a project exclusive to the church, noting that many of the signs have been put up by people who are not in the congregation.
“It’s a way to get that message out there, and it’s important in view of the violence in our nation and around the world. It’s something we can do,” she said. “It’s a gentle way of putting the message out there, that recognizes places in the city as a safe zone where different perspectives are welcome.”
The message is neither political nor religious, she said, just a common starting point for people of any belief or persuasion.
Katie McGlynn posted one of the signs in her yard in the 500 block of Tupper Street several months ago.
“It’s a nice message in these divisive times,” she said. “We need to show kindness to one another.”
McGlynn lives across the street from the Mound Cemetery, and she said visitors sometimes comment on the sign.
“If I’m outside, they’ll mention it and sometimes talk to me about it,” she said. “I keep a couple of the signs on hand in case people want one.”
Next door to McGlynn, Mark and Nina Redd have posted one of the signs next to the curb in front of their home, and a rainbow flag flutters from a porch column in company with a U.S. flag.
The couple, who retired several years ago, discovered Marietta while taking a new driving route from their home in Virginia to visit a family member in western Tennessee. They were immediately charmed by the city’s natural beauty and felt an immediate sense of welcome from the people they met.
“This is the type of small town we had hoped to retire to,” Mark said. They moved into the big house on Tupper Street in 2014.
As members of the Unitarian Universalist Church, they participated in a social justice roundtable early in 2017.
“The signs came out of being an expression of what we were doing,” he said.
The roundtable topics ranged from gun violence to green energy.
“You find many of these signs in our church members’ homes just because we are interested in the social justice movement,” Mark said.
He said that after he put up the rainbow flag — a signal that the house doesn’t discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community — a neighbor came up and said, “I want to meet the people who fly a rainbow flag.”
A visitor who grew up in Marietta but moved to San Francisco as a child and later became openly gay, asked, “Is this a safe house?” Mark said.
The signs have also been distributed from the county Democratic Party headquarters, he said, “but it’s not to do with party affiliation, it floats across all persuasions.”
Redd sees it as a way to open discussion on issues that are important to individuals and to the collective whole of Marietta.
“Declaring who you are or what you’re with, that’s the first step in communication,” he said.
He believes the campaign has born results.
“I think ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ is just one facet of what is happening in Marietta and Parkersburg, you can see a change in attitude,” he said. “LGBTQ people are a little less fearful of coming out than they used to be, for example, and because of that we have found many friends in that group.”
The appeal of the message lies in its universalness, he said.
“It’s support for everybody, really. It’s very generic, and that might account for its popularity,” he said. “It means we practice the Golden Rule.”
The Hate Has No Home Here campaign got its start in North Park, a suburb of Chicago, Ill., in early 2016. The community wanted a way to celebrate and nurture awareness of its own diversity, and adopted the phrase, which was created by a third-grade student at a local school.
“Hate, unchecked, can make neighbors feel fearful and unwelcome in their own communities. The Hate Has No Home Here project reminds us what it means to be American,” the project’s website, hatehasnohomehere.org, declares.
Hawbaker said so far she has handed out about 40 signs at the church, and Redd said he’s passed on about 20 rainbow flags. The signs and flags are available at cost.
“I think I’ll be ordering another box of 20 signs soon,” Hawbaker said.
Hate Has No Home Here
* Project began: Early 2016
* First location: North Park, Ill.
* Reason: Resolution to make the neighborhood a safe place for everyone
* Mission: To prevent the growth of hate in communities
* Information: hatehasnohomehere.org or Unitarian Universalist Church, Marietta, 740-373-1238