You may have noticed the new signs that have been cropping up around Menomonie, adorning front lawns and shop windows. Windows have signs that read, “Menomonie Values:” followed by either “A Diverse Community,” “All Our Neighbors” or “Acts of Kindness.” Lawns have signs that say “hello” in four different languages, followed by “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor.”
This signage campaign was started by Warren and Marion Lang in December of 2016. Community members gathered together to begin planning an organization that would reach out to those who feel marginalized. The campaign originally started with window signs and lawn signs, and many people and places were willing to display them.
The second portion of the project was asking the city of Menomonie to pass a proclamation expressing respect for everyone. The proclamation passed unanimously. Menomonie Cares worked with a police liaison to create the original version, of the proclamation, and the chief of police and the officers presented a revised version first to Menomonie Cares before presenting it to the city of Menomonie board. Chancellor Bob Meyer wrote a letter of support about the new proclamation.
To the Langs, the whole project is about acknowledging connections with others and accepting everyone, including ourselves. “You start somewhere. Why not your own community?” said Warren. This project creates positive engagements in the community. “It brings people together instead of dividing them. That’s very important, today and any time,” said Warren.
Warren and Marion noted that community reaction has been very positive and supportive, and many people are willing to participate. “We thought these values that we chose—kindness, diversity, accepting our neighbors—we thought those were good values we share,” said Marion. “If you cannot accept all of them, maybe start with kindness,” she added. Some signs have gone missing, but the overall reaction has been positive.
One challenge Menomonie Cares has faced was a funding shortage. Adjunct Dan Lang volunteered to create the sign designs, Cedar Corporation prints all the window signs for free and many local businesses volunteered to distribute window signs. Everything runs on a donation basis.
Menomonie Cares plans to expand their campaign to include buttons and encourage people to contact them if they need support. For the next step, they are interested in bridging the gap between University of Wisconsin–Stout and Menomonie.
For those interested in learning more, you can grab your own sign at either Lah-Dee-Dah or the Menomonie Co-op, email MenomonieCaresInfo@gmail.com or you can sign up for the mailing list to learn about meetings and volunteer opportunities.