We live in an impossibly lovely hamlet. Known locally as “The Bubble” for the fact that it seems to exist outside of the real world. Due to its small population, it seems everyone knows each other, or has, at the most, two-degrees of separation.
For example, friends took our youngest daughter out to dinner with their family last night. I was at a meeting when my phone beeped with a text picture of four young kids sitting around a table, eating and laughing: my daughter and our friends’ kids. But the picture wasn’t sent from our friends who actually had my daughter; it was from another friend who happened to be at the same restaurant. She thought it was hilarious that it appeared our six-year-old was out on a double date without us and snapped the shot. I love knowing people in town know my kids, watch who they’re out with, what they’re doing. I do the same to all the kids I know around town. There’s always a feeling of “we are in this together.”
Meals are dropped off when there’s a new baby or an illness in the family; fundraisers are well-attended and hugely successful. Recently, this town filled two semi-trucks worth of donations in 48 hours for Hurricane Harvey, and had them driven down to Houston. This town comes together in a crisis and helps out.
Right now, there is something that is happening which is so antithetical to our sweet village, however.
There has been a rash of thefts and vandalism in the middle of the night, all over town and also, in the town next door. I heard dribs and drabs at first, of things being stolen. Then, it happened to us. Then it happened to nearly all my friends who had the same thing stolen or defaced.
What was the enticing object that kept getting stolen? Yard signs.
Not the yard signs we have that support the local football teams. Those are still up.
Only the signs that say, “WE ARE NOT AFRAID” or, “HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.”
These were taken or spray-painted over. Repeatedly.
These signs are in support of local refugees and minorities who feel threatened by Trump’s immigration ban and proposed policies, and his anti-Muslim bias.
You see, there is a wonderful local organization that helps refugee families into the area. Most of them arrive with absolutely nothing. World Relief of DuPage County partners with the local churches and sets refugees up with donated household goods, job training, housing. You can buy a yard sign from them for $3 that says, “We Are Not Afraid” and www.wewelcomerefugees.com
The other signs that have been stolen or vandalized from people’s front porches and front yards (over and over again, no matter how many times they are replaced-- four, five, six times) say “Hate Has No Home Here” in several languages, also signaling support for minorities and refugees in our community.
Out of curiosity, I put an informal poll on Facebook asking, who has had a sign stolen and how many? I thought it would be a handful, judging from the conversations between me and my friends.
It turned out to be over 100. In our small, peaceful town. In “The Bubble.”
A friend and I turned this information over to the police. They were aware of the situation because a few folks had already called them to file complaints. Those same folks felt the police weren’t taking them seriously or caring, really. The officers we spoke with were very engaged and helpful and apologized if any of their officers gave a different impression.
They are working on catching the people doing it. There is concrete evidence that it is not “just kids messing around.” There is evidence of adult males driving around our village in the middle of the night, trespassing on personal property, stealing and defacing the signs.
This is not who we are. We are not afraid. This community is welcoming. But it’s time to prove it. If you had a sign and it was stolen, order another. If you saw the signs but never thought to put one in your front lawn, now is the time to do so.
What kind of a community do you want to live in? One where the least among us, these refugee families who arrive with nothing, are unwelcome? Or a community that shows its strength and beauty through welcoming acceptance? Glen Ellyn is not a literal bubble: we are a part of the global shared reality.
Let’s have our own “I Am Spartacus” moment where we all stand together and stand up for those being targeted. Put the signs in your yards. So many signs, everywhere— too many to steal or deface.
The links for ordering are below. A united show of love is the most powerful force out there.