A simple sticker is resonating with people all over the world who want to send a message of welcome, instead of intolerance, to new immigrants and refugees.
When Veda Partalo came to the United States from Bosnia 19 years ago, the warmth and kindness she found from her new neighbors in the United States made her transition a little easier. Every year around Thanksgiving, she donates some of her clothing, or furniture, to organizations that support refugees, and organized a larger drive for donations among friends this year.
To this material effort, Partalo added a symbolic but meaningful contribution. She reached out to the folks over at Burlesque of North America, a design firm that also runs CO Exhibitions in northeast Minneapolis. Partalo had worked with the firm in the past, and had a good relationship with them.
She mentioned the negativity she saw toward refugees online to Mike Davis from Burlesque. “She wondered if there was some way to drown the negativity with positive messages,” Davis says.
Together, Partalo and Burlesque came up with a sticker that businesses and individuals could put in their front doors and store windows. The idea was to create around 2,500 stickers and hand them out to friends. They hoped maybe 100 businesses would want to post the message of support.
“I created the design” Davis says. “I wanted it to be clean and straightforward. I didn’t want any unnecessary details.” It reads “Refugees Welcome,” with an outline of a family.
The first batch of stickers "were gobbled up in 24 hours from people who had found out about it,” Davis says.
Word spread quickly about the stickers, thanks to a blog post from the Walker Art Center and a feature on Kare 11. Local businesses such as Glam Doll Donuts and World Street Kitchen were quick to snap up a few. Soon, people were contacting Burlesque not just from around the Twin Cities, but all over the country, and abroad as well.
Davis says at this point, they’ve sent out 10,000 stickers to places as far away as Paris, Germany, and Australia. In total, they’ve gone out to 150 cities around the world.
They’ve also received heartwarming letters from all over. One of the biggest customers are libraries that, not surprisingly, want to send the message that refugees are welcome.
It turns out, a sticker is worth a thousand words.
To order your sticker or for more info on them, visit Burlesque of North America.