Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Signs that prompt thought, discussion &, maybe, action October 28, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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One of the many inspiring signs posted in the Atwood Neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

SIGNS. I FIND THEM INTRIGUING. Interesting. Telling. A way to communicate a message, a thought, an idea.

I think we can all agree, though, that during this election year, sign overload exists. Political signs clutter yards and buildings, even vehicles and sides of roadways. It’s visually overwhelming at times.

Photographed in Kenyon, Minnesota, on Sunday, October 22.

But some especially meaningful signs have emerged, signs that convey ideas rather than banner a candidate’s name. Those I appreciate because they prompt thought. And that includes the BLACK LIVES MATTER signs I’ve seen, some in Rice County (especially in Northfield), many in the Atwood Neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin, and, just last week, two posted on a modest house in Kenyon.

A comment posted by a visitor on her Polaroid photo at the “Selma to Montgomery: Marching Along the Voting Rights Trail” exhibit at St. Olaf College in 2015. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I often wonder about the stories behind those posting the BLACK LIVES MATTER (or similar “issue”) signs. Did a personal experience prompt someone to share their views in such a public way? Or rather do they simply believe so strongly in something that they opt to freely express their opinion via signage? Maybe both. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they care about this social justice issue, this human issue really. Even in small towns like Kenyon, population around 1,800.

Messages on a house in small town Dundas, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2020.

I recognize that, when you live in a small community (under 5,000 by my definition), everyone pretty much knows everyone. If you hang a sign like BLACK LIVES MATTER on your front door and porch windows, everyone in town will know. There is no anonymity. You could quickly become the subject of coffee talk or rumors or whatever people choose to circulate. I’m not saying this is the case in Kenyon, just making a general observation.

Posted in the “Selma to Montgomery” exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

Whatever, at least people will be thinking. Maybe even engaging in meaningful and respectful conversations that promote understanding and healing. Bring fairness and equality. In the current divisive environment, I recognize that’s not easy to achieve. But we must keep trying.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

2 Responses to “Signs that prompt thought, discussion &, maybe, action”

  1. Great post, Audrey. I don’t know the effectiveness of signs but I do love the positive ones. Political ones— not so much.


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