NORTH PARK — Nearly 40 percent of North Park residents are foreign-born — and they're all welcome in the community, regardless of what certain politicians campaigning for president have been saying.
That's the message behind "Ribbons for Peace," an idea born out of one neighbor's desire to combat the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiments swirling in the national media.
"I don't think the majority of people are mean-spirited or close-minded," said Carmen Rodriguez, who started Ribbons for Peace. "I thought, 'What can I do to show I don't believe all of this garbage?'"
Her solution: tie a ribbon on the front railing of her home.
She shared the idea on the North Park Neighbors' Facebook page, writing, in part:
"I’m tying a ribbon to my front rail as a sign to anyone who passes my home that we appreciate all of our neighbors, no matter our differences. It’s a small thing, but I hope it helps my neighbors know that the people with the microphones are not the only ones who have something to say. I’m saying 'peace.' I encourage all my neighbors to put a ribbon on their front railings or gates or doorknobs — any color will do — to send a message that our neighborhood is amazingly, terrifically, magnificently diverse, and happy to be so."
The Facebook post caught the attention of Catherine Korda, a North Park-er who also happens to be president of the Parent Advisory Council at Peterson Elementary, 5510 N. Christiana Ave.
A trip to Michaels craft store later, Korda had bought enough ribbon to hand out a strand to every student and staff member at Peterson on Friday — 1,000 ribbons in all — plus extra to decorate the school's fence along Christiana, Bryn Mawr and Catalpa.
"Good thing it was on sale," Korda said.
Jennifer Hoskins was among the parent volunteers who braved the morning's frigid temperatures to be-ribbon the school.
"One of my favorite things about the neighborhood is the diversity," Hoskins said. "I wanted to send the message that everyone is welcome, and I want our kids to know that as well."
Ayesha Khan, a Peterson mom and Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, said she appreciated the effort.
"This community is wonderful, they're very friendly to everybody," Khan said.
The news may be filled with negativity but "the people in this community? Never," she said.
As the school day started and parents tied the final ribbons to Peterson's fence, Principal Kate Kane could be heard over the loudspeakers ... reading Rodriguez' Facebook post during morning announcements.
Rodriguez stood outside on the sidewalk, beaming.
"I'm hoping it gets to be a big thing," she told DNAinfo. "We're all different, but we're all together."
Catherine Korda spearheaded efforts to tie ribbons at Peterson Elementary, spurred by Carmen Rodriguez's "Ribbons for Peace" idea. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]
Parent volunteers tied ribbons along the fence at Peterson Elementary in North Park. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]
"Ribbons for Peace" to show unity with all neighbors and hope for peace within this wonderfully diverse community. pic.twitter.com/gtLb68cDkW— Kate Kane (@MGPPrincipal) December 17, 2015
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