We want all of our neighbors to know that they are loved and their lives are valued. Etna is not a place that accepts hate and we, in the strongest terms possible, condemn the use of hateful symbols. At the time of this blog post, a flag with a swastika symbol hangs on a porch in Etna, but it does not reflect the values of our community and its residents. Our municipal government and police are aware of the flag and have been doing everything in their power to address the situation. Frankly, US laws protect its display. Federal law enforcement and local Jewish organizations have been notified. At ECO, we, along with our partners, are working on several initiatives to support hurting and fearful residents and those that want to bring light to darkness.
The first initiative comes from three councilmembers: Jessica, Alice, and Megan. The three launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to produce yard signs with the 'Etna is for Everyone' design. You can sign up now by completing this form. Signs and words are powerful and carry meaning. While we wrestle with a symbol that violates our core values, we believe that 'Etna is for Everyone' is a message that can help unite us.
The second initiative is through our partnership with the Borough. We share this Equity Vision Statement from the Etna EcoDistrict process: Etna is an inclusive community that embraces diversity and activates everyone to shape our future together. We are running multiple 'Etna is for Everyone' displays over Rt. 28, which is seen by tens of thousands of travelers daily.
The third initiative is the development of a Virtual Community Meeting titled 'Countering Antisemitism'. The meeting will be taking place on January 10, 2022 from 6:30-9:00pm and will be recorded for those that are unable to attend. You can attend the meeting by completing this form. This virtual event is to increase awareness around the rising threat of antisemitism in the region and country, and how we, in Etna, can work towards making our community safer and more inclusive. The meeting will feature regional leaders who will provide education on how to address antisemitism and community trauma, and local leaders who are working towards positive change and resilience.
More initiatives will come. What this sign and phrase 'Etna is for Everyone' has come to mean to us - the community of Etna - continues to deepen in meaning each day. The development of the first poster coincided with 10.27.2018, the tragedy at Tree of Life; Robert was drawing the poster that morning with words Alexis prepared. On 11.7.2018, it was screen-printed by Etna Print Circus at the Social Equity Summit with evolveEA. A Shaler Area High School GATE student presented a poster that night titled "Equity in Etna" which prominently featured the Star of David; the poster was created as a way for students to process the Tree of Life tragedy, the worst antisemitic attack in American history. The poster now hangs in the entry way of the Etna Borough Building and has since that night.
We leave you today with a phrase our neighbors from Highland Park Community Council Pittsburgh posted in response to an antisemitic act in their neighborhood: "We are all in this together, friends. The measure of a neighborhood is not whether awful things like this happen because they can happen everywhere - what matters is the way the neighbors step up and respond when they do."