When local printmaker Evan Plante logged onto Facebook after the city’s recent decision to host the Republican National Convention, he was shocked to see his typically good-natured friends and neighbors involved in divisive and fruitless arguments. Upset by the negativity he was seeing across the normally supportive and openminded Charlotte community, Plante designed a shirt with the text “OurNC” combined with a “fill-in-the-blank” phrase that describes Charlotte in a positive light.
“I just really didn’t think it was healthy to be bombarded with such vitriol,” said Plante, “and wanted to come up with an idea to symbolize an optimistic and non-partisan Charlotte.”
Since the initial design took form in early July, OurNC has evolved from a simple design concept to a full-blown nonprofit community arts movement staffed by Plante, his wife Susan, and a group of volunteers. Per their mission statement, OurNC has the “simple goal to show the common thread within our communities and knit them together.”
The group hopes that these t-shirts will be a visible sign of unity and remind Charlotteans to focus on the positive values that people from all backgrounds can share, such as optimism, hope for a better future, and pride in our community.
The proceeds from all sales will be used to fund local non-partisan partner organizations that support under-served areas in the Charlotte area. The first recipient will be the Bulb, a nonprofit that provides local produce and health/wellness education to vulnerable neighborhoods in the Charlotte area. Additionally, for every shirt that is purchased, OurNC will donate another to someone who cannot afford one.
OurNC will release a new t-shirt each month with a distinct design. Anyone who has an idea can participate in the design process by posting concepts on social media with the hashtag #OURNC. You can pick up a shirt at several local boutiques throughout the Charlotte area, including Paper Skyscraper in Dilworth, CLTFind in both the Park Road and 7th Street Market locations, Green with Envy in Plaza Midwood, and Pura Vida in NoDa.
Additionally, OurNC is a lifestyle brand that strives to make people feel connected through social media, especially on platforms where many are bickering. OurNC wants people to start using the hashtag #OURNC while posting about positive experiences that make Charlotte and NC great places to live.
The OurNC team hopes to see a diverse group of OurNC tags on posts about everything from Panthers games to church events, and from front porch hangouts to Crowders Mountain hikes.
Ultimately, OurNC aspires to help individuals feel connected with others who aspire to make Charlotte a better place and to cover the city with a wave of positivity and optimism.
As for 2020?
“Perhaps, when CNN is here and there are people both participating in and protesting the [Republican National] Convention,” Plante said, “we will also see a sea of these blue shirts and we can overwhelm the bad with good…I hope the world will see that Charlotte is a big dreaming city and we want to do great things.”