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Manten tu distancia – saludame con tu sonrisa

A photograph of a stencil on the concrete ground showing two orange and black butterflies two meters apart. Stenciled text in the center states: “Manten tu distancia. Dos Metros. Saludame con tu sonrisa.”

In the Latinx community I work with, there are many people who are not practicing social distancing during this COVID-19 state of emergency, hanging out in groups, for a variety of reasons, including economic.

I made these stencils to put around the neighborhoods. “Manten tu distancia – saludame con tu sonrisa,” translates as, “Keep your distance – greet me with your smile.” The text is in two directions, so it pulls you in from whichever way you approach it on the sidewalk.

I enlisted the help of the two people in my household “pod,” my partner and my son, to spray them at heavily traveled corners, transit stops, and in front of stores where people congregate. Luckily, hardware stores with spray paint are still considered an essential service, and poster-board can still be found at major drugstores. Choose newer smooth concrete as a surface. One can each of black and orange paints lasts for about 15 corners. Wear nasty old pants, as the paint will get all over you as you carry the stencils from one spot to the next. And don’t forget gloves and your homemade mask or bandana.

The image templates can be printed full size on four 8.5 x 11 sheets. Tape the templates to three pieces of minimum 11×17 cardboard, one for the text and one each for the butterfly color and outline, and cut the stencil through the templates. When stenciling, paint the orange butterfly wings first, and another butterfly “socially distancing” six+ feet away (now I’m seeing articles that 10 feet is more advisable, especially in these situations where people are still congregating in public). Then with black paint, paint the outline of the butterfly wings, the text in between the two butterflies, and free-form arrows leading from “dos metros” to each of the butterflies.

This was my first version. The template here has larger letters. Learn as you do!

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