Kindness does ROCK

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By Ryan Van Cleave

A few weeks ago, my family went to Culver’s for some of their oh-so-yummy frozen custard as an after-dinner treat. One of my daughters slammed to a stop at the entrance. A small rock sitting on a window ledge had her mesmerized. On it was painted a cute ladybug, and when we inspected it, we discovered a little note on its underside:

Post on: Sarasota Rocks on FB
Keep or Rehide!

My daughter HAD to take it home. Not long after, we bought a bag of rocks from Dollar Tree, dug out some acrylic paint and cheap-o brushes, and got to work ourselves. But the question lingered—what WAS the whole hide-a-rock/find-a-rock thing really about beyond an excuse to get artsy with paint and an unconventional natural canvas, of sorts?

A little sleuthing showed that the global Kindness Rocks Project has two main goals.
Goal #1: Inspire others through randomly-placed rocks that are decorated with inspirational messages or uplifting images.
Goal #2: Recruit every person who stumbles upon it to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through similar random acts of kindness.

rockThe movement began in 2015 when Oprah Winfrey told Megan Murphy of Barnstable, Massachusetts, to find a way to help others. Murphy soon started picking up beach rocks, painting inspirational notes on them, and then leaving them for others to find. Her daughter pointed out that all it’d take to turn this idea into something bigger was to include a hashtag. And that’s how the Kindness Rocks Project was born. Today, the project exists on all 7 continents and has been shared tens of millions of times.
Jules Farnsworth, the administrator of the Facebook group Sarasota Rocks, says that last November, she saw a video about Lakeland Rocks and the Kindness movement. Before long, the Sarasota Rocks page was up and running, and now it boasts 2k+ members. She notes that they’re the first Kindness Rocks Project group in Sarasota, though others have since emerged in Sarasota as well as Bradenton and Venice.

Farnsworth adds that “the most important thing people should know about the Kindness movement is that if they find a rock, please post it. We’re building connections between people in the community and the artists who want to see who found their rocks. It’s like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to see your rock posted.”

She notes that some of her greatest friendships started exactly this way.

rock 2A similar movement—Peace Rocks—has been around since 2006. The main difference is that these rocks all have the word “peace” on them. President Obama and Vice President Biden both received Peace Rocks in 2011, and Peace Rocks can also be found all over the world.

“These movements offer a lot of lessons,” Farnsworth says. “One is for the artist to give without having the expectation of seeing their rocks again. That’s something we always battle. People want instant gratification and I only see 10% of my rocks posted yet I’ve put out thousands of them. But I’ve gained so many friends from this. Everyone who gets involved has found the magical feel of giving back to the community. We love seeing the smiling faces of people as they locate our hidden rocks.”

Farnsworth regularly holds rock painting events at places like North Water Tower Park and Brew Life Brewery. But it’s also pretty darn easy to grab some paint at a craft store like Michael’s, find or buy some rocks, and just get at it on your own. Best of all? Pro-level art skills aren’t required to create a huge impact in someone else’s life.

So keep an eye out for Kindness Rocks around Sarasota and consider posting the ones you find on Facebook with the #Sarasotarocks hashtag. Odds are, they might be ones that my daughters or I made. Maybe, too, we’ll put that ladybug back in circulation. Perhaps.

For more information on Sarasota Rocks, please visit facebook.com/groups/sarasotarocks/

For more information on the Kindness Rocks Project, please visits thekindnessrocksproject.com

For more information on Peace Rocks, please visit peacerocks.org

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