Beth Deyo is a freelance writer and healthy-living enthusiast focused on finding true happiness while calming the chaos of everyday life.
“One message, at just the right moment, can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.”
— The Kindness Rocks Project
All around the world, people are spreading inspiration and joy to those who need it most. The magic is happening one simple rock at a time.
The movement began three years ago with one woman searching for meaning in her life. Having lost both of her parents when she was in her early twenties, Megan Murphy regularly had conversations with them in her head during her daily walks along the beach. She would ask them to send her small signs to help guide her in making life decisions. To Megan, a small piece of sea-glass or a heart-shaped rock was seen as a message from heaven.
One day it dawned on her that others may be walking on the same beach, struggling with issues of their own. Without giving it much thought, she grabbed a marker and wrote inspirational messages on five rocks, dropping them along the beach during her daily walk.
When her friend happened to find one of the rocks and reach out to her, Murphy realized what a huge impact her idea could have. She began leaving more rocks around for people to find and eventually created a small rock garden with a sign encouraging those who happened upon it to take one from the pile and leave it where someone else might find it. The idea caught on, and soon the project took on a life of its own.
From a Single Act of Kindness to an International Movement
The Kindness Rocks Project has come a long way from its humble beginnings on a beach in Cape Cod. Thanks to participants adding the hashtag #thekindnessrocksproject to their painted rocks, it’s been easy to track the spread of this movement. Kindness rocks have been spotted all across the continental United States, Hawaii, and around the globe including Canada, Ireland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Haiti. Those who find the rocks use the hashtag to connect on social media, sharing their photos and stories.
Murphy is very modest when it comes to the enormous growth the project has experienced over the past few years. Instead, she contributes the project’s popularity to people’s collective desire to be kind to strangers and leave the world a little bit better than they found it.
How to Bring Kindness Rocks into Your Community
If you’re ready to start your own Kindness Rocks Project, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s easy to do. All it takes is some basic supplies and a desire to leave a positive mark on the world. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Find Your Tribe
Before you start your own Kindness Rocks Project, check to make sure there isn’t already one in your community. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. Adding your contributions to an already-established group allows you to leverage their knowledge and the work they’ve already done. You’ll also have the advantage of meeting like-minded people and possibly making some new friends.
If there isn’t a group in your area yet, feel free to start your own. You can paint and place rocks by yourself, with friends and family, or make it more formal by inviting other community members.
2. Gather Your Supplies
Smooth rocks of all shapes and sizes are ideal for spreading your message. Be careful about taking too many rocks from their natural environment, as doing so can contribute to erosion, disrupt animals’ natural habitats, and even disrupt river flows.
As an alternative, try contacting your local gardening club to see if they have extra rocks to donate to your cause. Otherwise, you can purchase your rocks from local craft stores, online retailers, landscaping professionals, or hardware stores.
Some of the other supplies you'll need include:
- Outdoor-safe, multi-purpose paint or patio paint
- Permanent markers
- Paint brushes and sponges
- Acrylic spray sealer
Make sure everything you use for your project is non-toxic, so your rocks don’t contaminate the soil or water supply.
3. Organize the Event
If you’re going to involve a group, you’ll need to plan your painting event. First, find a location that’s big enough to hold everyone. Check with local businesses, yoga studios, or community centers. You’ll need enough tables and chairs to accommodate the group, and you may consider laying down sheets of plastic and drop cloths to protect the area.
Make sure you have enough supplies and consider doing some research about the best ways to paint your rocks. You may want to print up instructions and lists of inspirational quotes to help everyone get started.
Decide whether your group will place all of their rocks in a designated “kindness garden” or if they’ll take them home to hide on their own. If you’re sending participants home with their rocks, make sure to share tips for responsible placement.
4. Spread the Kindness
If you’re placing all the inspirational rocks in a single location, you’ll probably need to get permission from the local government or owner of the property. Otherwise, follow these important tips for safe and responsible rock placement:
- Place your rocks where they’ll be easy to find and won’t get in the way
- Avoid placing rocks in people’s yards (they could ruin someone’s lawnmower)
- Stay away from national parks and national forests (avoid violating “leave no trace” rules)
- Always ask permission before leaving rocks on private property (homes and businesses)
- Leave only the rocks and nothing else (don’t attach anything to the rocks, animals could choke)
- Only hide rocks during daylight hours (otherwise you could trip alarm systems)
Following these simple guidelines will help ensure your rocks spread inspiration and joy without causing any disruptions.
5. Stay Connected
Encourage everyone to include #thekindnessrocksproject hashtags on their rocks. This gives the people who find them an easy way to learn more about the project. Following the hashtag on social media also allows you to view and track related photos, videos, and stories.
Consider starting a website or Facebook group for those participating in the project. This helps everyone stay in touch, share their experiences, and plan future events.
© 2018 Beth Deyo