Have you noticed any geological curiosities around Concord lately? We’e talking about the kind that come in the form of painted stones that may be scattered all throughout the city.
If you have no idea what we’re talking about, that’s okay – the craze is just getting going, and it’s called the Kindness Rocks Project.
The Kindness Rocks Project is a national initiative that aims to make people feel good and spread kindness through simple nice messages or pictures painted on stones that are left around the community for people to see and enjoy.
The project has been documented by fancy news organizations such as the Washington Post and NBC Boston, but what do they know? Since the initiative is just making its way to Concord, we figured there would be no better authority to explore it than the Insider.
Christa Zuber, owner of The Place Studio & Gallery, knows a thing or two about the project. Since she already has a whole art studio, she figured she’d open it up as a rock-making factory for anyone who wants to partake in spreading kindness.
Anybody who is interested in making a Kindness Rock can stop by the studio – located on the second floor of the Concord Community Arts Center at 40 Thorndike St. – and paint a rock during drop-in hours, which are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 8 on Thursdays and Fridays. The supplies – rocks, paint and sealant – are all there for you, and it won’t cost you anything to participate.
Since we love stuff that’s free, fun and nice, we had to stop by last week and take advantage of the opportunity to leave our mark on the city.
“People can do whatever they want,” Zuber said as we took a seat at a table at The Place. “We say you can write a nice word or saying, but it can also be a picture – whatever they think people would smile about finding.”
Not being overly blessed with artistic skills, we wanted to try to keep our rock simple, so as not to embarrass ourselves in front of the whole city (not that we’re really strangers to that). Since Zuber said a lot of people write words, we figured we could handle something like that.
Although we’re not great with art, we’re pretty good with cheesy puns (as most good newspaper folks are), so we decided we’d write “You Rock!”
See what we did there?
Zuber handed us a smooth stone that would be perfect for skipping across a pond. There was a smooth, flat surface on both sides that was well-suited for writing on. Next, she gave us a set of paint markers and turned us loose.
We’d never used these markers before, but they were perfect for this task. The tip was similar to that of a Sharpie, only it gave way under pressure to let more paint out if desired.
After a couple minutes of drawing, we were impressed with how consistent the paint flow was coming out of the markers. They never dried out, leaked or smudged, making us look a lot neater than we actually are.
After we finished our message, we spiced it up a little with a shining sun in the top left and a blue squiggly line underneath to add a bit more color.
Once the front side was done, Zuber suggested we flip it over and add the hashtag #KindnessRocksConcord. After that, we covered the whole thing with an outdoor sealant that would protect the paint.
That hashtag business, though, is one of key components to the Kindness Rocks Project.
The idea is that once you’ve painted your rock and left it somewhere for people to find, you take a picture of it and post it to social media using the tag so others can check it out. The national hashtag is the same, just without “Concord” at the end.
If you want to take it a step further, you can make this project into an open-ended scavenger hunt of sorts – take a closely cropped photo of the rock so it’s hard to tell where it is, then give people a hint or two and encourage them to let you know if/when they find it. If you find one out and about, do the same. It could be the start of the next big craze – who knows?
We went on a little expedition to some popular public places to see if we could find any. Zuber tipped us off to a few that she expected would be at Rollins Park, since she led a group Kindness Rocks-making session there during National Night Out.
Sure enough, after a few minutes of poking around, we found a collection of small, white stones sitting at the base of a tree. Two of them had simple hearts painted on them. Two others had the word “Smile” on them, and one of them looked to be the work of a diaper-clad artist – it had lots of orange streaks all over it and no words.
We left the rocks alone, though that’s not required. If you really like one that you find, you can take it. If you’ve made one and you have it with you when you find one, you can exchange it. It’s all up to you.
“It’s pretty open-ended,” Zuber said. “If you leave a rock and someone finds it, they’re welcome to take it or rehide it, or just take a picture of it.”
Here’s where the fun part starts:
We were pretty proud of our very clever and really hilarious Kindness Rock, so we went out and planted it somewhere for all of you to find.
We didn’t want it to be too easy, but we didn’t want it to be impossible, either, so we chose a popular and very well-known spot in Concord.
True Concord buffs might know the location just based on the photo (above right), but we’ll give a few hints to those who might not be familiar with every piece of gravel in the city.
We placed our rock next to another rock formation, so it feels at home.
It’s on the ground, so you’ll want to keep your eyes pointed down while you search.
If the rock was as tall as a person, it would have a nice, scenic view of nature and people from its location.
If the rock was much smaller, it would probably be in danger of being eaten by a duck.
We placed it right by a bridge, but it’s not the kind of bridge you can drive over.
Do you think you know?
We challenge you to take these hints and go out on your own treasure-hunting journey and see if you can find our creation. If you do, take a picture of yourself next to it and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be something in it for you.
In the meantime, check out The Place or just grab your own rock and paint and get busy spreading the kindness around Concord.