It started out as a simple gesture, painting a rock and leaving it for someone to enjoy or be inspired by. Little did people know that this random act of kindness would snowball into a national movement, with rock-painting groups popping up everywhere.
In the Fresno area there are several Facebook groups with thousands of members. One of the largest is 559 Painted Rocks with 7,470 members, and growing. Other groups include Fresno Rocks, Rock Visalia with Kindness and Clovis Rocks.
MaryAnn Ek launched the 559 group as a way to interact and connect with people in the community. She was new to town and wanted to do something that would bring people together.
“I think that people are looking for something fun and wholesome to do with their entire family,” Ek said. “This group provides an opportunity to give and receive anonymously, which is why I think it is so popular across the nation.”
How does it work?
People have different approaches, but essentially you paint a flat rock with something whimsical or funny, or you can write something inspiring. You leave the rock in a place where someone can find it. If you find a rock you can take it, leave it, or rehide it, Ek said. Her only word of caution is to not hide rocks in state or national parks.
The creators of the movement, The Kindness Rocks Project, started last year with writing positive sayings on rocks and leaving them on the beach. One rock led to another, and it just grew from there.
For some, the motivation is personal. It’s a way to heal emotional wounds or deal with loss.
“We all lost our mother to cancer and this has brightened up our lives and helped us with the loss,” Wilkinson said in a Facebook message.
DJ Jones, the founder of the Merced Rocks Facebook group, said in the Merced Sun-Star that the phenomenon is a cross between an Easter Egg hunt and Pokemon Go.
“Merced needs something like this. I just love the family involvement,” he said. “It gets people off the couch, off the games and interacting,”
For others, it’s all about having fun and painting something silly. Above all else, the hope is someone will smile when they find it.