Building Community in SoMd – One Painted Rock at a Time

Kimberly Bean
Published on July 21, 2017

Building Community in SoMd – One Painted Rock at a Time

Something colorful is happening in Southern Maryland.

Creative artists are painting and hiding beautiful rocks, and if you keep your eyes open, you just might be lucky enough to find one. Where, you ask? Anywhere! Look along nature trails and sidewalks. Poke around at area businesses and schools. You never know what you’ll find!

Hiding – and searching for – painted rocks is a phenomenon that has spread across the country, inspired by the Kindness Rocks Project. The goal is to brighten someone’s day with a random act of kindness, to bring a smile to a stranger you may never meet.

How does it work?

It’s simple! All you need are rocks, paint or markers, and a keen eye. Access to social media doesn’t hurt, either, because groups have sprung up on Facebook to share clues and photos of found rocks. In Southern Maryland, you can play along in these groups:

When you hide rocks, you can give as detailed a clue as you’d like – or no clue at all. And if you find a rock, you have a choice: Keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find.

Here’s what we love most about this trend: It is building community. There is nothing but joy and support in these Facebook groups. There are no unkind words, no snarky answers to questions from newbies. In an age when we have found so many ways to divide ourselves, something as simple as painted rocks seems to be helping us connect with one another.

What else do we love? Painting rocks is for all ages and artistic abilities! Visit any of the Facebook groups above, and you’ll see amazingly detailed rocks alongside designs made by children. You’ll see inspirational quotes and favorite sports teams. You’ll see animals and bugs and abstract designs. There is only one rule when you paint your rock: Make sure you direct the finder to the Facebook group so they can report their find.

Waldorf resident Joann Acton said she and her family stumbled upon the craze by accident while walking the trails at Tilghman Lake in La Plata. “I found a painted rock with a birdhouse but didn’t know why it was there, so I put it back,” she said. “A couple of days later, something caught my eye on Facebook. I started looking around and found by chance the Charles County Rocks! Facebook group.”

Joann reported her find to the artist who made the birdhouse rock, and then she got out the paints with her twins Zoey and Bryden, who are 8. “It’s a great way to bring the community together, and my kids love painting,” Joann said. “So we went out looking for rocks to paint, and that’s how we got started.”

Joann and her family have placed three rocks so far – one of which has been reported found – and they’re not done. “I have three more ready to go out and about 30 rocks for us to paint,” she said. “I think my kids enjoy painting the rocks the most.”

Ready to paint but not sure how to get started? Join one of the Facebook groups above and start reading. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can also join The Playful Parent at its Painting Party and Ice Cream Social in La Plata on Monday, July 31.

In the meantime, be on the lookout! You never know what you’ll find next.

(Images via Joann Acton)

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