There is an encouragement-promoting project taking social media by storm, and it all starts with some backyard rocks and a little paint.
Faulkner County is no exception to the craze. There are Facebook pages devoted to the pretty pebbles, such as Faulkner County Rocks, Vtown Rocks (Vilonia) and Conway Arkansas Rocks. Churches, schools and other nonprofits have used the project to spread the message of kindness and beauty. It appears the encouragement campaign has hit close to home, and the people are just as diverse as the rocks themselves.
Faulkner County resident Dotie Robertson Smith told the Log Cabin Democrat that someone shared a video from overseas of a school where there was a pathway of painted rocks made for a movement against bullying and she thought it was really beautiful. Smith then researched the Kindness Rocks project and all of the people in the surrounding counties who were participating.
"Over the summer we started painting rocks, and then we would take them with us wherever we went and leave them out," Smith said."We try to pass on what we saw in the video. Everyone is different and everyone is beautiful."
Smith said she believes the project is positive: "I don’t think anyone can pick up one of these rocks and not smile. It’s a sweet project. Be kind, be happy."
The Kindness Rocks Project started in Massachusetts by life coach Megan Murphy. After losing her parents at a young age, Murphy would often ask for signs from them on how to approach life’s hardships. Murphy decided that these signs would take the form of heart-shaped rocks for her dad, and pieces of sea glass for her mother. She said that she would pick them up along the way. Murphy began writing messages on rocks and dropping them for others to find.
The original project has two goals: inspiring others through randomly placed rocks along the way, and to recruit every person who stumbles upon them to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through random acts of kindness.
And recruit it did.
The project has gone viral across the United States, with branches of the project being installed from Arizona to Vermont and now Arkansas.
Facebook and Instagram have been flooded with images of painted rocks and smiling faces. Even the Arkansas State Police is getting in on the action, according to a recent social media post, where they have included pictures of the rocks they have found.
Mayflower school teacher Tracy Taylor said she heard about the project from a fellow teacher and told her daughter about it.
"I just thought it would be a fun project to spread kindness before school started," Taylor said. "I’m trying to teach my kids to think of others."
Taylor’s daughter, Katie, said the project was really fun, and she liked being able to share her favorite Bible verse.
One local businessman saw the project as an opportunity to connect with his community.
Brian Porterfield, manager of Haynes Ace Hardware in Conway, and his staff placed 10 bright yellow rocks marked with smiley faces around the city. Each rock has "Return to Ace Hardware for a surprise discount" written on them, followed by a number. When someone finds one, they can bring it into the store and the cashier will give them a surprise.
Porterfield told the Log Cabin that he first saw the rocks on social media, but earlier this month he attended a meeting where another store in the state came up with the idea of using the rocks for discounts. He thought it was a good idea, and decided to implement it in his Conway and Morrilton stores.
"We are making an effort to get as involved in the community as possible and [this] seemed like a fun way for our staff to interact with the community," Porterfield said. "We want our employees to make our customers smile."
When asked for any final comments on this smiley rock campaign, Porterfield had two words for his community: "happy hunting."
Haynes Ace Hardware store will also host a "Paint your Kindness Rock" event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Rocks and paint will be provided and all are welcome to attend.
The Kindness Rocks project has skyrocketed since it’s beginning in New England, making it all the way down to Arkansas and sparking the interest of thousands, including the Log Cabin.
Starting Monday, the LCD will place four painted rocks around the city of Conway. Find an LCD rock, and bring it in for a Log Cabin coffee mug.