Trends come and trends go. Most of the time I am left feeling incredibly disinterested in them, but this year I found myself unable to resist trying out a trending project. As the office manager of The Independent, I run lots of errands around the East Mountains. Lately, I started seeing beautiful painted kindness rocks everywhere. The first ones I saw appeared at the Edgewood Library right after they landscaped their new location. Then I started seeing them online as well.
I’m an artist and my family has always participated in different art projects and lots of craft projects. As soon as I saw the first round of painted rocks I knew I wanted to paint some. For me, painting rocks is fun but it is also nostalgic. I have been painting rocks with my family since I was little.
This summer my grandma is visiting from out of state. She is the one who always has the coolest art ideas for the family. Year after year we get together and make jewelry, rag dolls, paintings, drawings and all manner of other cool projects. This year she came to New Mexico wanting to paint rocks. I had already decided that I wanted to participate in making kindness rocks and leave them random places for people to find. As soon as I told her about it she was into it.
After we painted a bunch of them I was introduced to a local rock group on Facebook called Moriarty Rocks. The group was founded by Julie Sanders who lives and works in Moriarty. She has been painting rocks for about eight months with her two sons. She was inspired to create a group for Moriarty because she and her family discovered some painted rocks in park in Alamagordo, from a group called Alamo Rocks.
She did the same thing that my family did and went home and started painting lots of rocks and leaving them around. To tie the project into her Facebook group she also added the name of her home town and instructions to take a picture and post it online, then take the rock and either keep it or re-hide it.
She is also taking the project a step further and is participating in a rock drop event on July 3 to distribute rocks around that say “You matter.” On June 30 she will be in the Moriarty park at 10 a.m. with rocks and painting supplies. Anyone who wants to join her is invited to bring supplies and spend the morning painting.
Right after I started checking out the Moriarty Rocks group online I knew that I wanted to write about it. I called Julie and learned about her and her group and I also called the Edgewood Library to ask about the painted rocks I had seen there. I wanted to know if this was just a local trend and who was behind it.
I was also curious if the painted rocks at the library were part of this year’s summer program theme at the libraries, which is “Libraries Rock.” It turned out to be just a “cool coincidence,” as one of the librarians put it. She told me that a volunteer from the landscaping project had seem some in Albuquerque from a group called 505 Rocks. When I looked into that group I learned that it was coming out of Edgewood, and that they had changed their name to Rock’N 505.
I started talking to the folks in Rock’N 505 and found out that these little groups are popping up all over the United States. I asked around and so far the farthest one of the group’s rocks has gone is Cancun, Mexico. I also learned that rocks popped up in Mississippi, Nebraska and places around New Mexico. One person said they were planning on taking some to Louisiana and another had already left some in Colorado.
Rock’N 505 was created by a woman from Edgewood named Amanda Allen. The group encourages people to paint a rock however they feel inspired and then on the back side, write “Rock’N 505” and leave instructions to post a picture of it online then hide it again or keep it.
The group was also started as a way to encourage kids to be creative and become more physically active. Amanda’s group was started in December 2017 and the members have been trickling in ever since. Some of the favored places to leave rocks are the library, gas stations, grocery stores, skate parks, various businesses, parks and rest stops.
At this point, if you are still reading, you are probably wondering why this is worth writing about? For me, it was initially about the art but it was also about random acts of kindness. That notion is what is fueling the desire of so many people in our area and across the U.S. to participate. Why not be the reason someone’s day was brightened?
A woman name Michele Powers-Hardy told me a very touching story about why she got involved that I want to share. She said, “I started painting kindness rocks the day I felt really low and wished I would find one to lift my spirits. I didn’t find one, but that didn’t keep me from making them for others. I painted some pretty cool rocks. I know they were found and got a little upset, at first, that no one posted that they found them, but then I realized there are all kinds of circumstances. I absolutely know I made someone smile. That means more than anything.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]