Over the past year, Barbara Burris has helped bring Williamsburg to the rivers of Jordan and the forests of Brazil.
And she’s done it just with painted rocks.
“These rocks can end up anywhere,” Burris said. “Sometimes we never hear about our rocks, but that’s not the point. It’s just to know it makes someone happy.”
Burris started the Williamsburg chapter of The Kindness Rocks Project in April 2017. Since then the Facebook page “Williamsburg VA ROCKS!” has gained nearly 5,000 members.
The Kindness Rocks Project is a national organization founded by Megan Murphy that aims to bring small moments of joy to people’s day through art or messages painted on rocks.
Individuals can put anything they want on the rock, from painted owls to cats dressed as members of the band KISS. Although it is not required, often participants attach a message on the back with adhesive that says, “When found please post on (Facebook) Williamsburg Va Rocks, Keep or Rehide.”
The last part of the message refers to the cycle of these rocks where individuals can keep them as a memento or hide them again for another person to find.
“Anybody enjoys finding a little surprise in life and to be a part of something that brings that to people just feels good,” Burris said.
An idea that rocks
When Dr. Matthew Eppright, an orthodontist with Williamsburg Orthodontists, was painting a giraffe on a rock with his 3-year-old daughter at an event hosted by Burris in November, he realized this was something he wanted to help spread throughout the community.
Eppright had the idea to open a rock garden at the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex which would be a small area where people could take and leave a little kindness as they pass by.
“It’s something that can put a sprinkle of kindness confetti in their lives for that moment,” he said.
The garden was built by Coleman Nursery and planted with 24 kindness rocks to spread into the community.
This isn’t the first project in connection with the kindness rock group in Williamsburg. Burris said she started a Rock Box outside of Artfully Yours that represents a similar concept. In the future, she hopes to place “rock pots,” ceramic pots filled with the kindness rocks, at various locations around town so that passersby can take part if they want to.
But part of the fun is finding a rock unexpectedly, Eppright said.
“You can be on your way to dinner or walking around Colonial Williamsburg and you just happen upon this little moment of happiness,” he said. “It shows that there are a lot of ways to spread kindness that can be very subtle. And sometimes all it takes is one moment to spread it.”
Burris said she has used the rocks to connect with groups and people from all over. Her favorite posts are those that share their story upon finding the rock. She said these rocks have touched people’s days when they’re grieving a loved one, going through chemotherapy or just having a rough time.
“If it can make people feel good, even just for a moment, then it’s worth it,” she said. “It’s amazing what just a little rock can do.”