Keep Your Eyes Peeled: Northeast Ohio Rocks! 5

Recently, an artistic adventure began to take the State of Ohio by storm. This rockin’ addiction spread across social media, including Facebook and YouTube.
“I started Northeast Ohio Rocks! In July 2016,” says Nancy Powell Pierson. “My grandparents created the crafter in me. My daughter-in-law knows I am always doing some sort of a craft. She became involved with Whidbey Island Rocks in Washington State and suggested that I start a group in Ohio.”
Pierson did just that. Pierson took to social media and called for artists to join her in painting and hiding rocks in and around Northeast Ohio. Each rock is unique, and many are completed with a hashtag (a code following a pound sign) that allows those who encounter it to search for their rock on social media to see where it has traveled. 
Just one year after beginning the group, over 100,000 members have become involved.
“We paint and hide rocks as an act of random kindness, then pass it on. People want to feel and share kindness—the rocks have given people both. Positivity makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Participants are encouraged to place or “rehide” decorated rocks in public places, where a random individual will eventually notice the rock and pick it up. According to Pierson, the whole purpose of this exchange is to brighten someone’s day.
“We estimate 2.5 million rocks have been hidden,” she explains. “Anyone can get involved. Members paint rocks and hide them in their communities. Many will take them on vacation. As a result, rocks have been found internationally in Spain, Switzerland, Italy, France, Ireland, and even more… to get started, it is simple as joining the Facebook group and printing labels.”
The rules are very simple—rocks should be G-rated and should be created with a goal of sharing kindness. Ocassionally, the group has special rocks that are distributed—memorial rocks are hidden to commemorate lost loved ones, and some will use rocks to celebrate milestones such as marriage and anniversaries. Anything that has the potential to bring a smile is the goal for this group. In fact, they stand out from many non-traditional Facebook groups with their no-tolerance policy toward negativity. Just as they learned the joy of spreading rocks and kindness from a group in Washington, many other groups have been formed after an encounter with a Northeast Ohio Rocks! surprise.
“Each day, we add approximately 1,000 members. Each month, we have a ‘rock off’ painting challenge, and the winner chooses next month’s challenge. We really change the way people interact and share kindness in real life and online. And, recently, we became a nonprofit.”
Now, with so much opportunity for expansion, the future looks bright. Millions of rocks originating from the Northeast Ohio area have circulated, effectively forming an artistic movement that meshes social media and real life adventure. It is a charming example of twenty first century street art that is greatly celebrated, and for good reason. Few things in life beat the feeling of hiking through the serene wilderness, or taking a casual, monotonous trip to the grocery store, or simply making a pitstop at the gas station and having a colorful piece of art unexpectedly appear in your path. It is easy to see how circulating such unique pieces of art spread so many smiles. And not every member of the group creates rocks, some just search, so it truly caters to every background and lifestyle.
“So many people have stepped outside their comfort zone to paint rocks, and I love them. I am so proud of these members. I am so proud of the rocks and the journeys they take, whether it is across the street or across the country. We ask that if you find a rock, you rehide it to share the kindness as it was shared with you. Kindness is meant to be shared, after all.”
With the help of a chain reaction, a little piece of kindness may be coming your way. Keep your eyes peeled!
To join the group, log into Facebook then visit Bit.ly/NEORocks.