Over recent weeks we have seen the neighborhood buzzing about artfully decorated stones being found around town. Residents have spotted them outside grocery stores, at the end of their driveways or while out for a stroll. Some of these rocks have inspirational sayings while others have colorful images painted on. So, of course, I decided to dig into the origin of this trend and reach out to an artist who has been “rocking” Oakland Park.
The viral trend of painting or writing on stones and leaving them scattered for the next person to find began in 2015. Meghan Murphy left a rock that said “You’ve got this” at a beach in Cape Cod which was later recovered by a friend. The discovery of the rock was so inspirational to the friend that Murphy became motivated to continue painting pebbles and dropping them in hopes of awakening more positivity in others.
Over time “The Kindness Rock Project” developed into an international movement. Folks from all walks of life and of all ages began decorating pebbles of their own to drop around their neighborhoods. Social media groups were developed to spread more awareness of the journey some of these rocks would take being found and dropped from person to person. Some would add a hashtag to the back of the rock so the finder could post where the rock was discovered and the creator could see to where it had traveled. Broward County Rocks is a Facebook group of almost 3,000 members. They decorate and drop their rocks or find the rocks of others and hide them again for someone else to discover.
I caught up with a local Oakland Park rocker, Meghan Nicoletti, and she was able to tell me more about why she chose now to fill the town with her beautifully created stones.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown and quarantine, I thought I would like to spread cheer to our neighbors who were also on lockdown and probably taking short walks around their homes, either walking their dogs or just getting some fresh air. So, I started hand painting rocks with positive messages to help our neighbors find some inspiration to carry on during uncertain and unfamiliar times. My messages were always upbeat such as: You are Amazing, You are Loved, Relax, You are Well, Be Creative, Check on Your Neighbor, etc.
She was proud to share that 2 other residents that found her rocks began painting and dropping pebbles of their own. She knew that the trend had been around for quite some time but it was rewarding for her to inspire others to share positive messages and cheer to others. Especially during these current times, it is essential to feel positively connected to the community and “rocking” Oakland Park is a fun way to achieve it. “It’s really about being a beacon of light in a time of uncertainty. I firmly believe that what you focus on will increase and multiply in your life – so I choose to focus on the GOOD!”
In case you’re feeling inspired to continue to spread joy with these pebbles of hope, International “Drop a Rock” Day is right around the corner on July 3rd. In previous years themes like Love & Rainbows, You Matter and Harmony were featured in hopes of inspiring positivity. This year’s theme is Together.
Meghan Nicoletti explained that the pebbles used can be from anywhere and admitted that the first 100 or so came from her personal garden until she began purchasing them from the Garden center at Lowes. She prefers acrylic paint for her works and recommends to seal them with a clear coat to protect the art from the elements. Artistic ability is NOT required when creating these little works of art.
This is the perfect activity to explore with the entire family. It allows for a creative craft, the lesson of creating something in hopes of inspiring others and encourages physical activity while exploring where to leave the rocks. Nicoletti confessed that her rocks are dropped mostly wherever her 2 Dachshunds lead her during their walks.
If you happen to come across someone else’s rock, she says, “Finders can either keep the rock, re-home it for someone else to find or make one of their own and spread the joy!”.
Much like the recent story of the rainbow paintings in the windows and sidewalks, the painted rocks around Oakland Park continue to spread the message that we are a close knit community and are here to help, inspire and motivate one another. I can guarantee we will be on the lookout for one of these colorful rocks the next time we are out for a summer stroll around the neighborhood!
Christine Chaparro is an Oakland Park native and lives in the neighborhood with her husband and three kids. She is slated to graduate from Florida International University this summer with her Bachelor’s degree in Writing and Rhetoric and hopes to show her children that any obstacle can be overcome with the right attitude and hard work.
When she is not writing or submerged in school work, she is creating memories with her family. She enjoys crafting, building, renovating, gardening and cooking. Competition is big in the Chaparro house whether it be super-soaker fights, pranks or board games. Miami Heat basketball and Florida Panthers hockey are her two favorite teams to cheer on. Her family loves the Oakland Park events and supporting local businesses.