#413KindnessRocks: Rock-solid community spirit

Local woman starts #413KindnessRocks movement

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PITTSFIELD — If you've been wandering around Southeast Pittsfield and noticed brightly painted rocks hidden in tree crevices or along the edging of flower gardens, you can thank the "rock lady."

"You can take them home, hide them; kids can do whatever brings them joy," said Beth O'Brien, of Pittsfield, or "the rock lady," as some of the children in her neighborhood have dubbed her.

In mid-March, O'Brien began painting rocks with different characters or fun, inspirational messages and hiding them along Elm Street while on walks with her dog.

"In our neighborhood, with so many kids, I thought it might inspire them to also paint rocks and have something fun for families to do," said O'Brien, who is currently sheltering at home with her two teenage sons. She began leaving the rocks outside the back gate of Egremont Elementary School on the corner of Cambridge Avenue and Hazlewood Terrace.

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The small makeshift rock garden has a sign that encourages children to "take one to inspire; share one to motivate," with the hashtag #413KindnessRocks.

So far, she said, she's painted more than 600 rocks and left them there for children to take.

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"Last week, I did 200," she said. "They were gone within three days."

O'Brien paints the rocks with acrylic paint pens, and sprays an acrylic sealant to lock in the color. For anyone wanting to join in the fun, the rock artist said any paint will work, as long as you spray it with some kind of sealant.

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The creative mom encourages others to join in, and asks that anyone who stops by the rock garden to pick up rocks grab not only her creations, but also some by smaller aspiring rock artists.

"I love that people love my rocks," she said. "But I also want to highlight the rocks younger kids are doing. Feel free to pick one of mine and also grab one of theirs, as well. Some of them check on their rocks every day and for them, having their rocks sit there for longer can make them sad. My backyard is full of rocks painted by little ones. It's great."

To see more rocks, or to share your own, follow 413KindnessRocks on Instagram, or tag your own photos with #413KindnessRocks.

Photos provided by Beth O'Brien via 413KindnessRocks on Instagram


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