13:20 PM

Ohio State students rock some kindness

Initiative aims to spread goodwill

It’s not so much about the rocks as it is about the kindness.

Figuring campus could always use a little extra love – a bit of unexpected brightness and encouragement – atmospheric science major Eliza Alpeter brought the Kindness Rocks Project, a grassroots kindness initiative, to The Ohio State University on Thursday night.

The idea behind Kindness Rocks is to spread encouragement and goodwill through rocks that people transform from ho-hum to inspirational works of nature-meets-art that they deposit here and there in hopes of bringing a smile to a stranger.

Imagine stumbling upon a pink rock that says “Comparison Kills Creativity” in the middle of one of those days where you just can’t help but feel a little less-than your art school classmates, for instance. Or struggling with the idea of abandoning your dreams of becoming a doctor and happening upon a purple stone encouraging you to “Be patient. It will all work out.”

“It’s not really about the rock. The rock is just a way for people to connect to one another. The project is really about kindness and compassion and connection,” said Kindness Rocks founder Megan Murphy, who traveled to Columbus for an appearance at the Gateway Film Center that coincided with Thursday’s rock-decorating event.

“Really, this project is a call to action for people to…be more mindful of others and in the end hopefully make this world a kinder place,” said Murphy, who lives in Massachusetts and started the project.

Murphy lost her parents at a young age and in moments of introspection sought signs from them on the beach near her home. One day, she grabbed a Sharpie and started writing hopeful messages on beach rocks for strangers to find. Since then, the Kindness Rocks movement has picked up steam around the world.

Alpeter, who grew up in Hilliard and is in her third year at Ohio State, said that she was looking for an uplifting campus event in her role as a member of the Residence Halls Advisory Council.

“I know we all are stressed out about school and exams and if you just have something that says ‘Good luck on your exams’ you’re like, ‘Wow, I needed that today’ and it will help people just be happier,” she said.

Gretchen Rudolph, who is from Toledo and is in her second year studying communication at Ohio State, said on Thursday night that she’d already thought of places to drop her brightly colored rocks for unsuspecting fellow students.

“Places where I’ve kind of felt like ‘Oh, I just really need some encouragement right now,’ like walking out of a specific building and doing poorly on an exam. I know I would have liked to see a rock there,” Rudolph said.

Who knows, maybe you’ll stumble across one today.

For more information on Kindness Rocks, visit www.thekindnessrocksproject.com