Editor's note: There’s nothing like a global pandemic to remind us of how lucky we are to live in a small, tight-knit community where no one is a stranger and everyone deserves compassion. For some Carpinterians, the COVID-19 pandemic became their Superman phone booth, the time and place to switch on their powers. We marvel at what so many community members have done to make the discomfort bearable and sometimes even beautiful. When the going gets tough, these Carpinterians get going.
It’s amazing what a colorful painted rock can do for the human spirit. This is something Becki Norton discovered while vacationing in Homer, Alaska. “Finding one made my inner child really happy,” Norton says. “I posted (a photo) on the Homer Rocks! Facebook group and decided it would be fun to bring the idea to Carpinteria.”
Also inspired by the international Kindness Rocks Project, Norton started the Carp Rocks! private Facebook group in January of 2020, and it now has more than 400 members. Finding a colorful surprise is always fun, but with the onset of a terrifying local and global crisis these bright discoveries gained new meaning: light, hope, escape.
Gratitude for the rock painters echoes through local Facebook pages: “These rock painters are so inspiring!” “I spotted these beauties today, making for joy on a Monday morning.” “Thanks for the fun. Our family loves it. Painting our own to hide later today.”
The community of rock painters goes out of its way to make everyone feel included. Group organizers hold virtual painting parties and offer encouragement to new members. Some rocks have been decorated at the hands of talented artists, while others are rough and rudimentary. All are loved by the folks who find them.
Participation is easy. To paint rocks, the necessary tools are sealer, acrylic paint, and brushes. Many painters use toothpicks, Q-tips, dowels, or simply their fingers. There’s just one rule: do not gather rocks from the beach, creeks, or forests because, “it contributes to erosion,” Norton says.
Once a rock is complete, the next step is hiding it for others to find. “We hide them anywhere around town that we visit frequently or that
we think others might enjoy finding a rock, from local parks to the downtown corridor and even out to Shepard Mesa and Santa Claus Lane,” Norton says.
“It’s a lot of fun and we encourage anyone interested to join us,” Norton says.