For Deborah Burback, spreading kindness through rock painting is something she wants to continue to do, but she needs the community’s help to accomplish that goal.
It’s been over a year since Deborah kicked off the Kindness Rock Garden for the downtown Rock Springs community. Since that time, she’s learned a lot about maintaining the garden. However, she’s still working on how to keep the garden going, but she needs the community’s help.
The whole idea for the community Kindness Rock Garden happened through a series of events. Deborah, who is a teacher for Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 1, found out another elementary school had started a kindness rock garden for its students. She thought that was a pretty cool idea and decided to create one for the elementary school she was working at.
Deborah also knew about 307 Rocks, which is a social media site that encourages Wyomingites to paint rocks and put 307 Rocks on the bottom of the rock, take a picture of it, post it to the social page, and then hide it for another person to find. When someone finds one of the 307 Rocks they are supposed to take a photo of it, share that photo to the social media page, and then either keep the rock or rehide it for someone else to find.
“I thought ‘this will be a fun project for kids,'” Deborah said. “How do I get kids involved?”
After she created the rock garden at her school, she decided she wanted to create a community Kindness Rock Garden. With the idea formed, Deborah reached out to Chad Banks, Rock Springs Urban Renewal Agency/Main Street manager, for help.
The Community Kindness Garden
After looking over the downtown area for the perfect location, a little landscaped area at the front of the Family Vision Clinic, located at 544 Broadway Street, was donated to house the Kindness Rock Garden.
Last summer, Deborah worked to fill the garden with rocks by hosting free kindness rock-painting sessions during the Main Street Market and ARTember. During those events, residents were encouraged to paint rocks with anything design they liked knowing the rock would be placed in the community garden for all to enjoy. The event was pretty successful and everything was going great until Deborah realized most of the painted rocks were removed from the garden.
“The idea is to take one and leave one, but more are taking than leaving,” Deborah said.
With the Kindness Rock Garden lacking painted rocks, Deborah has been encouraging residents to once again participate in free painting events during the Rock Springs Main Street Market and this year’s ARTember, which is scheduled to take place in Bunning Park on September 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Deborah will supply everything needed to paint the rocks including, rocks, paint, and brushes. She has even painted a base coat on some of the rocks. The next Farmers’ Market on Thursday, August 10, from 4-7 p.m. will be the last one Deborah can attend. She will be waiting for residents to paint rocks at the Bank Court area.
Even though Deborah has tried to attend the Main Street Markets, that hasn’t always happened and she only has 15 painted rocks so far. A lot of that has to do with the thunderstorms that have been rolling through town on Thursdays.
“The storms have been horrible and so I missed a couple,” she said.
She’s hoping the weather will hold on for this Thursday’s market since it’s the last one she can attend.
For those who can’t make it to the public painting events, they can always paint their own rocks at home and add them to the community garden anytime, she said. Unlike a lot of hobbies, rock painting is pretty inexpensive. All someone needs is rocks, which they can either buy or find, paint, a paint tray, brushes, water, and Mod Podge spray, which is a protective coating sprayed on the rock after painting. It protects the rock from the elements.
“It’s just one of those hobbies just about anyone can do,” Deborah said.
Deborah is always amazed at how talented people in the community are. She said one lady painted a squirrel and another person painted a rooster. While some paint animals, flowers, or smiley faces, others simply paint words on the rocks, including “Be Kind,” “Be Safe,” “Smile,” or “Joy.”
“It’s been fun because families can sit there and paint together,” Deborah said.
“We want our garden to grow,” she said. “Hopefully, on September 9 I will get a good turnout. All ages and all abilities are welcome to attend the event.”