Rock Garden Brings Smiles and Hope to Visitors

Photo by Elizabeth Mendia / Kern Valley Sun
The Rock Garden brings inspiration and positive thoughts to the valley.

By Elizabeth Mendia
Kern Valley Sun

A little garden has sprung up in downtown Kernville, right in front of the Buzzard Gulch Trading Post, but you won’t find any rutabagas or tomatoes here; Instead, you will find personal affirmations in the form of rocks; they are part of what it’s creator, Robin Harmon of Wofford Heights, referred to as a local iteration of a social movement known as “The Kindness Rock Project™”

The local rock garden consists of two small plots with a colorful sign behind each, instructing passersby to “Take one for inspiration; Share one for motivation; Leave one to help our garden grow.” The idea is that individuals can freely take those rocks with the painted messages that are most meaningful to them, and likewise, anyone can leave a rock with a message meant to inspire or to raise the spirit of others.

Harmon says the purpose of the rock garden is to “bring positive thoughts during such chaos going on in our world.” The Kindness Rock Project™ website states “Our purpose is simple, to cultivate connections within communities and lift others up through simple acts of kindness.”

“I made the signs and we built the garden last Saturday with 70 rocks,” added Harmon, who painted the initial crop of rocks along with friends Kimberly Riley, Dawn Bute, and Cora Kelly. “The response to the garden has been strong,” affirms store owner Connie Morris of the Buzzard Gulch Trading Post. The Buzzard Gulch Trading Post is an antique and curio shop located along Piute Drive. There were plenty of tourists and other visitors stopping to admire the rocks when we visited on Saturday.

Harmon had been painting rocks for several years as part of a local group, but only recently decided to initiate the garden in Kernville. The group, known as “Kernville Rocks!” has a Facebook page with 978 members. A second similar group exists in the Valley that goes by the name of Kern River Valley Rocks! (paint & find) that has 627 members and also meets to engage in rock painting as a social activity.

As for the rocks themselves, messages included short phrases like “Love,” “Choose Peace,’ “Karma”, “Just Breath,” and “Fearless” to thoughtful affirmations such as “Be the reason someone smiles today.”

The broader Kindness Rock Project Organization™ was founded by Megan Murphy in Cape Cod, MA several years ago. Since then it has grown into a national movement inspiring similar rock gardens in numerous communities. The organization’s website features instructional resources including a “Social-Emotional Curriculum Learning Module” for younger students in grades K-5, a Podcast, and information about grants and sponsorship opportunities for local gardens.

The Kindness Rock Project™ has been featured in media outlets including The Washington Post, Parents Magazine, Today.com, and others. For additional information about the Kindness Rock Project Organization™, visit www.thekindnessrocksproject.com. To get involved with the local project in Kernville, reach out to Ms. Robin Harmon through social media.

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