Painting the Town introduces kindness rock garden

The Kindness Rock Garden encourages residents of the community to engage in the garden by painting a rock, sharing a rock or adding rocks.

Painting the Town creative team member Kristine Storm has started a new interactive art project called Community Kindness Rock Garden.

The garden is positioned outside of the Rangers station at Washington Lake Park and is filled with all sorts of rocks with kind words painted on them. The park staff added a thousand unpainted rocks to the garden and Storm took 100 of them home to get the garden started.

“The whole concept of painting rocks and sharing them has really grabbed on,” said Vicky Binetti, Washington Township Environmental Commission chair. “We think this is sending a wonderful message, and it’s really just a good thing to be doing right now, when so many of us are stressed out.”

“Rock painting gives the artist of any age or skill level a creative outlet,” Storm explained. “It also reminds the recipients that people do care. We hope it shows how one random act of kindness can have a positive impact on a person’s day.”

The garden happens to be next to a park bench dedicated to Daniel Rozmes, a teacher, vice principal and principal in the Washington Township School District who died in 2010.

“Apparently he was very well known for being a nice, generous and caring man,” Binetti said. “It just seems to be a perfect location by coincidence … It is something he would have enjoyed.”

Community members are encouraged to take a rock for inspiration, share one for motivation or leave one to help the garden grow. Participants can come to the garden to read inspiring words or take a rock home to paint and bring back to enlarge the collection.

“Rock painting has really taken off in our country and in our community in the past three years,” Storm noted. “There is a huge Kindness Rocks movement on social media generating rock gardens like ours …  If people in our community enjoy the garden, we hope to keep it and possibly designate other areas of the park or throughout the community for rock gardens.”

Painting the Town observes COVID-19 safety precautions by asking participants to be vigilant in their hand washing when bringing in or taking rocks. They also are asked to wear a mask and keep socially distant in the garden.

Storm’s advice for those who want to paint rocks is to coat the design with Mod Podge to make the rocks easily washable without destroying the art. 

“People are welcome to pick up a rock they’d like to keep or drop off rocks they wish to share,” Storm added. 

This is not the only current project for Painting the Town: The organization is asking the community to participate in a call for artists in its Public Murals Project. 

“We are looking for something that excites the imagination,” Binetti said. “If you see these giant wings on the wall, you can stand in front of them and pretend you’re a bird or a butterfly. What makes me happy is the concept, and what we want is for people to be uplifted and a little bit of a sense of humor, maybe a little bit of curiosity. Something that makes people smile.”

Painting the Town is seeking participants to submit interactive mural art work that will be displayed on five different panels during Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The panels will be placed in different areas of the township for residents to enjoy. The murals will eventually be moved to Washington Lake Park, where they will be placed on buildings as permanent installations.

Anyone interested in participating in the Mural Project can submit entries by Nov 6. to sustainable@twp.washington.nj.us (write Public Mural Project in the subject line).