Portage County is Being Rocked!

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You’ve probably heard about the growing trend of painting rocks, unless, of course, you’ve been living under a rock!

The Northeast Ohio Rocks! Facebook group is the reason behind painted rocks showing up all over Portage County. It’s a random act of kindness group started in July 2016 by Nancy Powell Pierson. She was inspired by a similar group, Whidbey Island Rocks, in Washington, and Nancy’s group has inspired several other groups to form across Ohio, the United States, and around the world. Northeast Ohio Rocks! have been found in Spain, Switzerland, South Africa and India, to name a few.

Northeast Ohio Rocks! has grown to over 116,000 members and adds approximately 1,000 new members per day. Twenty counties in Northeast Ohio are included in the group.

It’s a fun and inspiring community full of positivity and lots of smiles!

How does it work?

Members of Northeast Ohio Rocks!, referred to as “Rock Stars,” collect rocks from lakes and rivers or buy rocks, paint them, and hide the painted rocks. There are pinned posts at the top of the page that explain the details, where to buy rocks, instructions on how to paint them, and tips on hiding the rocks.

A “files” folder is also posted that contains labels to be printed and applied by decoupage to the backs of the rocks. Nancy has posted a video tutorial on how to decoupage. The labels state, “Find us on Facebook at Northeast Ohio Rocks! Post a Picture & Re-hide Me.” The labels lead the finder of the rock to the group and asks that the finder post a picture of the rock and then re-hide the rock to share the fun. The random act of kindness is to brighten someone’s day.

A list of important rules is posted that need to be followed for safety reasons and to keep the group positive and fun. Here are examples of a few rules: no children’s names are to be posted, rocks are not to be hidden in grass due to lawn mowers, and no negative posts or comments. This is a kid friendly group and all rocks are to be “G” rated. The admin often posts helpful information: “Tip Tuesday” and “Frequently Asked Questions Friday.” You can also find the list of media coverage for the group to follow this viral movement.

Who can join?

The FB group is for anyone 13 years or older, per FB rules. However, the painting and hiding is fun for all ages and all levels of talent! Don’t be discouraged if you think you can’t paint. The rocks can be as simple as just being painted colors, a smiley face, an encouraging word, inspirational quote, or easy shapes and symbols like dots, hearts, peace signs, etc.

Some people find it easier to decoupage stickers or pictures on the rocks with Mod Podge and sealant.

One member creatively adhered maps of the area onto rocks. Others, add small objects like googly eyes, buttons, pebbles, or tiny toys to the rocks. They use E6000 glue to ensure the items won’t fall off and become litter.

There are also various painting techniques being used such as splatter paint (best done outside), swirls by mixing paints on the rock, and special paints such as glitter paint, and glow-in- the-dark paint (one member painted an alien with it). For those not comfortable using paint, permanent gel pens, paint markers, and Sharpies can be used to draw on the rock.

The admin shares Artist of the Week posts in which she highlights a “Rock Star” who has been an active participant and whose talent has been inspiring. She also picks a new cover photo every week to highlight a special painted rock with credit given to the artist.

What to paint?

“Rock Stars” often get inspiration from the shape of the rock. Here’s a list of popular shape inspired rocks:

State of Ohio, sports balls, faces, dogs, alligator heads, elephants, dolphins, fish, owls, ice cream cones, cupcakes, slices of pizza, slices of watermelon, hamburgers, M&M’s, strawberries, Minions, Pokemon, Emoji (the poop one is a favorite!), feet or flip flops, ladybugs, and Pac Man.

Many people paint Cleveland themed or sport team themed rocks, superheroes, cartoon characters, movie/T.V. characters, animals, birds, flowers, food, beach scenes, camp scenes, mandalas, funny monsters, along with others.

Rocks have been painted with thank you sentiments or have images of firetrucks, firemen, policemen, etc., to honor the heroes who serve the public.

Holiday themed rocks are common, such as: hearts, shamrocks, Easter eggs, candy corn, pumpkins, and snowmen. At the beginning of April, Nancy posted a suggestion for Earth Day, “paint some earth rocks and write ‘be the change on them.’ Have fun!”

Rocks using a play on words are also a big hit: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Charlie Brown “I got a Rock,” rocks stating “Be Boulder,” “You Rock,” and many other silly puns. Not surprisingly, there’s been a surge of giraffe rocks because of April the giraffe, who finally gave birth for the world to watch on the internet!

There’s a monthly challenge posted, called the “Rock Off” challenge, which gives a specific theme to paint and hashtag to use to enter. A winner is randomly chosen to become the next month’s “challenger” who gets to pick the rock design. For example, the month of April was Moon and Stars with hashtag #rockoff417. These can be found on the Event page.

Also, “Rock Stars” turn to Google, Pinterest, other posts in the group, library books, and craft stores for ideas. The group promotes kindness only and therefore does not allow any rock that has an agenda or advertisement on it. The group is not a support group either, and therefore, requests that awareness ribbons or cause logos aren’t painted. “Rocks Stars” are reminded to see the pinned posts for further clarification.

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