“Westport Rocks” unifies local community spirit

“Westport Rocks” has an official Instagram, Facebook and website regularly updated with photos of the painted rocks found around town.

Photos from @westportrocks on Instagram

“Westport Rocks” has an official Instagram, Facebook and website regularly updated with photos of the painted rocks found around town.

Amid the troublesome times of the coronavirus, a local organization shines a ray of positivity onto the town with its inspirational project. 

Founded by Jen Greely and Lindsay Weiner, “Westport Rocks” is a movement designed to bring a sense of community back into people’s lives during the pandemic. The movement was inspired by “The Kindness Rocks Project,” and gives residents the opportunity to leave encouraging messages painted onto rocks in various places around town for others to find. 

Greely and Weiner themselves recognized exactly how it felt to see those inspirational messages. 

“During lockdown, it was especially meaningful to come across a rock,” Greely said. “It truly felt like a message and a way of communicating during this really difficult time. But even though the lockdown has ended we’ve kept the initiative going because it’s so important to share kind and uplifting messages not just from person to person but as a larger community.”

Greely is a professional painter, printmaker and an active member of the Artists Collective of Westport. Weiner works in education, is founder of The EQ Child and aided in establishing the Westport RULER Community initiative. (Photo by Morgan Han-Lemus ’23)

The movement encouraged anyone and everyone to participate in it. Preschoolers and adults alike have taken part in the project, and even various Staples students have picked up their paintbrushes and shared an assortment of jubilant and motivating messages on their rocks. Isabela Griffin ’23, one such student, even turned it into a small event with friends to have fun and satisfy the isolation-caused boredom.

“I thought it was a cool way to show unity through hard times,” Griffin said. “Also to show that at a time where everyone was supposed to stay away from each other and people were lonely, that we could still have a sense of community, even if it was only through a simple gesture.”

This simple gesture goes a long way, something that Weiner was familiar with as the founder of The EQ Child, a social-emotional learning (SEL) consultancy for parents, schools and communities to help nurture emotional intelligence in children.

“When we’re talking about social-emotional learning, kindness rocks fits right into a broader understanding of SEL,” Weiner said. “Creating a kindness rock challenges us to think about our own emotional awareness, how we are feeling in the moment and what kind of encouraging words we would like to offer ourselves or someone else. It‘s a great opportunity to think about and discuss positive affirmations and why we all need them.”

Greely and Weiner are both mothers of Westport students and envisioned the idea of “Westport Rocks” while sharing the difficulties of their children being isolated from the community. (Photos from @westportrocks on Instagram)

Greely and Weiner tried to have these positive affirmations seen by as many people as possible by setting up multiple “Westport Rocks” social media pages across different platforms and encouraged participants to submit photos of their own inspirational messages where they get posted to spread even more happiness.

One day the co-founders hope to turn this project into something on a grander scale. They wish to use the images of rocks that they have photographed and turn it into a public art installation or display of some kind to be showcased in town as a way to remember the positives, the kindness, the optimism and words of hope that people can offer each other not just during this time, but all the time.

Until then, if you are wondering what to do to spread positivity during these tough times or just want to do something fun, pick up a rock and some paintbrushes and join the many others like Griffin and Elle Vail ’23 who have partaken in the “Westport Rocks” movement.

“I had tons of fun,” Vail said. “I would definitely do it again.”