Painted rocks going viral, spreading cheer across Northeast Ohio

The Northeast Ohio Rocks group paints kind messages on rocks, then hides them for others to find

Northeast Ohio Rocks started as a small group idea in Alliance. Now, brightly painted rocks are popping up all across Northeast Ohio and beyond.


ALLIANCE, Ohio (WKBN) – Northeast Ohio Rocks started as a small group idea in Alliance. Now, brightly painted rocks are popping up all across Northeast Ohio and beyond.

“They’re about cheering somebody else up,” said Nancy Pierson, who started the Facebook group with her husband in July 2016. “You don’t know who’s going to find the rock, so they’re about everybody.”

The Northeast Ohio Rocks group paints kind messages on rocks, then hides them for others to find. This isn’t a little project, as the Facebook group is expected to grow to 100,000 members this week.

“We would travel all over Northeast Ohio and just leave rocks to kick-start the community,” said Pierson, who got the idea from a group while visiting family in Port Angeles, Wash. “And then they would want to join.”

So, the small kindness-spreading project has turned into a giant game. And there are rules when it comes to making the rocks.

The Northeast Ohio Rocks Facebook page advises to: use paint, chalk, crayons or sharpies to create your message; write “re-hide me” on the back of the rock, as well as a reference to the Facebook page; and post your G-rated artwork to the page. Also, when you find a rock, post a picture to the Facebook page and re-hide it.

Pierson said there’s more than 500 rock groups across the U.S., but Northeast Ohio’s is the largest.

“You just put a little something on the front of [the rock],” she said. “And then we have tags on the back that say ‘Find us on Facebook’ — that we’re Northeast Ohio Rocks — and post your picture with the rock and re-hide it.'”

And the rocks don’t just stay in Ohio.

“They’ve been found in Tanzania, Africa, they’ve been found in South Korea, they’ve been found in Bora Bora,” Pierson said. “It’s just amazing that people take them on vacation with them and leave them or put them in other states and it encourages other groups to be formed.”

There are other ways to participate other than joining the Facebook group.

For example, if you’re on your way and you happen to find a rock on the ground, pick it up and hide it in a new location. That way, those kind messages keep circulating.

Pierson said some of the hot spots to hide the rocks in are in parks, behind trees and even in stores on the shelves.

“You can walk past somebody and you don’t necessarily make eye contact with them,” she said. “But if you just laid a rock down and you turn around and you see them picking up that rock, you see them smile and it’s incredible.”

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