By Michael Sieber
Who would’ve thought finding a painted rock while out on a walk through town or the park would be cause for celebration, but that’s exactly what’s going on in Harrison and surrounding counties. East Central Ohio Rocks is a group started in March of this year on Facebook by Cadiz resident, Linda Porter, which encourages people to not only paint and hide rocks, but to get out and look for them.
“The group came about when I saw rocks posted by a group in Northeast Ohio. I joined that group, but quickly learned they would not officially include Harrison and surrounding counties because we are not in Northeast Ohio. It was suggested that we begin our own group,” said Porter. Porter says the group exists to show acts of random kindness to brighten someone’s day. She goes on to say that those who participate receive benefits as well. “When we are creating, our mind is moved away from the stress in our lives and issues in the world. When we hide rocks we are giving and that feels good.”
Currently, the group includes Harrison, Belmont, Jefferson and Guernsey counties while Carroll and Tuscarawas are included in another group. Porter says it’s important to not infringe on another group’s territory as that will weaken that group. Membership is open to anyone and there are only a few rules: Be respectful; don’t paint foul language or insulting pictures on rocks; no advertising, and don’t paint political issues, hot topics or issues involving adult concerns on rocks. “We’re not that kind of group,” Porter says.
How it works is a group member paints a rock, and hides it in a park or around town where it can be found. The finder then takes a photo of themselves and the rock and posts it to the group’s Facebook page using the appropriate hashtag. They then re-hide the rock in a different location for someone else to find. Once a member paints a rock, they can go to the group’s Facebook page to download hashtag files and add their own hashtags, which help people find postings on social media. Labels that read: “Find us on Facebook at East Central Ohio Rocks! Post a picture and re-hide me and use my hashtag to follow me,” can also be downloaded from the Facebook page. “I’ve been told that kids are asking their parents to get out and walk with them to find rocks. It’s getting people out in the fresh air to exercise and enjoy a little fun,” Porter said.
Group member Cathy Cope Rose said, “My teenage granddaughters and I decided to join in. We have painted and hidden rocks . . . it’s really fun when someone finds a rock you painted. Linda has brought the community together and some of us have made new friends through this project.”
While any rock can be painted, Porter says the best rocks are of the smooth variety, with the exception being polished rocks. She says she found small bags of rocks in the “dollar store,” but your best bet is to go to Lowes, Home Depot or a landscaping store where you can buy a bucket of decent rocks cheaply. To secure the hashtag labels to the rocks, Porter recommends using Mod Podge and to also use some type of sealer such as Duraclear to seal the paint. The group is growing every day, and as of this writing, the group is close to 500 members.
According to Porter, the northeast group began in July of 2016 and now has 109,143 members. Anyone wanting to join the group can find them on Facebook. It’s a closed group, but Porter says all you need to do is send a friend request and she’ll add you to the group. “We’re hoping to get a group together soon for a painting party. We’re a new group, but we’re growing.”