Rocking the Square
“Kindness” Movement Rocks Ocala
Members of the Ocala Rock Art group pose together on the Ocala Downtown Square during the Ocala Rock Art Rocking The Square event in downtown Ocala on Saturday, May 21, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.
As part of the international “Kindness” Movement, members of the Ocala Rock Art group gathered Saturday evening at the square in downtown Ocala to place, or “hide in plain sight,” rocks that had been painted with various designs and mottos. Rocks were hidden randomly on window ledges, in trees, benches or flower planters.
The hope of the group is that visitors to the square will spot the rocks, read whatever message is painted on them, and keep them to enjoy, or pass on or “rehide” it if they wish. “It is all about spreading kindness,” said Teresa Fikaris, who explains that Ocala Rock Art is a local Facebook group that is about sharing rock art throughout Ocala and surrounding areas.
The first event of the group was in 2017 at City Hall. The group participates in the annual Trunk or Treat festivities, distributing painted rocks and also goodies for children. In the past the group has been active with family movie days, hiking days and other events. Fikaris said anyone can join the group. It does not require being an artist. Any level of talent, and any age person is welcomed. We are not in competition with one another, she added. “Our motto is, Bringing joy to people through rock art.”
The Ocala group is part of an international movement, Fikaris explained, the local organization boasting 1,900 online members. “It is a fun thing that has spread like wildfire,” she said, adding, “just about any town has local groups painting rocks and spreading kindness.” She told of a woman who was at a local grocery store who reported receiving an upsetting phone call who found a rock there and reported she felt it was as if God spoke to her through the message on the rock and it meant a lot to her.” One of Fikaris’ rocks was found by a person in England, she shared. How the rock traveled to England is unknown.
Folks who find a rock will notice there is a message on the back of the rock asking the finder to take a picture of it and post their find on Facebook, noting where they found it and its meaning to them. Those interested can join the rock painting kindness group on the Facebook page. The group meets once a month at the Cornerstone Pentecostal Church in Ocala.
Member Denise Myford said, “I have heard and seen results from people who found rocks and it just brightened their day. We don’t know what people are going through but knowing that a little act of kindness made them smile…that’s what this is all about, adding, “What attracted me was not only the creativity, but that they are given away. They aren’t for profit.”
Each local member who “rocked the square” Saturday brought at least ten rocks to locate in the downtown area.