Photo via 901 Rocks Facebook page
What started as an idea for a Midtown neighborhood through a pitch on the Nextdoor app has blossomed into a full-fledged community-wide activity.
In July, Lisa Dawson posted about the possibility of starting a group called Midtown Rocks as an activity for her children, after hearing about a friend participating in a similar activity in Washington. The idea is simple enough: paint rocks (with positive messages, colorful characters, or anything you'd like, and tag them with #901Rocks) and "plant" them throughout the community, like a city-wide Easter egg hunt.
Amy McSpadden saw the post and found it to be a great idea. "Lisa and I were complete strangers on July 15th when she posted about [Midtown Rocks]," McSpadden says. "I was working at Golf and Games in their Summer Camp division and felt this would be a perfect activity for our campers. As an artist and art teacher at Bruce Elementary, I jumped in feet first."
After Dawson realized a few of her Nextdoor connections were interested, she created a Facebook group. "Amy was one of the first members, along with a handful of others," she says. "Amy's enthusiasm matched my own, so we talked often concerning places to hide rocks. It was in discussing that, we realized it's bigger than just Midtown."
They changed the name to 901 Rocks so that all of Memphis and the surrounding areas could get involved. "While we were messaging back and forth, I was envisioning people on The Greenline planting joy for others, expecting nothing in return," McSpadden says.
The first few rocks were hidden in Central Gardens and Cooper-Young where Lisa and Amy live. But in just two months, the group of participants has grown from a handful of members to nearly 20,000. On the Facebook page, people all across the city and out into the suburbs, even as far as Arlington and Atoka, share photos of their painted rocks, clues on where they're hidden, and images of their found treasures.
"I am amazed every day by the response to 901 Rocks. It was something I had started in order to encourage more family time and less electronics time," Dawson says. "My Facebook news feed is filled with smiles after smiles, and I love it! Memphis needed some positivity. We believe in Memphis, and this is exactly why. We have come together as a community to spread joy around the city."