Jacksonville Rocks capturing the imagination of many

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By Martie Thompson
editor@floridanewsline.com

Keep your eyes peeled: there is a new group in town that is hiding creatively painted rocks to spread joy and brighten your day. The community-building group known as Jacksonville Rocks is modeled after other groups in the state and in the nation that aim to inspire creativity and encourage people to explore the local area.

Kris Bloss started the group on Facebook last October after becoming aware of a similar rock hiding group in Whidbey Island, Wash., last summer. When she saw another group in Pinellas County, Fla., shortly afterwards, she knew she had to start a group on the First Coast.

“I like painting and I like people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors,” Bloss said. “I want to encourage people to visit the beautiful places in Jacksonville, and maybe if they are looking for rocks, they will.”

Bloss is in the Navy Reserve and lives with her family in Mandarin. Her young children are budding artists and her three-year-old enjoys hiding the rocks.

“He puts them in places where kids go,” Bloss said.

But this not a hobby just for children. Bloss said she hides the rocks anywhere she thinks people should visit, such as Losco Park, Chuck Rogers Park, Alpine Groves Park and Treaty Oak Park. She will often post hints for finding the rocks on the group’s Facebook page. She also hid some rocks in the garage at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, because she said she could imagine that people going there, possibly with ill children, could benefit from the joy of finding an inspirationally painted rock.

Bloss cautioned that rocks should not be hidden in such a way that they would interfere with landscapers or lawn mowers and that participants should not trespass to hide rocks.

Presently, the Jacksonville Rocks Facebook page has nearly 700 people in the group and Bloss said it is growing daily.

So, how can you participate? This hobby is basically free and there are no time constraints. Simply find some rocks (or small rocks used for landscaping can be purchased at big box stores) and then let your creativity flow. Bloss recommends acrylic paint and/or permanent markers and a UV resistant clear sealer. She said family-friendly artwork is appreciated as children often find the rocks. On the back of the rock, reference the Facebook group, Jacksonville Rocks.

If you find a painted rock, you can either keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find. If you decide to keep the rock, you are encouraged to hide a new rock somewhere to keep the movement going. You can post pictures of the rocks you paint or the rocks you find on the Facebook page if you would like, although this is not required.

Bloss encourages participants to let go of the painted rocks once they are out of their possession. She said to consider them a gift and realize that you may never see them again.

“But it is nice when someone posts that they have found your rock,” she said.

Bloss said the intention of the Facebook group and Jacksonville Rocks community is singular and simple: Spread joy. That’s it.

So the next time you are out and about and you find a painted rock, receive the joy. And maybe you will decide to participate and spread some joy yourself.

Photo courtesy Kris Bloss