Ottawa Hills Rocks kicked off at the Ice Cream Social.
During their strolls along the sidewalks of Ottawa Hills this summer, residents might discover a tiny piece of artwork. The small, colorful objects are decorated river rocks, courtesy of the Ottawa Hills Foundation's latest public arts project, Ottawa Hills Rocks.
Foundation board member Sandy Brown suggested the program to the Foundation in the spring, after learning about a similar program in Florida that has proved to be wildly popular.
Ottawa Hills Rocks is a program for the entire community. People of all ages, from children to grandparents, can spend some quality time together painting and decorating rocks with creative designs or messages of inspiration. After sealing their rock with a clear coat spray to protect it from the elements, people can hide their vibrant creations throughout the Village for others to discover.
"The whole idea was that it was something for a family to do, to have fun, turn off the television, and be able to sit around and enjoy each other's company," Brown said.
The goal of the program is to bring the community together and encourage people to get outside and explore different parts of their neighborhood. She hopes the entire community, including churches and groups outside of the school, will get involved with the program.
The Ottawa Hills Foundation has made rocks - small, Caribbean beach pebbles from Home Depot - available at the municipal building and Community Room at the Elementary School. People can pick up some rocks for free and take them home to decorate. People only need to acquire acrylic paints or permanent pens, such as Sharpie markers, to decorate the rocks.
The next step is to hide their creation in any of a number of public places, including Arrowhead Point, the Elementary School playground, the Jean Youngen Municipal Building, or the Brookside Road meadow. People are encouraged to post a picture of their rock, or any rock they find, on the Ottawa Hills Rocks Facebook page. After that, they should either move the rock or replace it with a new one.
"The idea is to keep people guessing, keep it moving, keep it fun," Brown said. "You don't have to replace it in the same spot. The idea is that, you found a rock, now you should paint a rock, or hide the rock you found someplace else, so it's always changing. Keep them, collect them, exchange them, whatever you want to do with them. It's an inexpensive, fun thing to do."
The Ottawa Hills Rocks kickoff was at the Foundation's All-Village Ice Cream Social on June 3. More than 250 people attended the event, with dozens of residents, both children and adults, decorating rocks. A number have already been found, with photos posted to the Ottawa Hills Rocks Facebook page.
The program will run until October, and Brown plans on having rock-decorating tables set up at both the Foundation's Labor Day party and the Fall Festival.
Brown said there are several program guidelines: images should be appropriate for children and PG rated, use the small river rocks, do not put rocks in the street or directly on the sidewalk, and be respectful of neighbors' yards.
Brown hopes many people will participate in the program, so the community and families can come together, and so that there will be many rocks to discover when walking around the Village.