Greenville Rocks project gets community outdoors

Published 5:25 pm Friday, March 24, 2017

The rocks that adorn the city streets, nooks and crannies of Greenville range from neat, simplistic designs to incredibly complex works of art. Locals are encouraged to participate in the activity regardless of their artistic prowess.

The Camellia City has become a bit more colorful in the past week, and it has little to do with the arrival of spring.

A growing populace among Greenville’s residence has taken to painting, decorating and then hiding rocks around the city for others to find as a part of a community project called Greenville Rocks.

The rather unorthodox idea– which has inspired children and adults alike to explore and see their hometown from a new perspective–comes from an even more unlikely source.

My 8-year-old daughter, Wynn, was on the phone with her cousin, who is doing something very similar in North Augusta, N.C.,” said Greenville resident Jan Lowery.

The conversation served as the spark of inspiration for Wynn to do the same in her hometown.  And though the thought was immediately met with hesitation, Lowery said that she opted to “say yes and see what happens.”

What happened next was much more than any of them had bargained for.

“My first inclination was that I don’t know that an 8-year-old can start a community-wide project,” Lowery said. “But then I thought why not let her give it a try?  So I sat down and helped her get the Facebook page started—because she’s 8 and I’m not going to let her on Facebook by herself—and that was exactly a week ago. 

“It’s already up to 150 members on the Facebook group, and it really seems to have caught on.”

Participants can use any variety of colored pencils, oil pastels, crayons or markers to decorate rocks, which are then sealed via clear spray paint. The rocks are then hidden for others to find, and explorers are encouraged to post their finds to the group’s Facebook page.  The rocks can then be kept or re-hidden to keep the cycle going.

There are a few general guidelines on acceptable hiding places—lawns and other tall-grass areas where lawnmowers might cut are a no-go.

But rules are few and far between, including how one chooses to participate.  Greenville’s less artistically-inclined residents can forgo the painting phase and focus on hiding and finding rocks, if they prefer.

“Some of the ones that we found were extremely artistic and very well done, but it doesn’t matter how much talent you do or don’t have,” Lowery said.

“My four-year-old has some that are pretty much just colorful blobs of paint, and she’s just as proud and thoroughly enjoys hiding them.  We’ve had grownups going on afternoon walks on their lunch breaks at work and going to look for rocks, and they said that it got them out and exercising.”

Ultimately, as many families across town have discovered in the past week, the activity mostly serves as a vehicle for family time, whether that be spent indoors or outdoors.

“Greenville is a beautiful community, so why not get outside and enjoy it?” Lowery said.  “My kids enjoy painting and hiding rocks just as much as they enjoy finding them.  And they think it’s an adventure every time we go hunt or hide. Just sitting around the kitchen table and painting rocks has become a family activity.

“The whole thing is just to bring joy into somebody’s day.”