Bay Ridge Rocks: Hidden hand-painted stones make Bay Ridge smile

March 13, 2017 Danielle Kogan
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Over 60 pounds of positivity are hiding throughout Bay Ridge in the form of painted brown river rocks, gray Mexican beach stones and white Caribbean stones, thanks to the efforts of P.S. 102 the Bayview School’s PTA members, beginning in January of this year.

While originally bought from Home Depot with their own funds, the hidden rocks, tucked into flower pots, tree knots, telephone booths, lampposts parking meters and more, now also include donated ones — all there to be found by passersby. They are glossed over with Mod Podge so that the designs do not fade with the changing weather, painted by Bay Ridge residents with phrases like “Let Your Light Shine” and “You are Special.”

It’s an idea that Florida native Amie Jo Pappas and Rana Abu-Sbaih from Oswego remembered from their hometowns. As Reporting Secretary of the PTA Abu-Sbaih recalled, it “seems to be one that involves joy and shared creativity” and was meant “for the child in all of us.”

“This is something anybody can do,” she stressed. “You don’t need to be Picasso to create something beautiful.”

For Pappas, a personal hope is that “it just becomes a thing.” Pappas also said that she sees the initiative as a “meet-and-greet” to let fellow residents in on the project.

Some of the pieces depict animals and funny faces, and, as of March 4, flags that one volunteer group painted to represent the diversity of the surrounding community during the first of what employee Katya Schapiro said was “a really successful event” at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, that was also open to the public and enjoyed by the library regulars.

“We love hosting community events,” said Schapiro, noting the library is usually busy and space is requested in advance. The way for any inclusive, non-profit organization to get involved would include a space request form, and in this case Schapiro said there happened to be “an unexpected opening in the meeting schedule” that week.

The painting party was meant to celebrate the fact that, in the two months that Facebook group Bay Ridge Rocks has been active, it had gleaned approximately 200 members. It currently has a following of almost 400 people.

The women who put the stone scheme together felt the community needed a pick-me-up after a long winter and a passionate election.

“I’ve heard of similar projects and rock painting, but I hadn’t heard of this exact idea,” said Schapiro.

Anyone who finds a stone is encouraged to feature the photo on the page, and then can choose to keep or conceal the rock for a subsequent scavenger.

“It’s not serious, it’s not something we have to do, and it’s not for profit,” says Abu-Sbaih. The project is growing, and Abu-Sbaih has even been approached by a neighbor who encouraged her to consider bringing the project to a weekly group at a local support center.

Also inspired, Gina Kirkeby is planning to share the idea in a Girl Scout Brownie troop. Based out of Christ Church, Troop 2151 is currently working on the Home Scientist badge and attending local parades. Kirkeby found her first rock early in the week, and said “it totally made my day.”

Coming up for the Bay Ridge rocks community is a private event for the students at P.S. 102, at which a table will be set up for rocks to be painted during an art gala. Anyone interested in organizing an event or working with the group is encouraged to reach out to the community on Facebook.

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