Kindness vigilantes make their way to Rehoboth Beach
Sometime in August, while driving through downtown Rehoboth Beach, a 3-foot-tall sign on a utility pole caught my attention. It was in the shape of a crayon, painted with the colors of the rainbow, had BE KIND spray painted in white on top, and featured a heart with an infinity sign between the words BE and KIND.
With the brown, ocean-battered utility pole as a background, the sign stood out. I took a picture and made a mental note.
A few weeks later, I noticed two more signs downtown. I took a couple more photos and reached out to the city to see if anyone had any idea who was hanging them up. Officials didn’t know.
A few more weeks passed, and while I hadn’t forgotten about the signs, things got busy and writing about them was pushed to the back burner. That changed when I saw two more signs on my way to a Baltimore Orioles game this past Sunday – one on a utility pole outside Greenwood and one on a light pole off an I-295 exit ramp to downtown Baltimore. I was driving to the game, so in both cases my wife Heather whipped out her phone and took photos – the Greenwood photo was a slow crawl across Route 113; we were stuck in game-day traffic for the Baltimore one. On a side note, my wife has learned over the years to be ready to spring into action because I’m going to ask for her assistance if that’s what it takes to get a photo.
Still sitting in game-day traffic, I asked Heather to Google, “BE KIND and crayon.” Once you scroll past some ads for actual crayons, the first link is for something called the Infinite Love Project, which was founded by Baltimore-area couple Eric Hyde Miller and Tina Thomas.
I emailed them Monday and conducted a phone interview the next day.
Thomas said Miller is a custom woodworker who started painting little wooden hearts red, adding an infinity sign in black and then handing them out to people in 2018. She said he wanted to spread some joy and she suggested Infinite Love Project as the name.
Thomas said there are usually three reactions by people who are given a heart – they say they like it, they say it was something they needed or sometimes they give a big hug.
“You never know what someone is going through. Sometimes all you need is a sign,” said Thomas.
In January 2020, Miller said he was tired of all the negativity and wanted to expand the ability to spread joy. It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, he said. He started making rectangles of plywood with the BE KIND and red heart/infinity symbol combo painted on them. Then he started hanging them up around town.
“Everybody loved them. Everything functions a little bit better when people are kind to other people,” said Miller.
Some of the signs are in the shape of a crayon because they want kids to see them. One of the first signs installed was at a middle school where Miller was bullied as a kid.
“It was quite cathartic. We just want the kids to know to be kind to each other,” he said.
Thomas and Miller installed signs in Rehoboth Beach while they were here on vacation. A self-described kindness vigilante, Miller said they installed 10 throughout town.
“We weren’t sure if Rehoboth was going to embrace the signs, but so far so good,” said Thomas.
Nearly two years in, Miller said there have been 2,300 signs installed in 35 states and nine countries. They’ve sent signs packed in six-packs to a number of friends to hang in cities throughout the United States.
“We call the six-packs Kindness Convoys,” said Thomas.
They’re mobile home communities, not trailer parks
My last column was about the interesting traffic volume data that’s available on the Delaware Department of Transportation’s website. The column had a little more than 10,000 views, which, in the world of the Cape Gazette, falls into the lower end of a story that’s gotten a lot of hits.
I bring this up because only two people sent me a note about the column, and both of them would have liked to see me use the phrase mobile home communities instead of trailer parks.
“I am compelled to request that you come a little bit into the present and realize that the trailer parks are now called mobile home parks – please,” said Karen W, in her email. “Trailers have not been built for decades. Saying trailer park can conjure up misleading, negative images. The majority of mobile homes in my community are selling at the starting price of $125,000 or thereabout.”
In hindsight, Karen and Patty C. are right. It was an error on my part and I appreciate the feedback.
Joke of the Week:
This joke is a couple months early, but I liked it, so we’re going with it. As always, send joke submissions to email@example.com.
A Viking named Rudolph the Red looking out a window: It’s going to rain.
Wife: How do you know?
Rudolph the Red: Because Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.