Mt. Pleasant sisters spread rock painting goodwill
By Robert Stevens
Nov. 23, 2017
MT. PLEASANT—Two sisters have discovered that combining social media and small gestures of kindness can have a powerful ripple effect, creating a positive impact on their whole community.
Deana Marsh Lebaron, 32, of Mt. Pleasant and Jessica Marsh Durfee, 31, of Spring City are the co-founders of the locally based Facebook group Positivity Rocks (SCU).
The pair of sisters and other active members of the group (which has nearly 300 followers joined since its inception two months ago) decorate rocks with elaborate painting and positive messages of kindness.
Then they “plant” them in various places around the community where they will be found.
On the back of each uniquely decorated rock is an invitation to keep the rock, hide the rock anew or leave it where you found it—along with an invitation to join the group.
“The purpose of this is to bring a little happiness to others,” Durfee said. “It’s nice to know that someone out there took the time out of their day to paint you something inspirational.
“Plus, you get to show your creative and artistic side by coming up with a design for your rock. You get to take something ordinary and make it into something extraordinary!”
The group has members countywide—all spreading their own Positivity Rocks around their towns and cities. The sisters say they have members from every walk of life, an eclectic mix that includes a grandfather who paints and hides the rocks with his grandchildren.
Lebaron stumbled across the idea while she was taking painting up as a hobby and saw some rock paintings online.
Before long, she was down an internet rabbit hole that opened her eyes to the wonderful results of painting and hiding stone with pleasant messages—something she learned has been going on for years.
Numerous similar groups (although often with a different name) exist across the state, country and, indeed, world—some of them with thousands of participants.
The sisters’ husbands, David Lebaron, an oil driller, and Robert Durfee, a truck driver, are sometimes away on work for long periods of time. The sisters saw the happy hobby as perfect for their busy mom schedules.
“Things can get so busy, but I always loved the idea of improving my community,” says Deana.
So the pair started a Facebook group for Sanpete County and began planting the seeds of a movement—painting and hiding rocks, gaining followers, hearing positive feedback.
Both sisters are raising toddler girls. Lebaron’s daughter Sophia, 1, and Durfee’s daughter Kyra, 3, round out the group’s co-founders, and the youngsters paint alongside their mothers.
The mothers both say it has been a great bonding experience with their daughters, who act as enthusiastic about spreading and discovering the rocks as their moms do.
It wasn’t long before the pair of mothers and daughters were finding the multicolored stones—often masterfully painted, sometimes with just a simple message—left by other group members and people who had discovered the gestures of kindness on their path one day.
People in the group and first-timers began posting photos on the Facebook page of the rocks they had found. Soon the entire county—Fairview, Mt. Pleasant, Fountain Green, Moroni, Ephraim, Spring City, Manti, Mayfield, Gunnison—was being dotted with messages of well-wishing.
Often the posts included the painter’s plans for the rock (whether they would leave it, keep it or re-hide it). Re-hiding is a popular choice.
According to Jessica, a rock that got left in Cedar City made its way to Las Vegas, and she expects it to travel further before long.
Feedback coming in to the group was overwhelmingly positive, say the two sisters. Deana says more than once a total stranger had told a member of the group they had found one rock in the exact right place at the exact right time, and the small gesture of gifting had turned their day into a happier one.
Other members of the community trying to spread peace have taken notice of the Positivity Rocks movement as well.
Tammy Coates, founder of the Kammy Mae Foundation—a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of domestic violence, requested that some rocks be laid at the grave of her daughter, Kammy Mae Edmunds, who died the victim of domestic violence.
Deana and Jessica, both enthusiastic supporters of the relatively new domestic violence awareness group, left a collection of their stone art at the gravesite. On each rock was a special request to leave it where it was found.
Deana and Jessica say they have high hopes for the group to continue to grow. They don’t have any plans of stopping their painting and hiding the positivity rocks, and they look forward to discovering more kind messages left by others.