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Hope Rocks

Ginell Cooper got the idea on a walk with her daughter. In Northeast Portland, in May, they came across the “Portland Hope Fence” – a wooden number covered in stay-positive slogans. The owner just wanted to spread cheer during the pandemic, and soon their fence was covered with graffiti of the good kind.

The big banner sentiment: “WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.”

Cooper, the vice chair of Fairview’s community engagement committee, got thinking. Maybe we can do something like this in Fairview. The city needed a lift. With COVID, all community events have been cancelled.

But how do you create a sense of togetherness…when no one can be together?

Cooper thought of the rock painting activity that is so popular at events like Fairview on the Green and National Night Out. Everyone can do it. It’s fun. And you can paint rocks at home. And leave them around town, with inspiring messages or cute images on them. Maybe create a little joy, spread a little hope. She brought the idea to the community engagement committee, and found out about Fairview Rocks, a treasure hunt created by resident Kelly Nagle Jones. She created a Facebook page that encourages people to find painted rocks posted on the page along with clues. Picture a colorful, city-specific version of geocaching.

The group banded together to promote the Hope Rocks gardens – two places in town where you can bring painted rocks to give to your neighbors or take some home for inspiration. “Kinda like the leave-a-penny, take-a-penny dish you see at the store check-out,” Cooper says. One of the gardens is located at Fairview Community Park, 21600 NE Park Lane across from City Hall. It’s right at the base of the bear statue. The other Hope Rocks garden runs along the border of the historic jail at Handy Park, located at 120 First Street.

The Hope Rock Gardens launched in late July, and Nagle Jones helped organize a city-wide rock painting party on August 8. Dozens of rocks have been painted so far – some left, some taken. To join in, get a free rock painting kit by contacting Fairview City Recorder Devree Leymaster at or at 503-674-6224.

I love this idea. It’s creative. It’s kind. And it’s therapeutic! I got a couple of rock painting kits for me and Lucy and I can report: Making a small token of encouragement for your neighbors is a sweet way to spend a little time. Cooper says the Hope Rocks goal is simple: “Just brighten the world a bit – even if it’s just a tiny little light.”

I love that sentiment. It’s one reason why I’m running for a seat on the city council, and it animates the very best of our community work right now. So many of us are just trying to make a tiny little light in the darkness.

I’ll do everything I can to promote Hope Rocks – and I want to thank Ginell Cooper, Kelly Nagle Jones, and all the members of the Fairview community engagement committee – Robert Cantrell, Kathy Kudrna, Chelsea Jones, Corinna McGuire, Gail Swanson, Mary Whitkopf, and Fairview City Councilor Keith Kudrna, the council liaison to the group. Special thanks to Devree for all her support of this program.

You rock, team.

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