Rocks are currently being scattered throughout the city with the intent of being found. These hand-painted rocks are a part of the group, Tacoma Rocks!. When someone finds a rock, they choose to either keep or re-hide the rock, group members often post photos during this process. Paintings on rocks vary from cartoon figures to small murals. Brooke Speiser is the creator of the group which has over 2,700 members on Facebook and continues to grow.
The back of the rock often has a message about their Facebook page or a personalized note to the reader. People take pictures of their finished art so group members can start searching for new rocks around Tacoma. The stones can be hidden in trees, on benches or even left on stairs. Rocks are hidden all over Tacoma — they have even started showing up at UWT.
Vallie Ann Morrison, an active member of the group and its Facebook page, found Tacoma Rocks! in August. “My three-year-old ASD daughter found a rock in a flower bed by the spray park at Ruston Way in August, it had #Tacomarocks Facebook on the back,” Morrison said. She didn’t expect the impact the group would have on her and her family. “I’ve watched my youngest daughter go from refusing to walk in public, to being more willing to walk so she can look for ‘happy rocks’ as she calls them.” When asked about the rock finding process, Morrison said, “We normally stumble upon them, but there always seems to be a lot along the walkway of Ruston Way.”
People also paint shells and hide them around Ruston Way, and anywhere else they fit. Some find the stones at random, while others seek them out. Anyone can start painting and sharing. After painting rocks, a sealant is often applied, this helps the paint job last through the rainy weather.
The group’s goal is to get community members engaged in something fun and get them painting. People also use the rocks to spread positivity around the community. “It’s just such a happy place where people are actively thinking about making others happy,” Morrison said. The Facebook page is known to be a space with little to no negativity.
Since rocks are mostly hidden outside, this allows community members to take a souvenir from a walk or a day at the park. People also use the rocks as a canvas to share their message of hope. Getting involved in this group is as easy as looking around while walking to class. With so much buzz from the community, Tacoma Rocks! doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.