Feel-good mes­sages bloom amid out­break

Sim­ple, in­spi­ra­tional words on side­walks, walls brighten peo­ple’s days

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Canada & World - DAN SEWELL

CINCINNATI—In­spi­ra­tion is con­ta­gious, too.

The coro­n­avirus pan­demic has brought an out­pour­ing of mes­sages from stranger to stranger — in win­dows, on front doors, across walls, and coloured onto drive­ways and side­walks.

Some mes­sages of­fer en­cour­age­ment: “Strong To­gether.” “Al­ways Look at the Bright Side of Life.”

Oth­ers are spir­i­tual: “Have Faith.” “Je­sus Loves You Al­ways.”

Some of­fer hu­mour: “United We Stand — 6 Feet Apart.” “Send Toi­let Pa­per!”

And there are rain­bows. So many rain­bows.

In Cov­ing­ton, Ky., 16-year-old twins Mal­lory and Kelly Glynn were toy­ing around with coloured chalk on their drive­way, wait­ing for an idea.

“I saw all the chalk art peo­ple were cre­at­ing all over so­cial media and wanted to give it a shot, but wasn’t sure what to draw,” Mal­lory said by text mes­sage. She was check­ing In­sta­gram and saw a chalk mes­sage on the page of Al­lie Clifton, who played bas­ket­ball at Univer­sity of Toledo and is a TV sports­caster in Los An­ge­les. It said: “April Dis­tance Brings May Ex­is­tence.”

Mal­lory drew a map of Ken­tucky with that mes­sage be­low it, fol­lowed by hash­tags: “TeamKy” and “To­geth­erKY.” Soon, peo­ple were stop­ping to snap pho­tos of it to share with their friends. Neigh­bours smiled.

“I think it bright­ened their day just a lit­tle bit,” Mal­lory said.

In Home­wood, Ala., pro­fes­sional sign painter Shawn Fitzwa­ter wanted to use his tal­ents to lift spir­its, and spent 10 hours cov­er­ing a build­ing wall with “We Are All In This To­gether.”

Peo­ple were soon park­ing across the street from the sign to take pho­tos and post them on so­cial media, and an ap­parel com­pany owned by friends put Fitzwa­ter’s mes­sage on a Tshirt. Shirts were sold to raise money for BHM­cares, a startup non-profit group that’s as­sist­ing health-care work­ers by pro­vid­ing them with meals pur­chased from strug­gling lo­cal restau­rants.

“It’s kind of turned into some­thing big­ger than I ever ex­pected,” he said.

The mayor of Day­ton, Ohio, saw count­less Day­tonStrong mes­sages dur­ing a tur­bu­lent 2019 in which the city en­dured a tense Ku Klux Klan rally, dev­as­tat­ing tor­na­does, a mass shoot­ing in which 10 peo­ple died and the fa­tal shoot­ing of a po­lice de­tec­tive.

Nan Wha­ley said the slo­gans “Day­ton United Against Hate” and “Day­tonStrong” were more planned and or­ga­nized than the per­son­al­ized mes­sages she’s seen that seem to be sprout­ing nearly spon­ta­neously, such as “Hope Will Arise” in chalk and a win­dow rain­bow with “God Is In Con­trol.”

“These are deeper, reach­ing out for con­nec­tiv­ity,” Wha­ley said.


A chalk mes­sage and rain­bow dec­o­rate a drive­way out­side a home in Bloom­ing­ton, Minn.

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