Depending who you talk to, Vancouver’s got a reputation for having a bit of an attitude problem – a complex, even. We’re distracted and unfriendly – cold and cliquish at worst. And even though it’s expensive here and it rains all the damn time, according to a 2012 survey from The Vancouver Foundation the biggest problem in our community is loneliness – one in three people in Vancouver have found it hard to make friends here. If you didn’t grow up or go to school here, it’s hard to establish the close relationships people need to feel connected to their community.
For Raphaëlle Dumais, who came to Vancouver from Edmonton, this sense of unfriendliness was palpable.
“Every day I’d see people on the bus and everyone’s absorbed with their phones or plugged into headphones; I’d be walking the streets of Vancouver and found that no one would make eye contact.”
Inspired by Random Acts of Kindness and Charlie Todd, Raphaëlle, a local teacher, and communications expert Marek Yildizlar decided to create KindMob. With the help of Raphaëlle’s students from Kitsilano Secondary School the duo have been delivering random acts of kindness to the Kitsilano community since 2012. And yesterday, they took to Kits Beach with piñatas and a mission to make people smile.
KindMob is a project for 30 Grade 10 and 11 Leadership students; students are divided into groups and each is tasked with creating and carrying out a flash mob of kind gestures. These have included handwritten letters sent to teachers in appreciation for the work they have done, handmade holiday cards delivered anonymously to mailboxes in Kitsilano, and a sidewalk chalk art installation – check out their photos on Facebook, as they’re all pretty great!
While there’s no way to gauge the overall impact of KindMob on the community – students work quickly, and don’t ask questions – the response to the students gestures have been positive. For now, they’re limited to the Kitsilano area as they do their work primarily during class time, so they only have an hour. But there’s no reason KindMob can’t spread – in fact, Raphaëlle is heading to Europe and South America this summer, and is hoping to bring the spirit of KindMob – and the random acts of kindness – to the places she visits.
And the piñatas? They were a huge success. Filled with candy, paper cranes, inspirational quotes and uplifting “fortunes,” the piñatas inspired a sudden burst of fun and community interaction.
“Once the kids figured out what was going on, they all wanted to join in. There were kids swarming around to see what was in each piñata, and their parents – none of whom seemed to know each other – talking to each other as it happened.”
If Vancouver’s ever going to shed its No Fun City moniker, it’ll be up to the kids – and they’re making some great headway. For more information about KindMob, visit their Facebook page; for information on starting up a KindMob partner in your own city, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
nancy macdonald says
Sara Lanthier says
Grumble Girl says
That’s such a GREAT idea! Loneliness can be such a desperate, pervasive kind of feeling that can feel impossible to overcome – it chips away at the FUN of living a life, when one doesn’t have closeness with others. I hope this incentive spreads! Wonderful!!