Grand Junction ROCKS: Look around, you never know when you might find a treasure right under
Christmas in July?
It seems that way to those in Grand Junction who are finding colorfully painted rocks tucked among the statues, tree nooks and gardens on Main Street this week.
The rocks were placed around town this past Monday by a local group called Grand Junction Rocks. Group members paint and plant the rocks with a simple goal: to bring joy into the lives of others.
“We have yet to meet anyone who’s gotten one of rocks who hasn’t said, ‘This makes me feel good,’” said Kathy Morgan, a retired educator who started the group in November 2016. She and her friends do a “rock drop” around town about once a month. Those who find the rocks are encouraged to keep them, pass them on to a friend or re-hide them.
Grand Junction resident Tammy Jo Summers found several rocks on Monday after giving a friend a ride to work downtown. Summers called her kids out to Main Street to help search for the rocks, and the family found 12 overall.
“It was like an Easter egg hunt,” she said. Summers has only lived in Grand Junction for a couple of years, and she found the rocks reminiscent of Main Street activities from the golden past, giving her a new sense of community and welcoming in the city.
“It’s been so inspiring,” she said.
So far, more than 250 people have joined Grand Junction Rocks on Facebook, many of whom have also posted selfies on the group page with their found rocks—some featuring hearts or mountain scenes, geometric patterns, suns and moons, wolves or snowflakes.
Morgan and about 15 to 20 friends try to gather two or three times a month, on Sundays, to paint rocks. Most of the rocks they paint they’ve collected outside from fields or slopes or riversides and are small, easily fitting within the palm of your hand.
The group paints them with a variety of materials—water color pencils, acrylic paint or paint pens or chalk paint—and seals the paint with a durable, environmentally safe polyurethane coat. On the bottom of each rock, Grand Junction Rocks pastes in a small message that’s always changing.
The message on the rocks Morgan and her cohort distributed Monday was “believe,” aimed at environmental protection. “We believe in a clean, green Earth,” said one rock. But other themes have been holiday-motivated, like a Christmas-time “rock drop” featuring the words joy, peace and love.
“It’s mostly just whatever strikes our fancy,” Morgan said of the themes, adding they’re meant to be positive and community-centered.
As for the question, why rocks?
“Why not?” said Morgan, adding they’re free and abundant.
Monday’s rock drop was intended as part of International Drop a Rock Day, which occurs yearly on July 3. The global Facebook group has nearly 8,000 members, and the theme is always peace. But Facebook isn’t where Morgan got her idea to start dropping rocks in Grand Junction.
She got the idea on Whidbey Island, Washington, after a young woman in a cafe there approached Morgan, complimented the sound of her voice and gave her a painted rock. Morgan was so moved, she learned all about Whidbey Island’s rock-dropping tradition and brought it back to her home town.
Morgan and her companions plan to paint and drop rocks in Grand Junction for decades to come. So when you’re out and about this weekend or next weekend or the weekend after that—Morgan is planning her next drop for early August—keep your eyes open for brightly painted rocks.
And beware, the rocks tend to be snatched up as quickly as rare gemstones.
“We dropped 50 or 60 rocks Monday,” Morgan said, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was not one left.”