When one hears the word kindness, they often think of a thoughtful word or gesture, perhaps an organized service project or even shoveling an elderly neighbor’s walk. The newly-established Provo Kindness Initiative wants us all to expand our definition of kindness beyond these single acts and into a culture of kindness that helps us all connect better as neighbors, friends and even strangers.
Provo Kindness launched today with their new website, provokindness.org and a social presence on both Facebook and Instagram. The timing of the Provo Kindness initiative could not be more important as studies report increasing depression rates with one in three adults in the U.S. reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic. In comparison, from January to June 2019, more than one in ten (11%) adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder.
Kindness matters now more than ever. We dedicated Fire Station 22 on September 11 with a Patriot Day remembrance for those we lost. During that tribute I was reminded of the unity we felt as a nation after that horrible day and saddened in contrast by the national and local division we feel today. What we learned then and can replicate now is that kindness has the power to unite communities.
The idea is to build community through stories. We want to share stories of a wide variety of Provo residents to help the community understand that we have more in common with one another than the perceived labels that we allow to divide us. We hope to overcome stereotypes and labels and help everyone recognize that we're all on the same team.
By focusing on the overwhelming good in our community, we are hopeful it becomes an online refuge for those of us who need a shot of positivity from time to time. And honestly, who doesn’t during this uncertain and contentious time.
We will accomplish our mission statement by creating community conversations about kindness and the many topics that fall under the “kindness umbrella.” These conversations will happen online and hopefully in people’s homes as they learn more about Provo Kindness through their regular social media posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, on their website, and through information in city communications.
We will also look for opportunities to hold in-person small group conversations. As our reach expands, we hope to be able to survey our community and find other ways to assess the needs in our community. We will then plan specific activities to improve kindness in those areas.
The culture of kindness we hope to foster will be one we all build together with our shared stories and with our shared commitment to do our part to bring kindness back into our city discussions, into our neighborhoods and in our conversations. That’s a win-win cause we can all get behind.