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St. John's family’s artsy hobby sparks impassioned Twitter conversation

The Dawe family (from left) Alex, Bradley, Elizabeth and Kelli, left some more painted rocks at the Virginia River Trail in St. John’s on Friday. — Jasmine Burt/Special to The Telegram
The Dawe family (from left) Alex, Bradley, Elizabeth and Kelli, left some more painted rocks at the Virginia River Trail in St. John’s on Friday. — Jasmine Burt/Special to The Telegram - Contributed

Mom says she was disheartened by criticism in a letter to the editor

By Jasmine Burt

Special to The Telegram

When a family from east-end St. John’s sat down together and picked up paintbrushes to decorate some rocks for the Virginia River Trail, they never guessed it would cause such a commotion.

Kelli Dawe and her husband, Bradley Dawe, and their kids Elizabeth, 4, and Alex, 11, use painting as a family get-together.
Kelli said they were inspired to start painting rocks from a Facebook page called NL Rock Art a couple of years ago when the trend hadn’t quite taken off. She took her family to the beach and started collecting rocks to paint. The idea is to place the rocks in public places where they might bring cheer to someone’s day.
“Our intentions with this are just fun. … We are enjoying this as a family and enjoying each other’s company. It’s something we all enjoy doing,” she said.
They placed a collection of painted rocks on the Virginia River Trail recently, since they walk it many times a week, and now rock painting has become a family tradition.
“We have always tried to teach our kids about random acts of kindness,” Kelli said. “This activity kind of sits in well with that.”

The rocks were painted in bright colours, with cartoon characters, rainbows, polka dots and, in some cases, inspirational quotes like “You can move mountains.”

But when the rocks were written about by Telegram columnist Pam Frampton this week, who noted they seemed to delight the people who spotted them on the trail, not everyone agreed.

Robin Reid of St. John’s wrote a letter to the editor, headlined “Colour me not amused,” about the column, saying he was not a fan of the idea.

“So, if some annoying, cloying people take it upon themselves to interrupt my thoughts with their sappy messages, then I, too, have the right to put forward my own messages: ‘Trump for POTUS 2020,’” Reid wrote.
He also said he hoped the Virginia River Trail authority would ensure there are no more painted rocks allowed.
Kelli Dawe that when she read the letter, it was bit disheartening.
“I took it with a grain of salt; no matter what you do or don’t do, people will find something to complain about,” she said. “I truly didn’t expect that when we were hiding rocks that it would cause such an uproar.”
Reid’s letter set off a string of posts on Twitter, most of which praised the painted rock phenomenon and criticized the letter.
@Lisa_Lovelady tweeted: “My kids get all excited when they find one. I’ll take their lead on this topic.”
Lorna Yard posted: “Someone needs a hug. Or a hot fudge sundae. Or something.”

Kelli says she’s happy that some people are enjoying her family’s pastime.  
“This past weekend we hid rocks at Topsail Beach. We decided to sit in the van and look out at the water. We (saw) two little girls and a mom who had just found the rocks we had put down. The two little girls were so happy, just jumping up and down.”

jasmine.burt@thetelegram.com
Twitter: @JasmineBurtNL


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