'Kindness Rocks' paints new path of awareness for Waccamaw RiverkeeperAugust 28, 2017 6:46pm

Aug. 27--Football season is not the only thing rocking to kick off for autumn. The public's invited to help jump start the Winyah Rivers Foundation's Waccamaw Riverkeeper "Cleanup Our Local Waterways Project," 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, with a sprucing up of Conway Riverwalk Park and a "Kindness Rocks" Painting Party, all at the end of Elm Street, downtown in the seat of Horry County.

April O'Leary, the Riverkeeper program officer, recounted the colorful start to tis "Kindness Rocks" initiative this summer, for which painted messages on coated stones "have been positive and inspiring," all in a special way "to spread kindness, and encourage people to decorate their rocks with that in mind. "

The Riverkeeper, based at the Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, also will have its third annual "Ride the Tide" celebration, on Sept. 16, departing 10-11 a.m. for a 4-mile float on the Waccamaw River from Litchfield Plantation Marina to Hagley Landing in Pawleys Island. Registration opens at 9 a.m. on site, or pay in advance at www.givingitforwardtogether.com. Bring a non-motorized vehicle such as a kayak, inner tube, or canoe, or build your own raft. Either way, entry is $40 ages 16 and older, $25 ages 8-15, and rent a tube for an extra $10 and $5, respectively. Everyone must wear a life jacket, too. Afterward, join all-you-can-eat Lowcountry boil, at 3 p.m., for $20 for pre-registered float participants, otherwise $25. More details at 843-349-4007 or www.winyahrivers.org.

Q: With the Waccamaw Riverkeeper's adoption of Conway Riverwalk Park, and the debut Kindness Rocks Painting Party there on July 15, how will the cleanup kickoff and rock painting party on Sept. 2 feed off that positivity with a big jump forward into fall for awareness of treasuring and preserving our natural surroundings?

A: The event Sept. 2 at the Conway Riverwalk is an opportunity to introduce more community members to the Kindness Rocks Project. When volunteers invest time in cleaning up an area, they gain a new awareness of their surroundings and appreciation for the beauty of our natural spaces. By introducing Kindness Rocks, we hope to keep that momentum and encourage community members to continue to visit, either to drop off their own rocks, or to search for others.

Q: For everyone attending on Sept. 2, will supplies for rock painting be provided, or is there anything else that participants should bring?

A: Supplies for rock painting will be provided, but participants are encouraged to decorate rocks at home prior to the event and bring them along to place in the park. We will have the rocks spray painted and ready for your decoration.

Q: For folks decking out their rocks at home any other time, with the homework that goes into preparing a rock, after finding one that's 3 to 5 inches and smooth -- using nontoxic paint to spray it, decorating it with with oil-based Sharpie paint pens, adding the words #THEKINDNESSROCKSPROJECT and #KRWR (Kindness Rocks on the Waccamaw River) to the back of the rock, and applying a nontoxic, clear sealant -- how long does that whole preparation process take?

A: The entire preparation process for Kindness Rocks can take several hours. Most of that time is waiting for the initial coat spray paint and final coat of sealant to dry. These steps are important to ensure the longevity of your art. The initial coat of spray paint helps to prepare the rock and make a nice surface for decorating with the markers. The final coat will help seal your art for many more people to appreciate.

Q: What other area landings besides Conway Riverwalk Park are rock artists encouraged to place their creations, and look for others' expressions?

A: We welcome everyone to place their rocks where they appreciate beauty in the natural world. Public landings throughout the county as well as parks are good places to place your rocks. However, state and federal parks have a "Leave No Trace" policy, so the project is not allowed in these places. Please respect the rules and regulations wherever you might want to leave your Kindness Rocks.

Q: How many other local cleanups have taken place across the area this year?

A: From January through May, our volunteers have donated 3,444 hours to cleanup our local waterways, we have had 68 cleanups, with 861 volunteers, and collected 43,500 pounds of trash and pollution from the Waccamaw, Lumber and Pee Dee rivers, and the Intracoastal Waterway and surrounding marshes, wetlands, swamps, beaches and riverbanks. We hope to break this record this fall, and our goal is to have 70 cleanups.

Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.


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