Having always had an affinity for typographic affirmations, fellow UKer and artist, Heidi Burton, contributed to Underground Art School magazine in 2008. Ever since she’s been illustrating similar subject matter with a trademark wit and playful innocence that I’ve come to know with great fondness since Heidi opened her Etsy shop in July 2009.
When she was recently invited by Gretchin Anderson of the Undercover Kindness Blog to take part in Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 15-21), she jumped at the chance to be involved and was so enthused that she also wanted to help spread the word about this grassroots movement throughout Etsyland.
Today, as part of her ongoing journey with kindness and thoughtfulness as inspiration, Heidi shares tips and encouragement for all of us on ways to jump on board the feel-good bandwagon.
Heidi’s printable PDF sheet of ten business-sized cards, especially designed for this week, is available for free download from the Undercover Kindness blog. She says, “These can be handed out to friends, strangers, left in public places, and hidden in secret places — in an attempt to spread happiness. Sharing is caring!”
Photos from Heidi on Flickr
“So shines a good deed in a weary world.” – William Shakespeare
What are random acts of kindness?
The phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was first coined by peace activist Anne Herbert. Acts of kindness involve being proactively nice. They can be organised or spontaneous, large or small, anonymous or face-to-face. The point is to give selflessly and evoke happiness in others without wishing for anything in return.
The Kindness Offensive are a fantastic example of human beings who believe in giving and sharing. The collective from London has taken acts of kindness a step further, bringing together communities and encouraging others to join in with fun and inspiring activities. Their aim is to “demonstrate that kindness is more than just a nice ideal, it’s actually a viable way of existing in the real world.” This video shows more about their ethos and random acts of kindness on an industrial scale:
The Free Hugs Campaign is another great example of giving and sharing. Founder Juan Mann started a Free Hugs movement and seeks volunteers across the globe to offer free hugs to strangers. Quoting from his website, “In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.”
Free Hugs Campaign International France [via Juan Mann on Flickr]
Free Hugs Campaign International Australia [via Juan Mann on Flickr]
Other kindly people include Melissa Morris Ivone from the blog Operation Nice where you can discover lots of fantastic ideas about spreading kindness, and Amanda Oaks and Jenn Gibson at Kind Over Matter whose blog is dedicated to “kind acts, inspirational art and kind projects,” with a focus on the handmade community.
So, what can we do?
Random acts of kindness can be anything from smiling at a stranger, listening to someone, or giving a sincere compliment, to being a volunteer, making donations, or organising events. Operation Nice has a great list of reader suggestions for kind acts we can perform on a daily basis. Being lovely doesn’t cost anything other than a little spare time, and if it’s doing something you enjoy then it’s time well spent.
The handmade community is a fantastic place to encourage and share with others. I recommend reading this blog post about The Sneak Attack, the story of how Etsian Michael Phipps, a.k.a. phippsart, nurtured his idea for people to sneakily buy en masse from new Etsy shops via the Handmade Movement website. It’s even more enjoyable when kindness comes as a surprise!
Through Etsy we can encourage and support each other in the fora, we can promote each other through our blogs and social networks. We can endeavour to treat our customers kindly with the best service they are ever going to receive, and beautiful packages. We can go that step further and make someone’s day! We can also encourage kindness through our work, as many already do. It would be lovely to hear of the random acts of kindness the Etsy community have been on the receiving end of!
I will leave you with this quote from the Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Many thanks to Heidi for telling us about this wonderful movement.
Check out her picks in the Related Items.
We look forward to hearing about your big or small plans for Random Acts of Kindness Week!
Let us know in the comments section below.