Minnesota Nice. You hear about it all the time, but it's not always apparent. Elk River has brought it back.
After the Elk River City Council declaired February the Month of Kindness, Mayor Stephanie Klinzing challenged residents to commit 1,000 "random acts of kindness." And the Elk River MN resdients didn't hold back. All month long, residents did kindly deeds, then recorded them either on post cards sent to the city or posted them online at www.loveelkriver.org.
"We are the kindest city in Minnesota," Klinzing declared this week, as she stood beside a wooden thermometer in Rivers Edge Park that registered the city's progress -- 1,300 acts of kindness as of Thursday.
The project was started due to Elk River's size. The city has grown so big, with a population of about 24,000, that residents worried it was losing its close-knit, small-town feel. Then Mayor Klinzing saw a YouTube video about a restaurant in Philadelphia where people kept paying for other diners' meals.
"I got the sense that if we did a similar thing through the entire city, something would change. It would be kind of a climate change. That basically is what happened."
Some of the kind acts included:
- "A friend helped me with my homework and helped me to feel smart."
- "I paid for the person behind me's fare on the commuter rail."
- "I volunteered at a local food shelf."
- "Cleaned a very dirty and smelly microwave out for others."
- "My neighbors ... help me to remain in my house. They are always doing things ... that I just cannot do by myself. Their help is beyond question my lifeline to keep me going. Thanks"
- "My dog, Sarah, & I visited a dementia floor at a nursing home. The residents seemed to be comforted by petting her."
- "I thought this kindness kick was sort of stupid when I first heard about it. But then, when I smiled at this person who looked to be having a really bad day and asked how they were doing ... their reaction made it so worthwhile. That little thing that I did felt so good when they smiled back at me and thanked me for smiling at them and asking about their day."
Now, Elk River Mayor Klinzing has issued a friendly dare:
"I challenge other cities to prove us wrong. If you [accept the challenge], we will show you how kind we are. We will come help you put together a kindness campaign so you can prove you are kinder than we are."
So far, Anoka, Belle Plaine and Clearwater have expressed interest. Mayor Klinzing already has plans to meet with city leaders there.
Want help with your own kindness project? Visit spreadkindness.org to find out more.