gmhTODAY 29 gmhTODAY Jan March 2020 - Page 17

I t is a kick watching human behavior flourish—without any grand planning—seeing an idea become a healing movement. After the tragedy on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a feeling of shock and helplessness took over many. A few local community members decided to put their respective talents to work to deal with the shock and help rejuvenate the community. So, a simple idea became a huge healing moment for a lot of people. It all started on the first day of school in August. Brad Chaboya, an art teacher at Gilroy High School, brought 500 rocks to class, he talked about the shooting, about healing and about doing something. The students started painting rocks with hopeful-helpful messages and distributing them around town. Carol Peters, a former art teacher, helped out and took the project to Christopher High School. Soon several groups asked about doing some rocks. Jill Vanni stepped up, orga- nizing the groups, making sure they had supplies and rocks. Mike Sanchez got wind of the project and offered to set up a Facebook page, GilroyRocks. After the start at the high school, the project gained a lot of momentum, Carol, Brad, and the rest of the crew along with a few volunteers were organizing several rock paint parties a week. Other groups picked up the message and hosted paint parties on their own. Part of the plan was to paint a rock and leave it somewhere, hopping that others would find it and put it in a new spot. The Facebook page was inundated with posts from people who found a rock and passed it on. Some of the participants talked about a “painter’s high.” Painting and hiding the rock gave them an opportunity to express their feelings. It gave a sense of healing by doing something. For a while during August and September it seemed like there were GilroyRocks paint parties everywhere. There was a large turnout at the National Night Out downtown on October 1, 2019. Jill organized a paint party in the courtyard at the Piazza Building. Fifth Street Coffee organized another one. A group from the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church heard about the movement, connected with Gilroy Presbyterian and actually came down to Gilroy to paint, distribute and offer support. It is unknown for sure how many rocks have been painted and distributed but Brad Chaboya knows he had over 800 rocks to start with. Many of the rocks were donated by South County Rockery in Gilroy and U-Save Rockery in Morgan Hill. It will be interesting, a few years down the road, when a kid finds a painted rock and asks what this was all about about…”an idea that helped heal a community.” GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN “Painting and spreading rocks all over Gilroy as our artists’ vision of community connection and healing .To find a little bit of bright color, a word of encouragement, knowing we are here feeling the same thing.” From the GilroyRocks Facebook Page WINTER 2020 17