The Murray Rocks Movement: Painted pebbles spark flame of unity in Murray

Story by Emily Williams, Features Editor

“It’s the little things in life.”

But what does this small phrase mean for each, individual person? For some, their ‘little thing’ could easily be the bliss felt during an evening bike ride while the sun sets in the distance, or a dog enthusiastically greeting you as you walk through the door after a long day at work. Others may count their ‘little thing’ as the comfort of hearing their mother’s soothing voice on the phone when they are going through a crisis, whether it be a broken heart or a broken thumb.

Whatever it may be, this is a phrase that some might consider overused and repetitive in today’s society. For Murray citizens, however, this phrase has taken on a newfound meaning and manifestation through a series of little, painted rocks hidden all over the city of Murray.

Shannon Contri, citizen of Murray and owner of Salon X in Murray, was one of the visionaries for the Murray Rocks movement. Contri said it all started when she saw a post shared on Facebook by a friend from Florida about painting rocks and asked her what the movement was all about.

“When I asked what they were doing, they said they were painting and placing rocks to spread kindness and joy,” Contri said. “So I came to work and told my coworker Laken about it. She immediately set up the Facebook page, I went and got rocks, and we started painting that day. ”

Laken Vance, citizen of Murray and stylist at Salon X in Murray, was also a visionary who worked with Contri to start the Murray Rocks movement. She said after starting the process of painting rocks and placing them strategically around Murray in November 2016, there wasn’t much activity or feedback at first. It wasn’t until school let out for the summer that things really began to pick up.

“Once people started finding rocks and joining in with it, I just felt so honored to be a part of something that’s so big now in Murray,” Vance said. “It all started with me and Shannon and now everybody is looking for rocks. Basically, if you’ve not heard about Murray Rocks, I feel like you might live under a rock.”

Contri said she believes the Murray Rocks movement has been effective in getting people out and about, exercising as a family, and has brought people together by spreading joy.

For some citizens of Murray, the rocks go much deeper than just a simple pick-me-up.

Amanda Pitman, citizen of Murray and participant in the Murray Rocks movement, said the little bits of encouragement shined a light during a time when she needed it most.

Pitman said after having received unsettling news about a loved one, she found two rocks outside of her home and again within the hour at a McDonald’s in town. She said she shed tears of joy and was overwhelmed with hope upon finding these rocks, so she paid for the order of the car behind her at McDonald’s hoping to make someone feel as lucky as she felt.

“I think that’s what Murray Rocks is all about,” Pitman said. “It’s an unexpected gift from a stranger that you find seemingly when you need it most.”

Vance said these rocks are hidden all over Murray within the city limits, but she thinks the fun of it is when you simply stumble upon them.

“To see how a simple rock can brighten someone’s day is probably my favorite part,” Contri said.