Hello….. I’m Sarah Fox, a member of Keynsham Action Networkand I’d like to talk to you about our new project the Keynsham KindnessCampaign.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is wasted” Aesop
Why do we need this project?
Loneliness and disconnectedness are rife in today’s societyand lead to misery, despair, and a wide range of physical and mental ailments.Literally dis-ease! Some of this is caused by a culture of media-driven fearand mistrust which only serves to heighten a sense of alienation.
Technology, like fire, is a useful tool but can easily takeover and become harmful and we’re all aware that people tend to be ‘plugged in’to their gadgets rather than interacting in a face to face way. We have losttouch with each other.
All this has generated a pervasive atmosphere of negativity.We want to turn this around and counter it with a wave of positivity
Our aim is to create a ‘CULTURE OF KINDNESS’ starting withinour town but radiating out from it like a beacon of hope.
The simplest way to achieve this is by using empathy andcompassion to generate acts of kindness.
Whist there is an element of ‘compassion fatigue’ withrecent events around charitable organisations and a degree of public mistrust,and people are also time poor, small acts of kindness are free, spontaneous andeasy to take part in.
Aside from helping other people, we want to encourageeveryone to get involved regardless of what matters to them, so kindness canmean:
• Kindnessto self: often very hard for people to do!
• Kindnessto loved ones: expressing appreciation, running a hot bath, doing a choreunasked, writing a letter or email to someone or phoning them
• Kindnessto colleagues: making a cup of coffee, praising work etc.
• Kindnessto strangers : open a door, let someone out in traffic
• Kindnessto the community : helping in a local group, shopping in local shops, donatingitems to charity shops etc.
• Kindnessto animals: your own pets (rehome a cat/dog), wildlife (feed the garden birds,or the ducks at the pond), support RSPB, RSPCA etc.
• Kindnessto the environment: picking up litter, buying sustainably sourced productsetc., planting wildflowers
All these small deeds not only help the people on thereceiving end, but also those giving the kindness, and this helps to connectpeople with each other and with the world.
Kindness cuts across age groups, social status etc. andhelps us to banish the tendency to pigeon- hole people and have an ‘us andthem’ attitude which alienates people and makes for a sense of personal andcommunity wide emptiness. As such, kindness connects and unites us all in ourcommon humanity.
What will the project look like?
Firstly, we want to start promoting the idea via our socialmedia and word of mouth. We will also go on local radio and use local press toadvertise the campaign.
In this way we want to create a groundswell of interest in‘Kind Keynsham’ almost as a brand . This will speak to one of the issues localpeople have mentioned to us, which is a sense of loss of identity within thetown, due to recent changes in the high street and all the new estates beingbuilt.
Using a similar approach to Glasgow’s hugely successfulrebranding campaign ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ and ideas such as the Metro’s#GoodDeed in 2015, we want to capture everyone’s attention and fire theirimagination.
We want to make our town into Kind Keynsham, the kind ofplace to be. Our logo (currently in design) will be yellow (a cheerful brightcolour) and probably feature open hands, to suggest openness, friendliness,helping hands and the text KIND KEYNSHAM. Our strapline will be along the lines“Kindness Connecting Keynsham.”
Then we want to hold a launch event on Monday 24th Aprilwhen we will invite 50 local representatives of various organisations, from theTown Council to voluntary groups, to come along and become our KindnessAmbassadors.
The first half of the afternoon will feature a special videoby author Leon Logothetis (Kindness Diaries) as well as videos of random actsof kindness and narratives about loneliness. We will also have break out groupsfor interactive drama, compassion circles etc.
Each Ambassador will be given a Kindness Kit containingitems such as a Keynsham Kindness wristband, blue and yellow post it notes,pansy seeds, bird food etc.
The second half of the afternoon we will issue an openinvitation to anyone who wants to come along and we hope the energy and ideasgenerated in the first part of the event will spread to others. Mya-Rose Craig(Birdgirl) will also be coming along which we hope will help to encourage youngpeople to be there.
From that initial event we hope to generate a wave ofkindness which our Kindness Ambassadors can help to send out into the town andfurther afield. We hope that our signature colour, yellow, inspired by yellowfriendship benches in Canada, the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission #happytochat,and lots of iconic yellow images, will become a prompt for people to take part.Depending on funds, we hope to have areas with yellow cushions in shops, coffeeshops etc. where people can sit and chat, and ‘pop-up’ Kindness Couches whichcould be moved from place to place e.g. library, GP surgeries etc. Keynsham inBloom plan to have lots of yellow flowers across the town and their bike trailto feature yellow strongly. Window decals in shops will let people know whereto find kind places and kind faces.
We hope our Keynsham Kindness wristbands will be sent allover the world. We will also set up an interactive online map where people canuse the hashtag to enter something they have done (or seen), along with picturesor videos. Maybe we can get people to take selfies with their wristbands inplaces abroad. This will generatenarratives (community reporting) that we can share on social media and also inprinted newsletters etc., and a Keynsham Kindness Column similar to the GoodDeed Feed of the Metro. We hope to get ahashtag such as #kindness_connects trending which would really put Keynsham onthe map!
We also hope this simple but powerful idea will generatelots more events, and be part of events such as the Festival of Nature andKeynsham Music Festival.
In effect, this idea is infinitely scaleable, as onebusinesswoman said to me. She may have meant in business terms (merchandiseetc.) but we feel that the social value this project brings is also limitless.
As Leon Logothetis comments in the introduction to hisKindness Diaries episodes: “Human beings can literally manufacture hope fromacts, even the simplest acts, of kindness”