On Thursday May 11, 2017 a noose was found hanging in the courtyard of Crofton Middle School. The community was shocked, angry, and fearful. Personally, I was saddened as I know that such an act does not represent the Crofton I know. I know Crofton to be an accepting, kind, welcoming, and diverse community. And I know with certainty that we are a better community because of our diversity! That anyone would attempt to say otherwise infuriated me and I knew that we had to counter this hateful message in some way.
Having started Crofton is Kind in November I already had a group of people I could quickly reach out to. I didn’t have any idea of how to respond, but I knew we had to, and I posted my thoughts on our Facebook page. Anytime an act of hate occurs the challenge is to reject the act, while not amplifying the hate. I knew we needed to amplify KINDNESS, to show the students of Crofton Middle School and the Crofton community that there is no place for hate here, and that kindness and love will always win. But, how?
And then, a member of Crofton is Kind, Sherlin Larson, reached out to me and said, “What if a bunch of us came over on Sunday evening and chalk art-ed the sidewalks? All the side walks. All pavement. With positivity, challenges for kindness, and images of love hope and peace?” And that my friends, is how “Chalk the Walk” was born.
I then reached out to a contact at the school (thanks, Lauren Sales!) to get permission from the principal, Lauren got back to me early Friday morning with the go ahead, and I started getting the word out immediately.
With the help of another Crofton is Kind member, Karla Mandell, who has experience in the PR field, we drafted a press release and reached out to every media outlet in the area. I sent a specific message to those outlets that had already covered the noose incident and explained that if they’re going to cover the negative, then the have a responsibility to cover the positive. And cover it they did! Thank you to WJZ 13, Fox 5 (Washington), WBAL, WJLA, NBC4 (Washington), WTOP (Radio), and the Capital Gazette who all came out to the event. (Links to all stories can be found in our “In The News” section).
But it wasn’t just the media who came out. When Sherlin had suggested a “bunch of us” chalk the walk, I don’t think she was expecting 300 parents, children, grandparents, teachers, administrators, elected officials, and community members, but that’s who came. People in Crofton, and from the surrounding area came out to show that ALL people are welcome here. And so, as a result, in less than 1 hour over 100 yards of sidewalk was chalked with gorgeous, positive, inspirational messages that celebrated diversity, love, and the kind spirit of Crofton.
I know a lot of people were worried that we would have a poor showing because it was Mother’s Day. But, quite the opposite occurred. So many mother’s embraced this event and chose to celebrate Mother’s Day with their families by spreading kindness and denouncing hate. On the Anne Arundel County Public Schools Facebook page one mother, Nicole Vandoren said, ” I think I can speak for most of the mothers in attendance, myself included, we did not view this event as giving up part of our Mother’s Day. Rather it was an opportunity to teach our children the best way to react to such a hateful act.” I will be forever grateful that so many mothers viewed this event in this way.
Having played some small part in rallying the community together to say loud and clear “Your hate will not be tolerated here. Love will be louder, kindness will be stronger, and ALL are welcome here!!” was an honor and a privilege. The fact that Crofton Is Kind now has over 380 members is humbling and inspiring.
As the founder of Crofton Is Kind I want to personally thank every single one of you that supported this event by attending, by spreading the word, or by donating chalk or food (thank you to the Dunkin Donuts in Staples Corner for the donuts). This event was bigger than me and Sherlin. It was bigger than Crofton Is Kind, it was about a community coming together in a positive way to do something spectacular. I would like to especially thank Ms. Nuria Williams, Principal of Crofton Middle for being an exceptional leader for this community. Principal Williams leads with transparency, love, and enthusiasm for her students, school, and community, and we are grateful she was such a strong supporter of this event.
So, Crofton, thank you for making my Mother’s Day the best yet! I look forward to continuing to spread kindness with you in new and creative ways! Please reach out anytime with suggestions for events or collaboration: CroftonIsKind@gmail.com.
And never forget, love always wins!