Greg Grano and Sarah Sellman will, should you choose to accept it, send you on a mission around Syracuse: a mission to put a smile on a stranger’s face. American Bear Films and Guerrilla Goodness have partnered to put together Kindness Captured: A Day of Bravery and Kindness on Saturday, June 30. This is an event anyone can attend and be sent on missions of random kindness to strangers.
“We want to share the idea you can really brighten someone’s day,” said Grano, one of the founders of American Bear Films.
Sellman, the other founder, said they’re aiming to have somewhere in the realm of 30 teams of three people each, and she’s optimistic that enough people will show up to make a difference. In the next several days, each registered team will receive an email telling them where and when to pick up their “kindness kit,” in which they’ll find a “mission” involving some sort of friendly or open action toward a stranger. The day will begin at 10 a.m., when teams can go to the spots they’ve been assigned.
The mission cards might, for example, tell the participants to pick a flower and give it to a stranger, or it might tell the reader to write three letters, outlining his or her life’s story, and then slide the letters under three unknown doors. These cards sit in the large Ziploc-bagged Kindness Kits, along with any supplies the mission calls for and another envelope holding instructions for the area at which the reader should perform the act of kindness.
In addition to Syracuse, New York City, Dallas, Boston, Seattle and Richmond, Va., which is the home of Guerrilla Goodness, will all hold Kindness Captured events on June 30. Syracuse joins the ranks of these larger cities because Sellman and Grano recently moved here. Their journey to Syracuse proved interesting.
One night in 2009, Grano awoke suddenly and said, “We have to go to Bear, Colo.” While the couple discovered that, to their dismay, there was no Bear, Colo., they nonetheless decided to plunge into a coast-to-coast road trip during the summer of 2010, with the idea to visit all five towns in America named “Bear.” The pair made no plans for lodging anywhere along the route, instead choosing to rely on the kindness of strangers to put a roof over their heads each night.
When they made it to Grano’s family’s home in New Jersey, 61 days after they embarked from Washington state, they’d had a country-sized sampling of positive experiences and the video footage to prove it. They’re currently in the process of rolling this together into a documentary film titled American Bear: An Adventure in Kindness of Strangers.
“We spent the summer relying on other people, and we wanted to take what we learned from that and give it back,” Sellman said.
Already in Syracuse, Sellman and company held letter-writing campaigns in both February and May. The campaigns weren’t to a local federal representative, though; but to random strangers. Those events and the one coming up on June 30 have a simple goal: to lift people’s spirits and try to restore a little bit of everyone’s faith in humanity.
“It’s easy, sometimes, to assume negativity,” Grano noted. “We’re trying to make people more optimistic in people.”
To sign up for Kindness Captured, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.