More stepping up

By Reade Brower | Sep 12, 2019

Last week writing about the “love bandit” was lighthearted; the hoped-for response was to find out more about the “why.” No one came forward with any helpful intell, but a comment disagreeing with my take was thought-provoking because it dealt with the concept of following rules — something difficult for an entrepreneur and someone not fitting into a mold.

The idea of “principles over rules” comes into play when considering these “peace hearts” and the notion of whether they are graffiti or a form of public art.

The author of the letter took issue with the frequency and felt they defaced public walkways and private property, without permission. Technically speaking, graffiti, by its definition ("words or pictures scribbled, scratched or sprayed illicitly in a public place") is considered bad. In the definition, there is no inclusion of “intent” or any conclusion to whether chalk constitutes “illicit” since it easily washes away.

Understanding we are a society of rules, one should be respectful and thoughtful in their decisions to chalk the hearts or to opine about their altruism.

Perhaps that’s why the “love bandit” remains cloaked; running afoul of the law could have consequences with his/her employer. As I wrote my reader, “this is chalk; should we enforce this rule with children playing hopscotch on the newly paved roads in the South End where I regularly run” — do we stop that?

The 5K races (most are for charities) use spray paint for starting lines, mile markers, and direction arrows; they wear away in time — but should we end that practice, too?

Spontaneous love and a commonsense definition of graffiti (or is this art?), or strict compliance with the law — what do you think?

Perhaps society might be best-served tackling immigration and gun violence, while looking the other way when it comes to the “love bandit.”


The first day of school had a couple of feel-good moments.

First, on the local scene, our local nonprofit, OneCommunityManyVoices (OCMV), received a touching thank you letter from Stephanie Primm, executive director at Hospitality House in Rockland, for our help in back-to-school shopping for its school-bound residents.

This is shared for two reasons: First, giving someone a “hand-up” is about dignity and helping neighbors fit in, no matter what their challenge. Inclusion is a powerful ingredient in shaping a positive life. On the other hand, shame can be an equally powerful inhibitor.

Stephanie wrote:

“Yesterday afternoon I experienced the photographs and the recap of the life-changing gift you gave to 13 children in our shelter — your prioritization of the funds to allow our staff to take every single kiddo shopping for their school clothes and needs leading up to yesterday — the first day of school — was incredible and life-changing for every single kiddo. We have photos and will send along to you....

"What is easy to forget is how very life-changing these gifts are. Most of these kiddos went to school yesterday with a new confidence — holding their heads a little bit higher — a feeling I am sure they might never have felt — for instead of going to school in ratty old, perhaps torn and too small or big clothing, and with a serious lack of adequate supplies, they went to school after having shopped — just for them — with our team. They then came 'home' to the shelter and tried on their new stuff, and were so happy and proud. They will remember this forever.

"Kindness of others is possible, hope is possible, feeling good about oneself is possible — even if you've never experienced that feeling before. This is what our program is centered on — helping to flip that switch inside to 'Hey, I have hope, I WANT TO try.'

"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and from the bottom of our new socks, thanks to you. Thank you for being part of the fabric of this life-changing work.”

And, on the national front, a moving moment occurred when, spying second-grader Conner Crites, an 8-year-old with autism, in the corner crying, his classmate Christian Moore sprang into action.

April Crites, Conner’s Wichita, Kansas mom, was quoted in The Washington Post saying, “Instead of overlooking him (Conner) like most kids would have, Christian reached over, grabbed his hand and made my son’s day better.”

The Facebook photo of a black and a white hand, intertwined, went viral.

But, the act of kindness didn’t stop there. Their relationship continues at lunchtime, with play dates, and an invite for a sleep-over.

April Crites summed it up: “Everybody has a choice to help or ignore someone in need. You could say something nice, hand someone a tissue who’s crying, and make their day better.”

With the school year starting, now is the time to encourage our students to make a difference; it’s time for adults to lead the way with their actions and not just words.


“The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself.” — Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer, orator (1833-1899)

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 17, 2019 16:19

There is so much opportunity with a bit of empathy and compassion and the response is awesome!   I agree with Valli:

"it is our connection with our community which brings us joy."

Was looking today at my personal circle of influence; which certainly includes Reade and Valli. Thankful to live in a loving community where hearts on our walkways lighten our steps instead of giving us a "Tsk, tsk."  It's party time and everyone is welcome!!



Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Sep 12, 2019 07:56

Lovely Reade, thank you. I am listening to "The Book of Joy" by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which essentially says the same. We are healed and more whole when we reach out to others, it is our connection with our community which brings us joy.

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