Photo of Brenda Swanson by Moira Blazi, The Montanian.


The origin of Libby’s painted rocks

By Moira Blazi


Many stories abound about the origin of the ‘paint a rock, post a picture and then hide the rock again,’ movement.

Folks in California claim they started it, folks in Georgia and Cape Cod claim they started it, basically, everyone claims to have started it. One thing we know for sure, however, is, folks are doing it nearly everywhere.

Here in Libby, this colorful “pay it forward” activity is going strong. The Facebook page, Libby rocks, is chocked full of colorful and heartwarming photos of these found treasures. But, because half the fun is the clandestine hiding, the many folks doing this prefer to remain somewhat anonymous. One artist, who has created and gifted many beautiful pieces of art put it this way; “This is my therapy, and someone else’s joy.”

This artist, who we will call Roz (not her real name) recalled seeing painted rocks in Spokane and being asked to paint some by a friend which she did. Then, “when I moved  back to Montana, , some folks told me they were going rock hunting,” and I thought they were just trying to pull my leg, like Montanans sometimes like to do with out-of-state, visiting city folk. I thought it was like snipe hunting or something, but it turns out we really did go out hunting rocks to paint,” she recalled with a laugh.

Roz mostly adheres to the unspoken rock-painters code of conduct, which is to hide rocks in public places, mostly on public property, avoiding places like national parks and wilderness areas. Everyone applies some type of sealant over the paint or marker, and they try to avoid gluing any googly eyes or other objects which could choke or poison wildlife. Roz uses  UV protected, waterproof resin to protect her artwork and “….occasionally I may add a couple of rhinestones, depending where the rock is, cause sometimes you just need a little bling to catch the eye.” She added with a laugh.

Although a big part of the joy of doing this is the spontaneous and anonymous nature of it, in order for rock-messengers to be able to appreciate each other’s contributions, there has to be some kind of public forum, in this case the ubiquitous Facebook.

Local teacher, Brenda Swanson, stepped up to the task of administering a page. “I first encountered this painted rock thing in Anacortes, one of the San Juan Islands,” she recalled for The Montanian. “My daughter, Kjersten, lives there and when we went to visit, and we painted some rocks. My grandson would just take them and drop them down on the beach. My daughter told me I should start this in Libby, and I discovered that there was a local Facebook page called Fidalgo Island Rocks, and that is loosely what I based our Libby page on. We got the page up in October of 2016, right now we have 12 new member requests, mostly form out of state.” Swanson said.

She offers guidelines and advice on how and where to hide rocks, and she reminds page visitors of the non-commercial nature of this activity. “There have been a few people who have tried to use the page to sell their rock-related art, I take down these posts,” she mentioned.

“One of the best things about this is that it gets people outside, with their kids, providing exercise and family time,” said Roz.” When you put “you matter” on a rock, you just never know how it will affect the person who finds it.”

20th Annual Veteran Stand Down

By Dawn Manchester


The Northwest Montana Veteran’s Stand Down event offers veterans free services as well as information about veteran and community resources.

Goods and services such as boxed and canned foods, haircuts, surplus military clothing, a hot, meal, and flu shots will be available at the upcoming Stand Down Event.

This 20th annual Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down will be held at Asa Wood Elementary School on Oct. 5 and 6. Services will be provided from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6

Organizations that provide services such as transportation, energy, ID cards, housing services, banking, legal services, suicide prevention, and insurance will also be available to veterans during the Stand Down event.

U.S. senator representatives, physical health providers, a service officer for the VA Clinic and Flathead Spay and Neuter will be onsite as well.

A clothing giveaway will also be open to the public during the Stand Down, and it will be located in the parking lot.

For more information call Cinnamon Davis-Hall, community outreach specialist, at 756-7304 or email nwmtveteransfoodpantrystandown@gmail.com.