It’s hard to deny that 2020 has gotten off to a rocky start, but tough times have brought out the best in some communities, inspiring towns, individuals and small businesses to get creative for the greater good. Here are three of these stories from the past week.
A simple phrase brings hope to this small town
Mural by artist Jason Kofke — Photo courtesy of Discover Dunwoody
“Everything will be OK.”
Residents of Dunwoody, Georgia (a small town just north of Atlanta) woke up Tuesday morning (March 17) to yard signs scattered around town with these four words.
“It happened overnight,” says Melanie Watson, Communications Manager at Discover Dunwoody. “People went to bed and woke up to signs all over town. It was like waking up to presents on Christmas morning.”
The phrase first popped up in town back in 2009, when local artist Jason Kofke painted a mural with the words as part of an art show at the Spruill Gallery. When the exhibition ended, the mural came down. Then the phone calls started coming. Residents of Dunwoody wanted to know where the sign went and why. Was everything not okay?
The gallery decided to return the mural to its original position, and the four words painted across it in simple capital letters have since become Dunwoody’s unofficial town motto.
Even though the motto has been an important part of Dunwoody life for more than a decade, it has become all the more pertinent in recent weeks, and some residents of Dunwoody have taken it upon themselves to spread the message.
Heyward Wescott owns a small sign printing business in midtown Atlanta. It didn’t take long for other residents to discover that it was Wescott, a beacon of the local community, who placed the signs around town.
“I think the message is just wonderful,” Wescott said in an interview with Fox5 Atlanta. “We’ve had this sign for years in our community and I think now is the perfect time to embrace it.”
Local law enforcement joined the movement, displaying the phrase on a traffic sign, and another resident, Justin Dike, painted the words across the wall of the Georgetown Rec swim and tennis club.
Yard sign (top left), mural at Georgetown Rec (top middle), traffic sign (top right), original mural (bottom left), coffee mug with motto (bottom right) — Photo courtesy of Discover Dunwoody
“While I was taking a picture of my paint-covered hands doing a thumbs up, a woman that was jogging past stopped and took a photo. That was a nice bit of instant feedback,” said Dike. “If it’s still there in a year, I’ll be surprised. I’m hoping it says ‘Everything is back to normal.'”
The subscription box the world needs now
This Seattle box is packed with local products from other entrepreneurs — Photo courtesy of Keep Your City Smiling
The SnapBar was in the business of custom photo booth rentals and selfie stations for weddings, music festivals, parties and conferences. In a matter of a few weeks, event cancellations wiped the calendar clean, bringing business to a rather sudden halt.
On March 16, The SnapBar pivoted. With a focus on their core value of “Care,” the company launched Keep Your City Smiling, a new subscription box service with local goods from local businesses in the Seattle area struggling in the wake of COVID-19. Each box contains five to seven items – snacks and drinks, art, skin care and other lifestyle products.
“We love the idea we’ve come up with and its potential to help out our fellow entrepreneurs,” says co-founder and CEO Sam Eitzen. “We hope people can see this even beyond a typical e-commerce purchase and more as an incentivized, feel-good way to help local businesses stay above water in this unstable time.”
Keep Your City Smiling is planning to launch boxes for even more cities, including Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin.
Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square gets “flower-bombed”
Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square got “flower bombed” — Photo courtesy of DFW Event Design
As conference, wedding and graduation cancellations continued to stack up, DFW Event Design owner Katie Robinson found herself with a cooler full of flowers and nothing to do with them.
“I saw a video online from our flower market in Holland were we all buy from, and they were just throwing flowers out in the parking lot,” says Robinson. “I knew I couldn’t throw them out and I needed to make sure they were still used to bring joy and smiles to people faces. We all need that right about now.”
Robinson teamed up with three other Philadelphia companies, Pennock Floral, DVFlora and Fabufloras Design, to “flower bomb” Rittenhouse Square. “I picked Rittenhouse because this is a part that so many of our wedding clients take photos in and so many of the Philadelphia people sit during their lunch breaks,” said Robinson.
A message from DFW Event Design — Photo courtesy of DFW Event Design
The team of businesses transformed more than 2,000 stems into colorful installations in urns around the perimeter of the park, as well as at the center fountain and the granite lion statue. Leftover flowers were left in buckets for members of the public to take home. “All we wanted to do was touch one person and I think we accomplished well beyond that, which makes my heart full.”