Kindness Project nurtures connections and random acts of generosity

Ron Glave (right) stares into the eyes of Militke as part of an eye-contact experiment organized as part of the Kindness Project. The project seeks to promote human connection and random acts of kindness. Laura Stovel photo

By Laura Stovel

Anyone who visited the Farmer’s Market on Thursday at the Community Centre might have glanced into the MacPherson Room and seen two people sitting on chairs looking deeply into each other’s eyes. Without saying a word, sometimes searching, sometimes uncomfortable, occasionally laughing, the participants connected eye-to-eye for two minutes, the time marked by the gentle sound of a gong.

This is the first event of the Kindness Project, a new initiative started by Ron Glave, Giles Shearing and other community members. They want to counterbalance the negativity in the world by recognizing and encouraging acts of kindness and generosity.

“It’s something that has sat with me for a very long time,” Glave said. “I felt that this was an opportune moment with the things that are going on around us: the disengagement of our youth through technology and things that are happening in the media. There’s a lot of negativity being put out there and I just recognized a great opportunity to take some initiative.”

“I’ve been inspired by a group called the Liberators International. I’ve watched their social movement and the impact that it’s had,” Glave said. “It started with an accountant. One day he decided he was going to take action through social acts of kindness and generosity and create ripple effects.” The movement has reached around the globe, he said, with hundreds of thousands of people participating.

The organization promotes activities like “the human connection, or eye-contact, experiment that we’re practicing here today, where you spend a minute or two just gazing into a stranger’s eyes and re-establishing contact with people around us,” Glave said. “Even in my own experience I’m recognizing more and more that we talk past people or we talk through them. We don’t really talk to them.”

“I know, as a community, that a lot of good is taking place randomly here and there and I’ve been thinking about using the Kindness Project to be a platform for recognizing all the things that are going very well in our community, all the random acts of unconditional kindness, generosity and sharing,” Glave said. The project would serve as a “hub or a central space” initiating and recognizing such acts.

Glave set up a Kindness Project Facebook page where he plans to “start spreading awareness about opportunities that can happen, other groups that are doing acts of kindness and generosity and also creating some of our own events.”