15 October 2007

friday afternoon

guerilla art army

we took to the streets of downtown portland, loads of little paper fortunes in hand. we were hoping to leave them in a hundred different places, we were hoping all kinds of people would find them. and smile or laugh or stop for a second and look around. or something, anything. who knows how much of that actually happened but it doesn't really matter. as it turns out, the act of doing was enough.

furiously at work

inspired by keri smith's guerilla art kit, I cut paper into teeny tiny slips and set out a mess of colored pencils. the crew was hungry for a project and didn't need a lot of extra prompting from me. the crew (aka guerilla art army) at hand: ava and friends abby and millie, plus kind of/sort of ezra.

because everyone wants to hear it

there really weren't any rules except, you know, to write something nice. what I told them was to write something they might like to find and read. interesting, the slight variations in interpretation: for example, abby felt strongly about dating each of her fortunes while millie's messages were more succinct and abstract, decorated with hearts and stars and exclamation points. mine were in the vein of hey, your hair looks good today or go on, play hooky from work and ava's were so heartbreakingly sweet I could barely stand to read them. messages like don't listen to the mean things people say and you will always look pretty. I saved that last one, by the way. tucked it away someplace special. sort of makes me want to cry when I look at it. but also, it makes me feel pretty.

hopefully

after lunch we set out for downtown. on our way to catch the street car, millie hid the first secret fortune in a small, rectangular nook close to the ground. abby said only a kid would find that one because adults are mostly too busy looking ahead and walking fast. uh, she's probably right. no wait, she is absolutely right.

in the coils

it didn't take long before the whole thing turned into the best game ever. where to hide the fortunes? where could they be effectively hidden but still be found? how will they keep from blowing away? what if we'd thought to bring tape? millie wins the prize for most brilliant hiding place: in the coils of the springs of a bicycle seat. so wishing I'd thought of that one.

a few other hiding places:

in a bicycle basket

in the basket of a bicycle parked outside the library. personally, I think anyone who takes the time to decorate their bicycle basket with flowers deserves a secret fortune.

open me

underneath some leaves on a concrete bench outside the downtown public library.

in the cracks

in the crack of yet another concrete bench and again with the downtown library. we hit the inside pretty hard too.

we think she liked it

and speaking of the library, as we were walking by, we passed a homeless woman who'd set up camp on one of the concrete benches and was surrounded by several bags stuffed with what looked to be all her earthly possessions. and before I could stop it (or even have time to think about whether or not I should stop it), ava carefully placed one of her secret fortunes in the one small spot that wasn't occupied by the woman's bags. I was too busy chasing after ezra to react but once I caught up with him, I turned to see if the woman had noticed the fortune. and then I saw her pick up that tiny piece of paper and look in our direction. I turned away just then, hastily put my camera down. felt something akin to shame. actually, I wasn't sure how I felt because I wasn't sure how she felt. I wasn't sure if she was crazy or if maybe she thought I was crazy or if it was even okay that we had done what we'd done. but I couldn't help myself, I turned to look at her once more and dang it if she wasn't smiling.

more hiding places:

for the next person

for the next person who picks up a copy of the jewish review.

feeding

for the next person who goes to feed the meter.

at the book store

for the person roaming the western philosophy aisle at powell's.

this is better

for the next person who needs to make a call. wait, is there anyone left in the world who still uses the pay phone? I hope so.

I can't wait to do this again. I absolutely cannot wait. should you feel the need to try this out yourself, please do. and report back. we could all use a little bit more of the shiny happy, yes? precisely the point.

118 comments:

  1. I saw these photos earlier on Flickr, and have been happy thinking about this project ever since ... such a cool, fun project -- and especially great to do with kids.

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  2. Oh my god, Andrea, this is my favourite idea ever. I can hardly wait until my kid is old enough to write (well, actually I can -- I'm having a heartbreaking "she's growing up too fast" day today, but that's another story). I love this. And you will always look pretty.

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  3. this makes me *smile* what a beautiful project!

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  4. this is so very wonderful. i now plan to make a ton and take them with us on our trip to new york next month. you inspire me so!

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  5. Oh, I'm so glad that she was smiling when you turned back!! How very wonderful and fun, the whole thing.

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  6. Wanted to do guerrilla art for a while but postponed it again and again. Seeing it done in such a simple way gives me the energy to actually DO it!

    I want to help my community be a little happier too :-)

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  7. pure genius. i love it! will definitely tackle this project in the very near future. stay tuned...

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  8. andrea i love this idea. and what a way to keep the kids occupied! i only wish each little scrap had a secret tiny camera attached so we could see the reactions of those who had found them.

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  9. my boyfriend and i did something similar back in August, 2007.

    i had to link today's post to my blog today. check it out.

    natty

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  10. you are the type of mom I strive to be! What a great project (now placed in my memory file for when she gets older)

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  11. Oh,oh I love this! I so wish I had found one. (I live in Portland - and work near Downtown) What a wonderful idea. I will keep my eyes open. Just think how many people you made happy... including the woman at the library. I see her almost everyday after I drop my husband off at work.

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  12. What a brilliant idea! Sounds like so much fun - I love it.

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  13. Seriously, this is fantastic + wonderful. Eugene could use a few of these.

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  14. oh man, this is the best ending to my day possible. why do i feel like i received all of those fortunes?! thank you. you are so inspiring. i hope i am as cool and thoughtful as a mother someday. i will definitely remember this one. thanks for sharing.it made me think of a recent post of yours trying to explain to your daughter what you do for a job. you can say, i try to add more smiles and love and laughter to the world and teach my kids to do the same...

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  15. oh, i did this with my best friend in college, and had nearly forgotten about it until now.

    shinyhappy days all around. huzzah!

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  16. when i grow up i want to be a mommy like andrea! i love this so much. and yes..yes..yes..in my humble opinion i think it was absolutely right to give the lady on the bench a little note. what a beautiful thing....the spontaneous, loving, pure heart of a child.

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  17. what a great thing to do--especially with your kids. Good for you! I'm sure you made many people smile.

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  18. what an inspiring idea! thanks so much for sharing it!

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  19. thanks for this. it's inspiring and exactly what i needed to read right now.

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  20. how GREAT is this?!? i wish i was there with you! and best post EVER!!! i wish i could tell you how much i loved reading this... you bring so much 'hula' into our lives with your writing/photos, thanks!

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  21. this is so lovely and inspiring andrea! your photos are beautiful too and you are so right...ava's messages are just perfect. this made my day. thank you for sharing. xo

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  22. What a touching and fun day. Thanks for sharing. Those kids sound like they are really special.

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  23. I think a day spent with you and your kids would be one of the best days ever. Creativity flows through you! As does a tremendous heart- A wonderful idea and a touching adventure for the kids.

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  24. Wow, what an amazing and cool project! I love it!

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  25. Wonderful!! Such fun, and such a smile-maker. And while I love the slip project, it was Ezra's little feet in the first photo totally made my morning. Too darn cute.

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  26. this is the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world.

    you are an amazing, inspirational momma, andrea!

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  27. love this idea!!!! great great great fun!!!

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  28. what an absolutely fabulous idea! for my 33 birthday i purchased a box of SARK"s cards and scattered them all over town. it was such fun.

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  29. I'm so glad you turned around to look at the lady on the bench. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day.

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  30. that is such an awesome and beautiful idea! i think i'll do this with my son!

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  31. Just bought the book this weekend and now you've ignited the spark, to go out (or IN as I like to say) to the world and make a difference (for someone else maybe? for me definitely.) thru art/love/expression. Thanks for the beautiful photos and recounting of a very special day.

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  32. yay! this was my little "to-do" prjoects last winter. one of my fave drop locations is the produce section at the grocery store.

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  33. What a wonderful idea. I think it would be a perfect thing to do in the middle of winter just to brighten up peoples' days.

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  34. i love to go guerilla 'book-hiding,' (although books are hard to hide, so it's more like random placement) but this is just too incredible. it is pure goodness and light. i'll probably be looking all over the city for those strips of paper now. :)

    thanks for sharing...this made my evening. :)

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  35. andrea.... i'm late - but you amaze me.
    always

    hugs.

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  36. I can't wait until my kids are old enough to do this!!!
    These photos are stunning.
    Vx

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  37. Thank you. What a great amount of good energy you put out into the world! I will copy this project if you don't mind!

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  38. i imagine that keri would be all over this post.

    you are a freakin' momspiration.

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  39. this is the most amazing idea ever! how fun, sweet, and adventurous!

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  40. Wow, reading this really made my day (and this is, or was, a bad day, so you did a good job!). Almost as if I had received one of the fortunes myself. Thanks for doing this and telling the story with wonderful photos and words.

    Must try this and turn other peoples' days upside down (hopefully in the right direction).

    Thanks!

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  41. I love this! One year when I was in college I left valentines all around my school's area in Brooklyn on February 14, and I feel a true kindred spirit reading this!

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  42. Such a great idea, so inspiring. I would love to try this or something similar with my kids.
    We live in Portland, so thanks for helping us be a little more shinyhappy.

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  43. Beautiful story to go with beautiful photos, children and action - thanks for sharing! I want to do this too, it's so great and must be specially fun with to do with children!

    wow!

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  44. a lovely, beautiful idea. i am going to steal it....

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  45. this is incredible! i'm going to do at least one of these everyday for the rest of my life. for real.
    amazing!

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  46. Found your blog today and was greeted with this gem. Super fun and extremely inspiring. Thanks for sharing the goodness.

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  47. oh my.
    this is an amazing thing to do with young people.
    and old people.
    it is now on my list.

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  48. More proof that Portland has the coolest people ever!!

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  49. brilliant...
    and wonderful!

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  50. OOh, this is wonderful! Just knowing someone's out there teaching their kids to do things like this makes my day. Thank you!

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  51. whenever i find a piece of paper on the ground i pick it up in hope of something like this...love it!

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  52. Yes, this is lovely. Once I found a small button that said "You are loved." It came just when I needed it and it reminded me of this very important fact. These messages could save someone's life.

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  53. I know you have heard this a zillion tmes but this is SO cool! I love, love, love it!

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  54. You have so many comments on this entry. So heres another one. I dont even know how I found your blog, but im certainly happy i did. I really got inspired from this form of guerrilla art, i knew about guerrilla marketing, but i didnt know you can make a proyect like this with art. Im planning on doing one myself :) Thank you for your inspiration.

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  55. I would love to find a fun little surprise like that. I might have to try making my own with my nieces.

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  56. you guys are too cool! I want to be in your family! will you adopt me?

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  57. I wish I'd seen some of your fortunes around town! I'm new to Portland, live and work in the Downtown area. I'd love to know when you're up to something again. :)

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  58. the sweetest project i've read!!

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  59. I'm smiling just thinking of those lucky fortune-finders.

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  60. How cool! Oh I wish I would have found one of these!!!

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  61. How enchanting! Reading about this brilliant project totally made my day. I am so going to do this with my little girl when she is old enough. Acutally I don't think I can wait that long. :) Thank you for setting such a beautiful, inspiring example!

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  62. I LOVE that idea!!!! That is so cool! I'm totally doing that as soon as we move to our new house. We live in Philadelphia and the city of brotherly love may need some anonymous feel good fortunes-thanks for an awesome idea to do with my girls! My in-laws actually live in Portland, I hope next time we are up that way I'll be lucky enough to find one. I was lucky enough to just find your blog, and am adding you to my list of inspiring people-I'll be checking back! peace, d.

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  63. This is such a wonderful and positive idea! Beautiful!

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  64. Wow, this is soooooooo cooooooooool! I think we want to copy the idea!

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  65. thank you for a lovely heart warming read. I want to do this with my daughter.

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  66. YES! Best project ever. Love this idea ... will try this over the weekend.

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  67. My friend Jess and I are going to do this, thanks to you. This is one of the nicest and best things I've ever heard of in my whole life.

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  68. Maybe we could start an epidemic of this all over the world......it might make a difference...........(I'm serious.)

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  69. this. is. an. incredible. idea. Did you know? :)

    I am taking my little sister out when I go home for thanksgiving and we are going to hit the streets, papers in hand! :) thank you for sharing your lovely idea.

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  70. we're doing it to - the guerilla army has spread to canada... watch out world! you are about to get more lovely!

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  71. What a simple yet entertaining idea-kids just thrive on that kind of stuff! Thanks for the great idea!

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  72. wonderful! wonderful! wonderful!!!
    I just know that if I found one of your fortunes, it would completely make my day!
    And I'm sure it felt soo so good to do!

    How 'bout this windstorm??? My windows are a rattlin' here in SE!
    - jen
    http://www.shesawthings.com

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  73. this is the first time I stopped here and what a great surprise you had, I loved what you did! I think I will copy your inspiring little game!

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  74. What a wonderful idea! So lovely and fun! I would love to do it!

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  75. I popped over from Corey's blog. I look for interesting paper scraps wherever I go. Wish I'd been in Portland.

    Darla

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  76. This is the best idea. I'm thinking it would be a fun thing to do on Thanksgiving. I like the idea of the tape too.

    I found you at Tongue in Cheek. I'll be back again soon !!!!

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  77. I sent this to a friend of mine; she cried! Thanks for this post.

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  78. This is just wonderful and you made me smile just reading and the fact that you all sent all sorts of inspiration and good fortune out into the world... well that is precious beyond belief... thank you!

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  79. Okay, this seriously made me cry. What an incredibly beautiful thing.

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  80. Oh how great!

    Corey sent me.
    You are the BEST!

    Constance

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  81. You are beautiful person!
    Found you though Corey today.

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  82. Hi Andrea

    I found you through Rel's blog, who found you through Corey's blog...

    What a beautiful thing you did for people that day...we need more people like you in our world. Could you please clone you and your friends and come down here...actually, we can just copy your idea, can't we?

    Lovely to meet you and read your post.

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  83. Being a Portlander, this makes me want to go downtown and hunt for fortunes!!! Wonderful idea -- sounds like you had so much fun! I bet the girls will remember that for a long, long time. Oh, and if that's the same homeless woman who was at the library last week, she is crazy. Good job making her smile!

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  84. Great idea. Portland is a beautiful city.

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  85. I'm going to Portland soon
    maybe i'll happen upon a note
    :-D

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  86. what a wonderful, wonderful idea. this post damn near made me cry.

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  87. Oh this is so dang BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for sharing. I cannot WAIT to play this game! thanks for bringing a huge GRIN to my day!

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  88. This must be one of the best ideas ever! It would make my whole week to find a note like that. Just imagine how many people you have made feel good (including all of us who have read about it!). Thank you!!

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  89. Woot - this is awesome! Look out for your secret fortunes this weekend, San Francisco!

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  90. I did something anonymously once, like this, that I intended to make the recipients feel good, and instrad it made ME feel good that they (hopefully) felt good. I bought a box of 365 tiny mini cards. Everyday I scanned our works birthday list and sent one card, with a box of chiclets gum, and signed it "from your secret admirer." Everyone secretly thought they were special and when they started noting them on other peoples desks they started asking who they knew in common that could be doing it. It was fun to hear all the speculation and excitement at who would get one next and yet remain totally anonymous. I plan to try your fortune variation next because I think it is brilliant and applaude you for sharing it with your children. You're the kind of mom that will be the reason our children will save the world.
    tonya

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  91. What an inspiring idea! Thank you. Hope you don't mind that I linked to it from my blog.

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  92. Hi! I linked to you from Tammy. That was a GREAT project!! So true that we need more positive words like that in life. What a simple yet effective project :)

    I'm like you, I'd like to see the reaction.

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  93. Such a gorgeous idea! I'd love to find one of those tags. I'll have to spread this around.

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  94. What an absolutely inspiring idea! My children and I will have to do the same SOON!

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  95. Hey...just to let you know...I've left my first three notes out today in Costco of all places ... but hey, maybe there was another mom like me, rushing around, needing to hear something nice! Thanks so much again for posting about this...will involve the family soon!

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  96. Good to see others doing this too.
    Nice work. You made me smile.

    :)

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  97. i found one of your notes in oregon square by the state building. the message didn't apply to me but it made me smile. i'm going to do his with my son and his friends one of these weekends soon i hope. nice work!

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  98. Wow, what a great idea. I'll also try it. So I'll make some people happy!
    Amaya. <3

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  99. I did this a couple of months back with sticky-notes, I didn't even realise you had done it! My favourite notes were the ones I left on the mirrors in the changeroom at work saying 'Smile! You look pretty today'. They were left up there for over a week and I had to try so hard not to grin everytime I heard a coworker talking about how nice it was :) Such a fun thing to do, and very exciting! Here's a post with photos of my sticky notes http://sixteenbluebirds.blogspot.com/2009/08/spreading-awesome.html

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  100. this is a wonderful idea. I love it!

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  101. Oh, I remember this. I loved this. I read it for the first time when I first discovered blogs. Before I was brave enough to comment. I love this!

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  102. Amazingily inspiring. I'm so happy that Kelly Rae steered me to this post. I'm going to try this with my granddaughter - she's 4. Also, going to tell my dil as she loves activities like this. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

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  103. love this. i have thought of doing this myself. now i have the push

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  104. I LOVE THIS! It so makes me smile. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Best wishes to you!
    Juliette

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  105. Love this. Definitely doing this with my kids. Thanks :D

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  106. wow that is so cool, i LOVE it!!

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  107. Your blog encourages me to make my own. Your blog is simply amazing and has high quality content. I love it!

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  108. How fun! My daughter would love this <3

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  109. Love the involvement with the kids and the "pay it forward" concept. Great outdoor activity for all ages. Thanks for sharing (pictures were great!)!!

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