Local woman ‘rocks’ Chandler with love - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Local woman ‘rocks’ Chandler with love

March 7th, 2018 development
Local woman ‘rocks’ Chandler with love

By PAUL MARYNIAK Executive Editor

Valerie Biberdorf Boman thinks Chandler and its residents rock.

And for a decade, the Chandler woman has been showing her appreciation with rocks.

She paints and decorates rocks, then leaves them by homes, parks, businesses and wherever else she thinks her creations might brighten someone’s day.

For the last year, she’s heightened her effort by organizing others to do the same under the moniker of “Chandler AZ Rocks” – which she calls a “community-building effort to spread joy and happiness” throughout the city.

“There is no profit in it for anyone – sounds hokey, but that’s really what it is,” said Boman, who has even left rocks in hospital parking lots hoping people who “maybe just had chemotherapy and needed a lift” will find them.

She said her campaign “is spreading like wildfire” and even has gone international in a way.

“I began years ago by leaving a sunflower-painted rock everywhere we travel, with the website info on the back of it and encouraging the finders to contact me with updates,” she explained.

“One was picked up in Denali Park, Alaska, by a young Czech couple. He brought it to Shanghai and Moscow for pics as part of the fun, and it now rests at their home in the Czech Republic.”

Boman said her “lifetime of art-related projects” inspired her rocking effort.

“It was natural for me to go from hiding sunflower rocks in our travels, to hiding all types of rocks everywhere else,” she said. “I saw it as a way to put a smile on faces, encourage people, brighten their day and enlist them to join me in the fun.”

Forget asking her to estimate how many rocks she and her followers have left around town. “I have personally distributed many hundreds, but it would be hard to guess how many the entire group has placed at this time,” she said, adding “I might do 20 in a week or I might do 100 in a week.”

She has no problem finding the raw materials for her effort.

“The opportunities for finding the rocks are endless,” she said.

And are the places her artists can leave their creations are equally without limit – “local parks, neighborhood parks, church and business parking lots, in front of stores and restaurants, rest stops and campgrounds as you travel, on a neighbor’s porch, given as gifts. It’s up to the imagination of the person placing the rocks.”

Indeed, there’s a certain spontaneity to her activity, especially since she keeps a box of her painted rocks in her Jeep.

“There is really no decision and for the most part, it’s all random,” she explained. “On any given day while I am out and about, I may leave one in front of Sprouts, four at Veteran’s Oasis Park, two in front of Hobby Lobby and one in front of the animal clinic. Whatever feels right!”

The only thing she hopes for in return is that recipients will at least spread the news of their gift.

“Each rock has ‘Chandler AZ Rocks’ on the back of it, with encouragement to go to our Facebook page and join in the fun by posting photos. When people post photos of their finds, everyone shares in that small bit of joy, and it encourages the painter to do more,” she said.

And she thrills to the “pure joy and surprise and happiness” in those posts.

“I have many photos of little children that have huge grins over the delight of discovering something like a rock that looks like a car,” she said. “Also, rocks have been placed at health care places, where people that are going through treatments find an encouraging rock that says ‘you are loved.’ It can change someone’s day.”

Boman doesn’t stop at rocks as gifts, either, thanks to the acre her home sits on in the Circle G Ranches neighborhood in southeast Chandler.

“Neighbors and friends call it the mini farm,” she said. “We have laying hens and a massive garden, where we grow nearly all veggies and fruits. We plant over 400 tomato plants (from seeds) each year, and we also process all our bounty.

“We have grapefruit, oranges, lime, lemon, peach, nectarine, pear, apricot and plums trees, plus berries, beets, carrots, corn, onion, tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, kale,” she added. “My friends bring their children and grandchildren over to show them where this stuff really comes from.”

And not surprisingly, “lucky friends are also the recipients of fun surprises like fresh tomatoes, jars of pickled beets, or jams. It is crazy and enlightening to see what one can do with your given space. It’s a lesson on what you can do with an acre – even in the dessert. We started with an acre of dirt 18 years ago, and it’s overwhelming to see what tenacity and desire can do in that time.”

Her husband, a retired aerospace industry electrical engineer, does a lot of the farming, and has also built a barn, coop, water features and other additions to their “ranch.”

As for the rocks, Boman said, “anyone that wants to join in the fun” is welcome.

“In our group, we have all ages of painters, all skills and backgrounds, and some are just rock ‘finders and hunters,’ she said. “Painting the rocks is a perfect activity for birthday parties, Boy and Girl Scouts, family get-togethers and neighborhood gatherings.”

Interested people can contact her on Facebook under Chandler AZ Rocks – CAR.

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