When did the small stones with the wide, acrylic-painted eyes first start appearing around the Kerrytown district? No one is quite sure–locals we talked to guessed anywhere from the summer of 2015 to this past summer. But it’s clear that by now the wide-eyed rocks have made themselves part of the landscape. Many of the rocks have faded from time and wear, but they still grace the gardens, windowsills, and shelves of many Kerrytown area businesses and homes.
“They just made everyone very happy,” says Grateful Dreads salon owner Sandy Bambi, whose sill features a row of the rocks. Though the origin of the friendly watchers remains unknown, they’ve inspired neighbors to join in a mini-craze. Grateful Dreads’ landlord created some jumbo-sized watchful rocks of his own as a way to prevent traffic through their driveway. A cashier at the People’s Food Co-op reports seeing children painting eyes on rocks outside, and the Catching Fireflies gift gallery has been working to expand the phenomenon. Stones found in their courtyard led owner April McCrumb to start a project of her own called “Making Days Brighter.”
Catching Fireflies now sells and tracks its own version of what the shop calls “silly stones.” They donate all the profits to LifeBuilders, a Detroit-area community empowerment center and encourage people to post photos with the hashtag #MakingDaysBrighter when they come upon the rocks.