Karin Abell, the director for the English as a Second Language department at Durham Technical Community College, founded 2751* Rocks. The Facebook group connects close to 100 people who paint, hide and find rocks in the local area.
“At first I was just going to support existing groups—the Durham group, the Hillsborough group,” Abell said. "Then the more I talked to people, the more I thought about it, the more I was like, ‘You know, Chapel Hill and Carrboro really need their own group.’”
So far the group has been popular with all ages. Various pictures and posts of parents and kids finding and making painted rocks abound across the public page.
“A lot of the people when they hide the rocks will post a picture and they’ll say, ‘These have gone out,’ or you’ll see people posting pictures of rocks that they have found. I see a lot of that,” Mirrani Houpe, who paints and hides rocks with her wife, said.
Houpe said the Chapel Hill Public Library is one of the most common places to find these rocks. She described the library as a hotspot for painted rocks. But rocks can be found all across the Chapel Hill area.
“A lot of it is about, sort of, brightening someone’s day,” Abell said. “That element of surprise. You are just going about your business and you find this rock and you’re like ‘Hey! That’s cool!’”
The Chapel Hill rock painting community is relatively small compared to other rock painting communities. Abell said that the Tallahassee Rocks group has over 14,000 members. Mebane Rocks has almost 3000 people.
Despite their small number, 2751* Rocks is growing. The Facebook group has a variety of people posting photos of their rocks, photos of their finds and even tips on the best ways to paint their rocks.
It gives people who might be artistic but don’t have the time to do much with that talent a hobby to express themselves.
“I am not an artist by profession,” Abell said. “I taught art at one point for a year in my life. But it’s one of those things that is important to me but it’s not something that I do for a living. So having a recreational thing like this is really fun to do.”