By Cecilia Chan, GSN Managing Editor
Once known as the “Hay Capital of the World,” Gilbert now has an official moniker – Kindness USA.
Town Council last week passed a resolution adopting the nickname and setting April 22-28 as Gilbert Kindness Week.
“In general I feel like Gilbert has always been a community of kindness even in how people drive,” said Jesse Flocken, who approached the town with the idea. “It’s been evident in the different tone and pace.”
In adopting its new nickname, the resolution states the town recognizes the value of simple acts of kindness performed without prompting or reason and how these acts can positively impact the performers, the recipients and onlookers of the good deeds.
Flocken also has secured approval from the U.S. Postal Service for residents to use Kindness instead of Gilbert for their home mailing address. For example, mail can be sent to the Town of Gilbert at 50 E. Civic Center Drive, Kindness, AZ 85296.
This is expected to become available in April, he said.
Flocken also literally wants to put Gilbert on the map as a community that stands for kindness. He is working with Google to add “Kindness USA” to Gilbert on Google maps. Flocken, the founder and CEO of Clearly Relevant, a marketing and media company in Gilbert, is providing the service for free to the town. He also is a Gilbert firefighter, going on 13 years.
Flocken, who moved to Gilbert in 2008, said he and his team got the idea while working with the town on its kindness campaign.
The town began the campaign in 2017 to share stories of kindness via social media as a way to celebrate thoughtful things residents do for each other and encourage the community to spread kindness, according to town spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison.
When Flocken broached the idea of the nickname so that the entire country would know how kind Gilbert is, it fit in what the town was doing, she said.
Activities contemplated for Kindness Week include a kindness festival at the Town Hall lawn; wrapping the water tower with a “#GilbertKindness#StandForKindness” banner; and increasing employee engagement with the community.
The last day of Kindness week, April 28, coincides with Global Pay it Forward Day. The worldwide initiative’s intent is to make a difference by creating a huge ripple of kindness felt across the world.
“The items are simply ideas at this point,” Harrison said. “We will be working with the community in the coming weeks to determine what Gilbert Kindness Week will entail.”
The week will be a call to action, Flocken said.
Gilbert also is looking at a potential website domain, WelcomeToKindness.com, that would include official schedules, downloadable content and town events.
Harrison said what Gilbert is doing is not new, citing various cities around the country that added nicknames or temporarily changed their names.
The small Florida town of Mayo last August temporarily changed its name to “Miracle Whip” as part of a marketing stunt. Kellyville, Oklahoma, changed its name for a day last October to Somewhere, reportedly to honor a local singer.
And, Topeka, Kansas, in 2010 changed its name for a month to Google in an effort to snag a project proposed by the technology giant. It ended up passing up on the capital city for Kansas City, Kansas, instead.
Flocken’s goal is loftier.
Just like when someone buys a new car and begins to notice other drivers with the same car, Flocken wants to do the same with kindness.
“If people are taking note or looking for it, they will see more opportunities of it taking place and have the opportunity to show kindness,” he said. “It’s free to be kind regardless of your walk in life, your faith, your upbringing. Everybody can get behind being kind. The more kind we are, the less opportunity for the negatives to take hold.”