While scrolling through my twitter feed a couple months ago, my eye landed on the image of a bright blue butterfly. It was the graphic logo for “Sb2.” Curious, I clicked on the link, and learned the organization is Secret Blue Butterfly, whose mission is to “Pollinate the world with kindness and love with random acts of kindness.” I checked out the numerous pictures posted of a $10 gift card left on the exterior of a Starbucks; a $20 bill taped onto a stranger’s car door; a $5 bill taped onto a slot machine. Each had a post-it note saying “you are loved” and a printed image of “the secrete blue butterfly.” Wanting to know more, I contacted the founder over Twitter, who agreed to be interviewed anonymously in hopes of inspiring more kindness. Here’s our Q&A.
How did you come up with the idea for Secret Blue Butterfly?
One day my daughter, age seven at the time, and I went out for a bike ride. During our ride through a park we came upon a beautiful chalk drawing on the cement of the bike path. It was so beautiful that it caused us both to stop and read what was written on the sidewalk: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” This well-known quote by Mark Twain became the foundation for the project we were soon to start. We began talking about random acts of kindness.
Tell us about that conversation…
Well, my daughter asked, “Who do you think drew this?” I told her I didn’t know but that whoever did should be proud, and what a beautiful gesture it was that brightened our day. My daughter went on to tell me that maybe it’s best we didn’t know who drew the picture because when we get to know the messenger too well, we let our own biases about the person change the message. I was impressed with her insight, and we wondered what would happen if once a day we did one random act of kindness and left something as a symbol of that act but never told anyone it was us.
And the name?
I reminded my daughter of the time we visited Costa Rica on a vacation and were up in the rain forest and saw a beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly. Since the blue butterfly is the symbol of transformation, we decided that this would be our trademark that accompanied kind acts. Our goal was to have these beautiful blue butterflies become the symbol of pollinating the world with kindness and love. Once we got home from our bike ride, we got online and secured the domain name www.secretbluebutterfly.com and began our journey.
Was it just you two at first doing these small acts of kindness, and how did it grow?
My daughter and I started with one kind act a day that we posted on social media. I always tell her, it is our job to take the first step to a more loving and kind world so each day we would take that step together. If we walk long enough alone, eventually someone will follow, and that is what happened for us. Over time people requested the butterfly cards we leave, and then took their own first step. There are now over 16,000 people following Secret Blue Butterfly on Twitter, and more than 60 countries have Secret Blue Butterflies fluttering about sprinkling kindness everywhere they go.
You ask that those who join your movement to keep their gifts anonymous. What’s so important about that?
If kindness has a name and a face, it has an owner. We call all be kind. Everyone can do it. At some point in everyone’s life we have all desired and needed an act of kindness to give us hope. There will come a time when our spirit will be low and we will need a lift so it is important to offer that very lift when things in our life are going well.
Can you tell us more about your suggested giving amount of $5 or less?
I often hear, “I don’t have anything to give. If I had more I would give but until then I can’t.” We must take the first step to a kinder world. We will not be given to until we give. True kindness comes in forms that cost nothing. Smile at a stranger, write a note to a friend, hold a door for someone or simply compliment someone. These are things anyone can do no matter your financial circumstances. Less than $5 or free is something every human being can do.
What role does social media play when it comes to the Secret Blue Butterfly movement?
The brilliance of social media is it can bring communities together from around the world to create a more loving and kind word. Social media has the potential to illustrate to us how similar everyone on the planet is. Kindness in one community has the potential to create a ripple effect of kindness around the world.
How can people get started who wanted to get involved?
Before you go to bed tonight compliment someone you love. Tell someone you love how much they mean to you. Do the dishes for your spouse or parent. When kindness starts at home, you are on the road to being kind everywhere you go. Take the first step with someone you love and soon your world with transform. And if you want to do random acts of kindness for strangers and want some free butterfly cards go to www.secretbluebutterfly.com. We would love to have you on this journey.
Michelle Cove is the Executive Director of MEDIAGIRLS®, a nonprofit organization that teaches girls how to critique the way girls and women are portrayed in pop culture with an emphasis on creating empowering content.
She is also an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and author whose projects have been featured on numerous national platforms including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Katie Couric’s talk show “Katie,” “The Today Show,” The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
Visit www.mediagirls.org to learn more.