Do Anything Nice Club encourages positivity despite setbacks
By Meagan McGinnes
Walking into campus center, I ran into the bathroom to fix my wind-tousled hair before breakfast. The day was off to anything but a good start. The alarm did not go off, I stubbed my toe in my haste to get ready, and I realized I had forgotten to print out a paper for my first class of the day. But, when I looked in the mirror, I was pleasantly surprised. Someone had spelled out “Love Life” with post its on the glass. I smiled, and suddenly my day seemed a little brighter.
Freshman Jenny Barish is trying to encourage acts of kindness just like this while rebooting the Ithaca College chapter of Do Anything Nice (D.A.N.). Founder Michael Unis brought the non-profit organization to the college six years ago. Since then, the group has had its ups and downs because of a lack of attendance. However, Barish is not letting these small setbacks get her down.
“Jenny has the perfect spirit for this kind of organization because she has an ability to get people excited about her ideas in a way that is inspiring, but at the same time keep a focused goal in mind, which is the key to a group like this,“ said Emma Markham, a D.A.N. executive board member.
Barish is starting a movement to promote joy and build community through random acts of kindness done once a week. This organization has no meetings. D.A.N. spreads its words of kindness through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. After that, it is up to the members to decide whether or not they would like to participate in the act of kindness of the week.
The kick-off event to spread smiles and happiness was held Feb. 11: Positive Post-It Day. People wrote a happy thought on a sticky note. The goal was to plaster Campus Center with hundreds of Post-Its so people could be basically spammed with kindness all day long when they least expected it.
Unfortunately, the ideals of order prevailed over kindness. Within a half hour, more than 300 Post-Its were removed from the walls in efforts to obey the college’s strict solicitation policy. No posters, fliers or even sticky notes are to be hung in the center without being on a bulletin board and without a club’s name and contact information. The center was willing to work with the group in the sense that no students would suffer judicially for the notes throughout the day. However, are positive thoughts really solicitation?
“When they were all up, people’s faces lit up,” Barish said. “I saw so many people smiling; they loved it.”
Who wouldn’t love to see a positive note that has a message like, “You are infinite sunshine.” or a comment like, “Well, at least it is colder in Siberia?” Unis agrees. He told the story of how he first encountered the concept of D.A.N. at Verona High School. “It is the smallest things we remember the most,” Unis said.
His freshman year of high school, there were signs plastered on all the walls, saying, “D.A.N. is coming.” No one knew who or what D.A.N. was, and the posters intrigued everyone. Finally, the day had come for the arrival. That morning, the mysterious D.A.N. had left each person a piece of candy and a nice note in their lockers. Unis, who was having a bad day, couldn’t help but smile.
“At that moment I knew everyone; we were all experiencing the same things,” Unis said.
Barish had a similar experience, which encouraged her to ignite this movement of kindness. She was prompted by an English assignment that said to have a rebellion. She decided to rebel against the site FML. She asked students to write positive notes instead, ending with the phrase “LML,” or “Love My Life.” Teachers and students were floored by this act of kindness, and soon the notes were everywhere. Hundreds of positive thoughts spammed her high school’s halls.
“Even though college is not a bunch of apathetic sophomores, sometimes we still need that same inspiration,” Barish said.
Now is a time more than ever to stand up to passiveness, spreading “hugs not guns.” It is time to join the movement.
“This organization is yours, mine, ours—it’s everyone’s,” Unis said. “We are all looking toward the same vision.”
To learn more about Ithaca College’s chapter of D.A.N., email [email protected]
Interested in the broader movement? Go to doanythingnice.org