People in Boise are generally nice — and Mayor David Bieter wants to keep it that way.
Bieter launched the city’s Boise Kind initiative Thursday on Treefort’s Main Stage. The campaign encourages Boise to remain a welcoming community.
Bieter proposed Boise Kind in his State of the City address in September.
Thursday’s kick-off emphasized maintaining the city’s “core values,” mainly kindness, as people from all over the country move to the area. Not everyone in the city is comfortable with the rapid growth the city has seen in recent years.
Boise Kind emphasizes that it is easy to treat both longtime residents and newcomers with respect.
Bieter told the story of how, as a child at the Western Idaho Fair, he got separated from his family and ended up with a woman he didn’t know. She helped him reunite with his mother.
“That’s what kindness is all about,” Bieter said.
Bieter’s speech was interrupted by at least two hecklers who shouted that the mayor hated people who are homeless and that he was the unkind one. While Bieter did acknowledge their shouting, he did not address what they were saying. He finished his speech by reminding the crowd he and volunteers would be giving away chorizo and by throwing “Boise Kind” t-shirts into the audience.
While many of the Treefort attendees at the main stage were not Boise natives, they thought the effort was noble, even if it didn’t end up going how the city hopes it will.
Lena Pearson, who does live in Boise, said that one of the reasons she moved to the city was that people were incredibly kind when she visited.
“I don’t think actively trying to be kind is ever a bad thing,” Pearson said.
If you’re 13 or older, you can take a kindness pledge on the city’s website, where you pledge to “seize every opportunity to be caring and generous,” and “have the courage to be authentic,” among other promises.
You can also use the city’s website to submit acts of kindness you see, receive or participate in. You can upload pictures or provide an email address if you want the city to contact you about your story; the goal is to document as many acts of kindness as possible.
Boise Kind involves collaboration by the city, community members and nonprofits. The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Boise School District are taking part.
There are plans in the works for “Boise Day,” an annual day of volunteering hosted by the city and its partners, at some point in the summer; and for a school partnership to encourage further kindness in the schools during the fall.
Other goals of the initiative include raising money for charitable causes and grass-roots actions to foster kindness.
Bieter encourages Boiseans to use the hashtag #BoiseKind on social media.