PA Kindness Poem Project

2021

You’ve shared your kindness on social media – now see how the entire state of Pennsylvania came together to help create a poem of kindness.

PA Humanities partnered with Philadelphia poet laureate Trapeta B. Mayson on a mission to help spread kindness throughout the state. Named the PA Kindness Poem Project, this year-long initiative invited residents to share messages on social media that promote generosity, healing, reconciliation, and peace. Drawing inspiration from those shared words, Mayson has created an original poem, “Kindness Lives Here,” and we released it on World Kindness Day 2021.

We reached out to some of our friends and partners across the state to help us read this beautiful poem aloud:

  • Mario Andretti, Racing Legend
  • Conrad Benner, Founder of @StreetsDept and Nationally-Recognized Photographer
  • Tracy Davidson, NBC10 Anchor
  • Alejandro Diaz, Principal Dancer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Beck Dorey-Stein, New York Times Bestselling Author of From the Corner of the Oval
  • Gisele Barreto Fetterman, Second Lady of Pennsylvania
  • Gritty, Famed Philadelphia Flyers Mascot
  • Nydia Han, 6ABC Anchor
  • Trapeta B. Mayson, Philadelphia 2020-2021 Poet Laureate
  • Jason Schupbach, Dean of the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University
  • Ukee Washington, CBS 3 Anchor
  • Frances Wolf, First Lady of Pennsylvania  
  • Laurie Zierer, Executive Director of PA Humanities

“This project was deeply personal because it allowed me to tap into and connect with the thoughts, feelings, and stories of many people across Pennsylvania.”

Trapeta B. Mayson, Philadelphia Poet Laureate

kindness lives here

kindness lives here
in this vast and tangled land
we know its good and steady bones
its grip and heavy hand
when storms move through us and our town
like boisterous visitors
leveling homes
scattering photos and memories and kin
kindness sprawls out on the ground with us
right there among our remaining things
sheltering us from despair and emptiness
gives drink and meal
brings the nails and plank
boards up shattered pieces
puts us back together again

when shoulders cave at lonesome burial sites
and masked and muffled cries haunt the grief filled air
when bellies pine for a hearty meal
and once filled cupboards are bare
we know kindness lives here
when paychecks won’t make the stretch
we’ve come to know grace too
we know its awesome limber reach
fluid
flowing alongside us and our blossoming dreams
lifting and holding us up when we fall
pointing us toward the new plan ahead

Kindness lives here
when we call out to a stranger
or flash a smile or give a nod to lift haggard spirts
when we step aside and let another take the shine
when we let bygones go and cross the dividing line
to listen
to stand with
to stand up
to say I don’t agree
and I honor your humanity
we know kindness lives here, lives within us
we dab tear-streaked faces
make bread and covered dishes
lend a dollar, give a ride
stand in when someone couldn’t
just do it when others wouldn’t

Kindness
seeks no return, no fanfare
no grand gestures
in its elegant silence
it moves the needle
it makes a mark
it’s a small ax
chipping away
It’s our salve
It mends and heals
It’s our confetti
heaping bright handfuls
tossed into the air
landing on us
weightlessly
coloring our vast and tangled world
landing on us softly
so gentle that we hardly notice
but leading us to a trail, a path, a way
to do better, to do more, to just do

The PA Kindness Poem Project officially kicked off on February 17th, with the first message of kindness offered by Gisele Barreto Fetterman, PA Humanities board member and Pennsylvania’s Second Lady.


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