Courtesy of Bella Taylor

Bella Taylor ’23 has spent her last few weeks at Yale testing various paints, inks and pens on flat rocks to see which would stick on the surfaces best.

Taylor is hosting a rock-painting session open to Saybrook students in the Saybrook College courtyards on April 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., where she will be encouraging each person to write down a positive message on a stone. She will then hide these painted stones all over campus for all members of Yale to find during reading week — the period that Yale designates between the end of classes and the start of final exams — in an attempt to cultivate a campus community that fosters mental health and wellbeing. 

I hope these painted kindness rocks I’m calling ‘Saybrook Stones’ will bring a smile to someone’s face and spark a little joy in their day,” she said. “[I want] our small act of kindness, which promotes positive mental health, [to] carry into the Yale community, brightening all of our days.”

After finding a stone, a student can either keep it or hide it in a new location for a different “seeker” to uncover. 

The project has been in the works since last fall semester after Taylor officially proposed it during a January Saybrook College Council meeting. Logan George ’25, one of the Student Activities Coordinator chairs present at the meeting, thought that the activity would be the perfect de-stressor amid finals week and agreed to offer funding through the Student Activities Coordinator office, which frequently collaborates with the Saybrook College Office to put on fun gatherings for students. 

One great thing about Saybrook is that additional events can be run by any student who wishes to request funding through the Saybrook College Council at the beginning of each semester,” George added. 

Taylor said that the rock-painting will be just one among a melange of student activities tomorrow at the “Springtime Saylebration.” 

Along with Pierson Day and John Davenport Day, Springtime Saylebration — which is slated to feature yard games, cotton candy, music and an outdoor picnic thrown by its dining hall — is a day of recreational programming and activities available to students in their respective residential colleges. The 2023 Pierson Day was last Saturday on April 23, and both the Saylebration and JD Day will be taking place on April 28. 

Prospective rock-painters “will have samples to refer to, so have no fear if they are out of ideas,” Hongyi Shen ’23, Taylor’s suitemate, wrote to the News.

“Separately, I think the project is also a sweet way to leave something behind in Saybrook and pass on to the next Saybrugian, whether you are leaving for the summer, or leaving for a while in the graduating class,” Shen told the News. “It is like a community of our fervent wishes for each other in a way.”

As a soon-to-graduate senior, Taylor empathizes with the pressure cooker environment that Yale can be, but said that there is little feeling warmer than students taking care of one another. Saybrook Stones is a statement that both friends and strangers are capable of this caretaking, she said. 

The partitioning of the Memorial Quadrangle in 1933 led to the creation of the Saybrook and Branford residential colleges. 

Brian Zhang is Arts editor of the Yale Daily News and the third-year class president at Yale. Previously, he covered student life for the University desk. His writing can also be found in Insider Magazine, The Sacramento Bee, BrainPOP, New York Family and uInterview. Follow @briansnotebook on Instagram for more!