Walls of Kindness

A Wall that Unites

People typically build walls to separate. But in late 2015 a few enterprising ambassadors of kindness built a new kind of wall–one that brings people together. They are “Walls of Kindness.” The first reported Wall of Kindness was constructed in December 2015 in Mashhad, Iran(1). The idea has since spread to dozens of other countries.

The idea is simple. Someone finds a suitable wall in the community, decorates it, puts up a few hooks, and then puts up a sign that says, “If you don’t need it, leave it. If you need it, take it.”(1) Next the builders post about the wall on Facebook and Twitter, informing the community about the new wall. People in the community then begin to leave their unneeded clothing, food, shoes, and other items. People in the community who need it, take it.

Even though it started in the Middle East, Walls of Kindness can benefit the community in any region. Even though the walls have nothing to do with Islam or Christianity or Judaism, almost all religions can support them. Even though Walls of Kindness are not linked to any political movement or ideology, it is an idea that almost all political groups can support.

Perhaps the Best Community-Driven Idea since Suspended Coffee

Like Suspended Coffee, Walls of Kindness are a direct grassroots community-oriented charity. Literally, the only intermediary between donor and recipient is a wall. Members of the community can put items on the wall that they no longer need. People in need in the community, can then simply take them.

Like Suspended Coffee, this new charity has also also evolved similar community-based spin-offs, like open refrigerators, where people can simply leave food for the hungry. While initially designed to provide warm clothes to help less fortunate Iranians survive the harsh winter(1), wall gifts now include shoes, food, books, toys and other sundry items.

Walls of Kindness are Local, but quickly Becoming Global

Walls of Kindness are a perfect local effort. People in the community put up the wall. People in the community donate items on the wall. People in the community receive the items. Everything stays in the community.

Yet, the idea has become so popular it is quickly becoming a global movement. Walls are prominent in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Greece, Iraq. Greece in particular has embraced this idea. Embroiled in an economic crisis many Greeks are turning to more basic community oriented support systems like Suspended Coffee and Walls of Kindness. A few walls have even been set up in the USA, Spain, France and Italy.(2)

Initial reports suggest this idea has been very successful. The walls have not become magnets for terrorists and crime. The fridges are still intact are stocked with food. Recipients seem to be taking only what they need. Even in Kabul, Afghanistan, a wall which initially met with resistance due to security concerns is still thriving.(4)

A few minor issues have arisen. The wall in Kabul remained bare until the wall’s creators went out into the community asking for donations. There were a couple walls which local Chinese governments in Kunming and Zhanjiang reportedly had to shut down, because too many donations had turned the walls into giant mountains of kindness. (6) Such issues can be resolved by adding a few basic conditions. For example, if the hooks or hangers are full, request donors return later. Overall, though, the walls are an amazing global success, and growing.

Be a part of the best idea since Suspended Coffee by sharing this idea on social media and maybe even setting up a #WallofKindness in your community.

1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/14/irans-walls-of-kindness-offer-help-to-the-homeless
2. http://articles.philly.com/2016-04-11/news/72212972_1_greece-greeks-racks
3. http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/22/middleeast/walls-of-kindness-iran/
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/world/asia/afghanistan-wall-of-kindness.html
5. http://en.iranwire.com/features/6994/
6. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/1913459/chinas-walls-kindness-quickly-become-mountains-rejects