In October 2013, a mysterious billboard appeared in Flint, Michigan. It read “I’m concerned about the blueberries” in simple text. No images. No attribution. Just the sentiment.
The state’s blueberry grower’s groups had no idea what it was about and assured everyone their blueberry crops were fine. The owner of the billboard wasn’t talking. No one knew what it meant, but it went viral as people tried guessing.
A few days later, local businessman Phil Shaltz admitted it was him and, really, it wasn’t about the fruit. Instead, he wanted to get people thinking bigger.
He got the idea while on vacation in Alaska. His group’s guide was a 21 year old man. Healthy, energetic, but also pensive. This threw the tour group for a loop because he seemed to be the kind of guy who had it all.
“I’m concerned about the blueberries this year,” said their guide. “Not enough rain.”
This guy didn’t own a blueberry farm. Other than as a tasty snack, the blueberry crop wasn’t going to directly affect him. Still, he was concerned for the berries and their growers.
This inspired Shaltz to get people to be concerned about others as well, to get them thinking about “other people’s blueberries” and a mysterious billboard was his way of getting people talking. And, if they were talking about it, maybe they’d be inspired to be concerned for others and spread caring through the community.
The doesn’t end there. The next year, Shaltz started the I’m Concerned About the Blueberries program in Flint encouraging young people to perform random acts of kindness. He donates to schools and awards scholarships.
Question of the night–what’s one of the most memorable random act of kindness someone performed for you?