Rifle initiative urges people to smile more at each other | PostIndependent.com

Rifle initiative urges people to smile more at each other

A new Rifle city initiative is working to bring out more smiles and friendly waves to people on the street, especially as pandemic and political pressures seem to be having a negative impact on the community.

To help encourage a return to more civil human behavior, the city has organized the new Rifle Humanity Restoration Crew, and is urging other organizations to adopt the motto, “Reconnecting People, One Wave at a Time.”

Rifle City Manager Scott Hahn says he has watched with disappointment as human interaction has slowly diminished over the past few years.

“Electronics, busy lifestyles and now COVID-19 have reduced once-friendly strangers to people who barely acknowledge one another as they pass on the street,” he said in a news release announcing the campaign.

“People are thirsty for contact. How can you be a community if you don’t look at one another?”Scott HahnRifle city manager

Hahn said he just wants to see people smile more … “And wave. And say “hello.”

So, he created the Humanity Restoration Crew, whose mission it is to “spread kindness, friendliness and get people to acknowledge one another once again.”

“People are thirsty for contact,” Hahn said. “How can you be a community if you don’t look at one another?”

The campaign includes signs and buttons around town featuring a happy face and positive messages.

“Members of the crew, as well as all city employees, are leading by example,” he said.

Some suggest that the idea is a “tad corny,” Hahn said. But the team has embraced it, and virtually everyone they’ve spoken with about it wants to be a part of a positive movement, he said.

“They roll their eyes at first, then tell us they love the idea and ask how they can become involved,” the news release noted of the team’s reception. “Everyone is really feeling the disconnect and divisiveness so prevalent these days.”

Hahn and the team members point to an article posted earlier this month on bbc.com titled “The Surprising Benefits of Talking to Strangers,” which explored in detail the positive psychological, sociological and even physiological effects of human interaction. It can be found at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-48459940

To spread the message and get people to laugh, the city has also created a video designed to “embrace the silly,” and help people reconnect.

Check out the video at http://www.rifleco.org/wave or the “Visit Rifle” YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/pWGkvpI3UZw.

The crew is also challenging other communities, schools and businesses to join the movement, and to “bring ‘friendly’ back.”

The public is invited to send thoughts, videos and pictures to humanityrestorationcrew@rifleco.org, or use #humanityrestorationcrew on social media.

Rifle residents and businesses can also request a yard sign and some buttons to hand out. Contact Kim Burner at kburner@rifleco.org or call 970-665-6496 for more information.

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