When freezing temperatures shut down the state of Texas two weeks ago, my friend Lisa discovered that when you offer beauty and random acts of kindness in hard times, people give back.
Because Lisa has a full-time job, she was able to move to a hotel when the power went out in her Dallas home. A couple of days later, she learned that another couple staying at the hotel needed to get to the airport and hadn’t been able to find a taxi. Lisa offered to drive them. When they arrived at the airport, the couple insisted on giving her $20 to pay for the gas. Next Lisa drove to the supermarket to pick up a few things to take back to her hotel room. Standing in the check-out line, she impetuously gave the $20 gift to the family ahead of her. They then insisted on buying her a cup of coffee and a doughnut in the store’s coffee shop.
This is “paying it forward” exemplified!
When hard times hit and your whole environment is a wounded place, it may be premature to think right away about making gifts of beauty for the place itself. As the immediate aftershocks of the crisis settle, we can begin to think about RadJoy’s signature practice of creating beauty for neighborhoods, trees, and lands. In the beginning, it’s often other living beings who most need our acts of beauty.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.