Chalkboard quotes turn neighbors into friends
by Sara Mitton Cox, photography by Mark Dyrud
More than a year ago, Jennifer Jones-Easterday placed a chalkboard next to her new front door and was determined to share a quote a day. It was a time of change. Her family of four left their long-time home in West Boise for a smaller home in the North End. Jones-Easterday was determined to make the best of it.
Each day she searched through books and the internet to find an inspirational quote to write on the chalkboard. She hoped to bring some light to her family, the new house, and maybe anyone else who happened to walk by.
“We started to see more and more people stopping to read it. Cars slowing down when they drove by. I couldn’t believe how many people were excited to see what the quote would be that day,” said Jones-Easterday. “Sometimes the words make people laugh or really stop and think. I love how you can change someone’s perspective so quickly.”
Quotes like, “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor or be a fountain, not a drain” have adorned the little board. The 365th quote fell on Valentine’s Day. It was, “give away love and you’ll find your purpose.”
“People go out of their way to check it out. There are kids clustered around it in the mornings before school. People walking their dogs cross the street just to read it. It always gives people a smile,” says Amy Allgeyer, Jones-Easterday’s next door neighbor and friend.
The board has helped turn neighbors into friends for Jones-Easterday, her husband Brad, and their two girls Olivia, 7, and Zoe, 4. “So many people stop and visit because of the quotes,” explained Jones-Easterday. “They want to thank me for brightening their day.”
When she realized what a community mindset North End residents held, Jones-Easterday had another idea—Friend Friday. The two girls and their mom bake a special treat each Friday and deliver it to a neighbor they haven’t met.
“The girls absolutely love it. They feel great giving a gift for no reason,” said Jones-Easterday. “I want them to learn you don’t have to have lots of money to help others. Anyone can.”
That’s exactly what her chalkboard does each day. “My 93-year old neighbor across the street told me she once used my quotes at her Bible study. Apparently, she has rearranged her daily walking route so she can come by and write down the quotes,” Jones-Easterday said. “This is a lady I wouldn’t necessarily even cross paths with and then one day we were having bread and tea in my house.”
Now Jones-Easterday and her family host Sunday night dinners for the neighborhood. Families bring a dish to share with others, eat, and socialize. She even picks a theme for each dinner like “plaid” or “wear your favorite scarf.” Over 20 families have attended—many who had never met before the dinners.
The quote board has brought more to Jones-Easterday’s life than she ever could have imagined, especially a sense of community. She thinks back to the very first quote she wrote in chalk. “Grow where you are planted,” she recalled. Her family has done just that.
To see Jennifer Jones-Easterday’s quotes on the chalkboard each day follow @Chalkytalk on Instagram.