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Urban experiment shows Boston is a good place to be an optimist

Hundreds of Post-its at Boloco this month flaunted an attitudes of gratitude.

When it comes to having a "friendly reputation," people seem to have mixed opinions on whether Boston is chock-full of kindness.

In fact, Travel and Leisure Magazine announced last year that its readers ranked Boston one of the rudest cities in America.

That's cold, because as it turns out, the Hub has its fair share of friendly souls.

A recent experiment called "Project Gratitude" debunked the myth that the city is full of self-centered jerks.

A team of six interns at Mullen, a local advertising agency, spent the last few weeks offering up blank post its at three Boloco eateries, and dropping wallets around the city.

The result, they say, was encouraging.

"I wouldn't say that I am an overly pessimistic person but I was absolutely not expecting the reaction we have received thus far. I saw so much kindness over the past few weeks from the most unlikely people," said Willa Huizing, one of the minds behind the project.

Last week the team collected about 300 post-its at Bolocos and Mullen with random blurbs of gratitude thanking strangers for random acts of kindness.

"We all had an issue with the fact that if somebody does a good deed, most of the time it goes unnoticed," said intern Courtney Denning. "The post its were meant to celebrate these unheralded people."

The other aspect of the project was a little edgier.

The interns scoured their own drawers for old IDs and receipts, hoping to create convincing wallets to drop on the T and on random street corners.

In addition to the outdated, yet personal, information in the wallets, they had money, and another crucial element - contact information.

As of yesterday, 11 out of 20 wallets were returned, several within minutes of being dropped.

"It was astounding because we we’d drop one and five minutes later my cell phone would ring," Denning said. One homeless man even went so far as to use a pay phone to return the wallet.

The group is pushing awareness about the project on Facebook and Twitter, and hopes that if enough people see the good deeds of their fellow Bostonians, they will feel inspired to pay it forward.

 
 
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