After topping rude rankings, city fights back
After being called residents of the rudest city in Canada, Ottawans are lashing out — with random acts of kindness.
Today marks the start of Kindness Week in Ottawa and though organizers say the event is not a direct response to Reader’s Digest — which last fall proclaimed Ottawa the country’s rudest city after a secret survey — the press will be on from Feb. 15 to 24 to convince Ottawans to show their sunnier sides.
"It’s just little things that won’t cost anyone money, but they go a long way," said Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka, who started the Kind Ottawa movement. "We’re hoping to pave the streets with kind things that make any city a kind city."
Bulka said the kindness movement was already underway when Reader’s Digest published its survey on Ottawa. "It really hit a big need in the city," he said. "It reinforced everything we were saying."
The magazine’s survey devised everyday tests for Ottawans’ kindness — lost
cellphones, dropped papers, etc. — to see how passersby would respond to apparent need for help. Overall, they did not respond well.
But the coming week hopes to change that. Ottawa Police will be handing out "kindness citations" when they witness residents perform kind acts. The citations are redeemable for a free cookie at the Rideau Bakery.
Local restaurants will be distributing cards to people who do acts of kindness that can be logged on the kindottawa.ca website, making a map that pinpoints places where a kind act happened.
And later this week the Kindness Crew will tour Ottawa on a decked out OC Transpo bus, offering hugs, visiting seniors and stopping by a blood donor clinic.
The goal of Kindness Week, Bulka said, is to make people think about the little things they can do to make life a better for people in the city, like nodding hello, or holding an elevator.
"We’ve already mobilized a whole community and every component is involved," he said. "It’s impossible to fail. That said next year we hope to make it even bigger next year."