Ben’s Bells Opens Shop Kind: Goods for Kindness, Throws Silent Auction at Celebration of Kindness

April 2, 2014

This is but one side of a tremendous Kindness mural that sits across the street from the new shop at 40 W. Broadway.

This is but one side of a tremendous Kindness mural that sits across just north of the new shop at 40 W. Broadway.

by James J. Jefferies

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” -Dalai Lama

Given our 21st-century mass-market culture, in which conspicuous consumption, Internet snark, and razor-sharp ripostes via Twitter seem to be the currency of the day, it almost seems a revolutionary act to simply espouse the virtues of kindness. For one woman in Tucson, it would become her life’s mission after being dealt an unspeakable blow by the fates twelve years ago.

Jeannette Maré faced the ultimate loss a parent can endure: the illness and sudden death of her son, Ben, just before his third birthday. In the process of dealing with the grief, she began making small ceramic wind chimes, solely for the purpose of hanging them to be found by others as a reminder to practice intentional kindness.

The new storefront, inside their Downtown studio, is quite charming and really has something for everyone.

The new storefront, inside their Downtown studio, is quite charming and really has something for everyone.

What began as a garage-based method of coping with her personal tragedy has sparked an inspirational phenomenon, as thousands have volunteered on behalf of Ben’s Bells to craft these colorful clay-and-string mementos to embracing our better angels.

Ben’s Bells first excursion beyond the garage opened within Main Gate Square in 2005, later followed by their studio inside the historic Charles O. Brown House at 40 W. Broadway. This location will now double as their brand new first-ever Shop Kind: Goods For Kindness storefront. “We have always had merchandise in the studios,” said Maré, “and we just wanted to have a place to support this value we think is important.”

The new shop is a very charming, rustic storefront, very much in tune with the colorful, handmade aesthetic of the chimes themselves, but features a wide array of goods such as prints, notecards, mugs, coasters, wall art, tote bags, onesies, T-shirts, trucker caps, mosaic stones, and so much more, all featuring the simple, powerful message, ‘BE KIND’.

Even more terrific is the source of all these items. “Ultimately, Ben’s Bells is all about connection. We love the idea of collaboration,” said Maré. Every item currently in the store is the work of local artisans, such as Bottle Rocket, Buffalo Nickels, Fed By Threads, Larry Hanelin, Pop Cycle/DDco, and many others.

All manner of goods bearing the simple message, 'BE KIND'. It's a welcome antidote to so much happening in our world.

All manner of goods bearing the simple message, ‘BE KIND’. It’s a welcome antidote to so much happening in our world.

This is very much a Tucson-based labor of love in every conceivable way, with proceeds going to Ben’s Bells’ spate of community educational programs that reach more than 100,000 students in over 150 schools here in the Old Pueblo alone. The goal of these programs is just taking the powerful, simple message of practicing intentional kindness to children.

The new storefront has more than that up its sleeve, though. On Saturday, April 12th, Ben’s Bells Downtown will be hosting their Celebration of Kindness, an event featuring live music, food, local craft brews and wine, a performance by Cirque Roots, and they will be having a silent auction that represents your only chance to purchase one of Ben’s Bells’ unique mosaic benches.

Given the inherent quality and striking color of the work displayed all over Tucson in the variety of Kindness murals installed throughout the city, it’s a chance to support a wonderful cause and possibly take home a terrific piece that would look amazing in any home. Tickets for the Celebration of Kindness are $60 in advance, and $75 day of the event. For more information on the new shop or the event, please check out Ben’s Bells.

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