North Loop Man On A Mission To Spread Kindness
In his former life as a real estate agent, Josh Neumann was focused on getting people into their desired neighborhoods. These days, he’s focused on making those neighborhoods as friendly as they can be.
This month, he’s been placing sidewalk stickers around the North Loop (and soon to extend to other parts of Minneapolis) with four simple words: “Be Kind, Say Hi.”
“I say ‘hi’ to probably 80% of everyone I see,” he said, “and I think not half of those people actually say ‘hi’ back. I know they’re in their own space, they’re either listening to music or they’re not looking or they’re not expecting somebody to say ‘hi’. I care so much about this city and I was like, how could I create more of a friendly vibe?”
The promotion of kindness was already a big part of his life. In 2017, he formed a lip balm company, Kind Lips. The concept is that each time someone applies his lip balm, they’ll be reminded to speak kind words. He says 20% of his profits go to anti-bullying programs.
He recently took his sticker idea to real estate friends Joe Grunnet of DRG, as well as Kevin Mullen and Ben Ganje of Sotheby’s who all donated generously to get stacks of stickers printed up, while lululemon also donated t-shirts with the same message on them.
His friend, Ericka Jones, who’s a board member with the North Loop Neighborhood Association, connected him with council member Michael Rainville, who bought a supply of Kind Lips to spread around City Hall.
“It’s the start of something,” said Jones. “It’s kind of like the book The Tipping Point. Start with something small and then something big will transform. The North Loop is a centric hub to so many different things. We get a lot of visitors and we want people to say, ‘hey I went to Minneapolis, I was in the North Loop and everyone’s friendly. They’re kind.’”
“We’re just trying to create community,” said Neumann, who’s lived in the North Loop nearly 20 years. “It’s just, what does a ‘hi’ turn into? Hopefully it turns into, you say ‘hi’ and then the next time you say it, you get their name and the next thing you know you’re having a drink or doing some sort of progressive dinner with them. It just really is to build community.”
The sidewalk stickers include a QR code for more information about the mission.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer