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Sisters plan Be Kind walk in Yountville

Ruby Finkelstein (left), 7, and her 9-year-old sister Talulah are organizing the Be Kind Napa march and celebration in Yountville on July 29.

Talulah and Ruby Finkelstein plan a march without megaphones, slogans or shouting – only a call to people of the Napa Valley, simple to understand yet often difficult to carry out.

As the grade-school sisters from Napa lead their supporters from Yountville’s Veterans Memorial Park through the town and up toward the Napa Valley Museum on the morning of July 29, their mission will be captured in the message on the red buttons they, their friends and other participants will wear: BE KIND.

No protests are planned, no politics, no shouts of anger or attack. Instead, Talulah and Ruby hope their brainchild, Be Kind Napa, becomes an annual event that can lead Napans to greater friendliness, community spirit and goodwill.

“I just felt like it was great idea that people should be more kind to each other in the world, because it made me happy,” Talulah, 9, said. “I hope that if they’re mean to someone and say ‘Oh, I spoke disrespectfully,’ I can be kinder the next time,” added Ruby, Talulah’s 7-year-old sibling.

Family members describe Be Kind Napa as an echo of a button-wearing campaign started by the New York City-based rabbi Laurie Phillips, a friend of the Finkelsteins. On a March visit, they observed Phillips wearing the red buttons as a conversation starter for strangers she met in the city – strangers who would receive the buttons as gifts and be encouraged to do the same for others they, in turn, would meet.

“When (Phillips) handed the buttons to people, I really thought that was awesome and it got me excited about the idea,” Talulah recalled.

The idea of a simple gesture to break down isolation and make people more mindful of one other lingered even as the family returned home, remembered Judd Finkelstein.

“We talked it over quite a bit, talked for several hours over several family dinners to hatch the idea,” said Finkelstein, who with his wife Holly is a second-generation owner of the Judd’s Hill winery north of Napa. “It’s not about Holly and me; we were there to listen to the girls’ ideas, to talk about what might work. It’s definitely kid-started and kid-driven.”

Accompanying the “Be Kind” buttons will be an array of posters and signs bearing similar messages of acceptance and compassion, which participants will be invited to create at a pre-march event July 27 at Judd’s Hill winery at 2332 Silverado Trail.

Walkers will begin assembling at 9:30 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, at California Drive and Washington Street. The march is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and follow a path through Yountville and then west to the Napa Valley Museum at 55 Presidents Circle for an hour.

Following the walk, museum will host a Kindness Convention where guests can create art pieces for a future museum tableau named the Kindness Collage, which will express what empathy does for individuals and their community. Ice cream, cookies and various family activities will be available at the reception.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.