A rainbow in nature is formed when white light from the sun is split by raindrops into its various colors, which are redirected based on their different wavelengths.
At that point, everybody is pretty much doing their own thing, each one has its own angle, and it sure is beautiful — even stunning — to behold.
A Facebook group started by Kristyn Dayter of Scotia on March 18 had such an effect, serving as a prism for people to express their solidarity in facing the outbreak of COVID-19. And as Dayter has found out, a social media campaign addressing a global pandemic can itself become global in scope.
The original idea was to give out-of-school kids a fun reason to get outdoors, a neighborhood scavenger hunt for hand-made rainbow images that members of the Facebook group were posting at #518RainbowHunt.
“Obviously, it’s gone a little beyond that,” Dayter said on Tuesday afternoon, breaking into a laugh.
“We are worldwide now. There’s people in Italy, New Zealand, overseas in every direction, Australia. So it’s gone as far as it can, really. The last time I checked, we have over 110,000 members, and it’s going up every day.”
The 518 Rainbow Hunt may have gone about as far as it can geographically, but it continues to expand in ways that Dayter hadn’t envisioned a month ago when she borrowed a social media idea that was being employed in Italy.
Since then she has enlisted a platoon of 15 others to serve as a moderators, and the last line on the list of eight administrative rules on the page for members — totaling 110,785 as of midafternoon on Thursday — is “Kindness is required!”
Beyond the numbers, 518 Rainbow Hunt has partnered with the New York State Office of Mental Health; the restaurant Bowled in the Crosstown Plaza in Schenectady; and Lisa Mackey, the artist behind the paper-crafting business Chase & Main in Johnstown.
Through the Chase & Main account, Mackey is hosting a Facebook Live event at 10 a.m. on Saturday in which she’ll show kids how to make hand-crafted rainbow-themed greeting cards of encouragement to put in the mail to anyone they choose. Mackey has already mailed 150 kits out, but anyone can participate, and she has a list of supplies on the page for anyone who doesn’t have one of her kits.
The theme of the NYS Office of Mental Health’s campaign is “Hope is not Canceled,” and they have a printable image on their page of a state map in rainbow colors with side-by-side hashtags #NYHopeHunt and #518RainbowHunt.
“I thought that was kind of great to connect with their office, because there’s almost like a therapy with this,” Dayter said. “Something unknown can cause some anxieties, and I can definitely see how people who already suffer with anxiety could have heightened anxieties now.
“So we worked with them a little bit, which is really cool, but it really is good for mental health for people of all ages.”
Bowled, which features a variety of healthy ingredient combinations through salad and grain bowls and smoothies, teamed up with 518 Rainbow Hunt to create the #Fuelingthefrontlines Rainbowl Train bringing donated meals to health care and nursing home workers.
That synergy begat a fruit bowl of strawberries, orange sections, pineapple, kiwi and blueberries to form a rainbow. Dayter said they’re on their way to a target of $10,000 in donations toward this effort.
“I just keep on coming across different things that I want to make a part of our group,” she said.
Facebook has noticed.
The company is putting together an advertising campaign demonstrating the power of its platform to build community, and asked 518 Rainbow Hunt to submit content by the end of last week for possible inclusion.
In the meantime, the content and members keep rolling in.
Sometimes, the administrator just needs a break from looking at rainbows to — look at rainbows. Dayter and her husband and baby boy packed into the car Tuesday afternoon for a drive from Scotia to Niskayuna.
“I was like, ‘I have to get out of the house,’ because we’ve been sitting here for days,” she said. “Yesterday, it was rainy, so those days kind of wear on you, where you’re just sitting home doing not a lot and don’t have a regular routine.
“Once my husband got home from work, I was like, ‘Take me out.’ So we took a little drive-by to his parents’ house and looked at rainbows all along the way. It’s crazy. I thought my full bay window being full of paint was crazy, but there are some extreme rainbows out there.”
Based on the myriad creations, the limits of human imagination haven’t even been approached yet.
Whether it’s hand prints in paint, boxes of Girl Scout cookies, fruit bowls, flower arrangements, health care workers in multi-colored scrubs, pets, cake frosting, clothing on a laundry line, jelly beans, a decal on a garbage truck, track lighting on buildings at night … everybody’s got their own angle.
And the beauty of it, in this case, is everybody’s on the same wavelength.
“I thought we would get maybe a couple hundred people in Scotia, because that’s where I live and that would be cool. But …” Dayter said.
“There’s so many different ones and so many unique things that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love them all, I love that health care workers are getting involved and it really seems to support those health care workers and front-line workers. I had a nurse contact us and say that it was one of her saving graces, because she would get done working a 13-hour shift and just be exhausted mentally and physically, and she would drive past rainbows getting home, and it would be like a renewed hope, almost.
“She could just see everybody rallying, you know?”