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City planners have to constantly think about flow. How will cars get through this intersection? When a faucet is opened, will water comes out? Carlton Lund is a citizen city planner. When he thinks about flow, it is social construct and he wants to stop conventional flow new, higher streams of living. His design is to make a coastal corridor of kindness. How do you make kindness part of Carlsbad’s infrastructure? And then how do you measure its progress? Kindness meters were Lund’s answer, and it all started with a sign.


Lund was one of the drivers behind Carlsbad’s archway sign, and he wanted to keep the sign’s welcoming light on all night without charging the taxpayers. He knew some would want to contribute, but how could people fund it willingly? Out of the kindness of their hearts. The original meter was planned to be at the sign.


But why stop there? What if, Lund thought, Carlsbad became “the kindest city in America?” There are now eight kindness meters, with more in the works. Or, more to the point, the public is asking for more.

Kindness meters look like parking meters. They are solar powered. What you get, as Lund puts it, is “skin in the game, for as little as a quarter or as much as $999 by credit card.” The money goes to a designated charity.

For instance, the money from the meter at the Discovery Center goes to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation. At Top Top Meats, the beneficiaries are the Carlsbad Educational Foundation and the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation. At the Bressi Ranch Boys & Girls Club it goes to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. Vista has one at its civic center, with the money earmarked for the Moonlighting Cultural Foundation.

You can find kindness meters by looking for Darlene the Dolphin, created by world-class environmental artist Wyland. As dolphins are the kindness keepers of the sea, it seemed a good brand for the “Kindness Korridor” along the coast. Laguna Beach has a kindness meter at the Wyland Gallery and the money goes to the Wyland Foundation, which educates people on the importance of clean and healthy oceans.

Giving back or paying it forward in dollars is not all Lund had in mind. The meters make people stop and think about kindness. And kindness shouldn’t be random; it should be habitual. Lund is hoping the meters are a stimulus-response mechanism that helps form this habit. In a polarized world, kindness, as Lund says, “is nondenominational.” It is nonpolitical. It is a universal language. He thinks that is why “the reception has been phenomenal.” It’s simple. “Forrest Gump is my hero,” Lund says. “Simple is best.”

Expect the movement to spread outside the immediate Carlsbad area. A traveling kindness meter was made in partnership with Kids for Peace and is currently stationed in front of The Lund Team office. The Kids for Peace motto is “Kindness Matters,” so the partnership was a given. It is used for the group’s Kindness Challenge events.

Lund wants to make Carlsbad the capital of kindness. In a city known for its sunny people, kindness should be as easy as flipping a switch or turning on the tap. As Lund says, “Everyone can generate kindness.” In a selfish world we need to be reminded that we really are hardwired to help each other. The human species reacts well to kindness. The object of kindness gets gratefulness for the exchange. The giver gets joy.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi