Act of Random Kindness (ARKs)

CBUS Dads blogger Matthew Barnes and his boys delivered Acts of Random Kindness in Downtown Columbus and Short North.

I try to set a good example with my boys by presenting them with opportunities for learning and moments for reflection. I want to show them what it means to be a good person and how to care for others by giving of your time and whatever extras you might have. Be that food, clothes, money, whatever. I want them to know that every little bit counts. I truly believe in the power of community and helping those in need. I also want my boys to grow up grateful for the opportunities and privileges they have.

On weekends when they’re with me, we plan a portion of our time to go out and make an ARK (Act of Random Kindness). This past weekend when I got them after school we sat around the kitchen island and wrote 60+ “nice notes”. Each note was inscribed with a heart felt compliment to another person. Things like, “you’re a gift to the world”, “The world loves you”, and “Stay awesome.”

When it was all said and done we stuffed our pockets with all the “nice notes”, harnessed up Harvey our scruffy pup, and headed out on the town. We walked from downtown to the Short North passing out our letters of encouragement to anyone willing to accept them. Which happened to be almost everyone. The boys were so poised and full of confidence. As a father, I was beaming with pride just to witness their actions. Each person that took a note quickly read it and graciously thanked the boys for it. On several occasions I watched people light up and walk away with more life in their step. I want my boys to know that with even simple acts of kindness you can change the course of someone’s day, that by being a force for good in this world you can spread the light into the hearts of everyone.

The boys handed notes to women wearing long fur coats and high heels, they handed them to popped collar college boys, to officers, to people holding signs asking for help, to people at tables inside restaurants. One of the street performers that my son handed a note to said that he would keep his letter forever. I watched a guy try to give my son a dollar for the note and my son told him that the money wasn’t necessary. They handed them to anyone willing to accept them without being selective. One thing I noticed about their interactions with the people on the street was that they didn’t choose any one style of person. They treated everyone equally with dutiful kindness and respect. I did my best to not over coach them and to keep a low profile. I wanted this to be their endeavor. And it was, fully and whole heartedly. They went out of their way to make sure that the people in their community felt welcome and appreciated. Which I believe to be a prevailing trend in the years ahead. On our way back we passed a handful of the people that were given notes, and their attitude was still noticeably uplifted. They remembered the boys and even reiterated their gratitude. Those two dudes are already at the forefront, setting an example of true leadership, backed by the service required to be seen as trustworthy and honest young men. I know they will take these moments with them for the rest of their lives, and I’m glad it’s happening right here in Columbus, Ohio.

When we got back to my apartment, we hovered over a hot bowl of steamed vegetables and some tortilla chips and shared our thoughts about the experience. Both boys echoed the sentiment that it made them feel “really good” to spread kindness.  We talked about how giving is really the true gift in all of it. We also talked about how when people reject their kindness, it has nothing to do with the person doing the giving, the other person just isn’t ready or willing to receive and that they are missing out on the gift of gratitude. We spoke about the cyclical nature of giving and receiving. When you give, it is a gift of joy for yourself and when you receive it is a moment for gratitude for the other. Both of which create love in your heart. The last thing we talked about before drifting off to sleep that night was how we wished there were more things like it happening in the world.

We’ll be sure to keep you all posted on our next adventure out. Perhaps you’ll join in on the fun!

Until then, may your Thanksgiving festivities be filled with joy and gratitude.

With love.

By Matthew Barnes, Contributor

Places We Love: Rockmill Brewery

CBUS Dads blogger Billy Fischer took his family to Rockmill Brewery.

Fresh brewed beer, beautiful scenery, a crackling fireplace, and a renovated barn that immediately makes you think “can I please live here.” That’s the best way
to sum up the incredible gem that is
Rockmill Brewery.


Rockmill Brewery is a 30 minute drive from Downtown Columbus and a great place to take the family. I took the trip with my family last weekend. Initially, I wasn’t so sure about lugging the kids to a brewery in the country. I’m glad that thought didn’t stop us from going, because it was great.

After digging through the online reviews, I learned a few key things that helped make our trip enjoyable:

  • Rockmill Brewery doesn’t serve food, so make sure you pack a meal, some good snacks and drinks for the kids. If you swing by Katzinger’s Deli and tell them y
    ou’re going to Rockmill, they’ll put together a cheese plate with beer cheese pairings.
  • There’s plenty of room to run around and play. Bring a football, soccer ball, ball and glove, etc.
  • If you prefer to just relax, bring a blanket and chill on the huge green space.
  • There are a few places to explore, take a small hike (perfect for the little ones) and just generally enjoy the beautiful property. Wear appropriate footwear. We failed on this one and my daughter Charlee pretty much trashed her Nike’s.
  • Rockmill Brewery is dog friendly. So, we took our dog!

The tasting room is an old barn that was turned into a home in the 70’s. There’s a bar, 2 large TV’s, multiple fireplaces and endless rooms with comfy seating to grab a spot and hang out. If sports bars aren’t your style, this would be an amazing place to watch a game. I’d recommend waiting for the first game day snowfall and heading to Rockmill Brewery (no kids this time).


Oh yeah, what about the beer?!

You can learn more about the Rockmill brews here. I sampled the Saison, Dubbel, Rugged Expanse and the Super Saison. Each beer was extremely unique, not your typical craft beer selection. I loved the Dubbel. An amazing dark beer with a maraschino cherry taste.

If you have the chance, take a trip to Rockmill Brewery. We had a blast!



By Billy Fischer, Contributor

A letter to my former self (and young entrepreneurs) after my first year of fatherhood.

CBUS Dads blogger Timothy Wolf Starr penned a letter to his son.

Timmy Tiptoes,

After nearly a year of fatherhood, I have gained. what I consider, a decent bit of insightful knowledge. Mostly, I have learned how little I know. But, I will share with you now, the pieces I think you will find most helpful.

First off, fall back in love with your family. Both blood and chosen ones. Those closest to you will want more time when you have less to share, but this is when you need them most. Remember, they mostly want time with your newborn, but also will miss you. There is no shame in taking a buddy you used to only see through a drunken haze and catching up over coffee.

Set expectations (and be honest in your ignorance) with your business partners, investors, employees, and clients. Most of them are looking for your guidance on this because although it might seem like an afterthought to you, it can be life changing for them. Everyone likes babies, not everyone loves surprises, especially when it effects their livelihood.

Be aware that some of your friends do not want kids. Some do not even care to see pictures of your kid. If they do, they will ask and if they don’t, it’s okay, take comfort in knowing they will still like you, despite your buybuy BABY meets Pinterest looking Facebook wall.

The entire idea of “sleeping when your dead” no longer applies. Is your baby here yet? No? Then sleep now! Sleep a lot. Even when you have to build a crib, go get ice cream and work an 80 hour week, you still have relatively limitless time for sleep, take advantage of it. I once read that insomnia is the feeling that you are never really asleep but never really awake either. I get that now.

Reevaluate your priorities. The half dozen boards you joined at 25 may no longer need you, and, really, you may no longer need them. Walker Evans taught me this a half decade ago but I was too naive to understand. You might need to step away to make room for family, but also to make room for the next 25 year old you to gain those experiences. My approach was slightly different: I just sat down each of my executive directors/board chairs and negotiated a new role where I could leverage my connections for the organizations without having the time commitment of monthly meetings. Regardless, make time. On a good day the most time you get with your kid is a few hours and you will have plenty of more necessary reasons to miss too many of those.

Do not fear dirty diapers. Poop, pee, vomit, and tears are not scary. The fear of them falling off the changing table is the really scary stuff.

Sick days will really throw off your plans, so get ahead when you can. No matter how great your daycare is (we have the best,) your kid will get sick often and that means that you and your partner need to be home with him. This is a good time to point out how lucky we are to have high-quality child care, because so many can’t. That being said, it does cause a change of plans. If I had the time, I would create a company where pediatric med students are available to hang out with your kid on sick days. The daycares could give out their info with the dreaded “pick up your kiddo” call. I have no doubt it would do quite well. Note to all other readers: please steal this idea. This, like many of my ventures, is really just something I want to exist.

Speaking of your little one getting sick, you, too, will get sick. When your sick child is awake at 4 a.m. crying for mama and the closest things you can provide (because mama hasn’t slept in days) are kisses and comfort, you will take his coughs to the face, every single one. You will then catch whatever insane bug he caught from daycare. As soon as he finally goes back to school, your face will break out with something called “hand, foot and mouth”. You will look like a monster for several weeks. Still, this is significantly better than him being sick because at least you can talk and bitch about it on social media.

Build a tee-pee. Kids love tee-pees. Also, build him a sensory board. In fact do whatever your partner wants you to do. Especially when they do most of the hard work- so if they want anything for your child, just do it.

Make time for you and help your partner make time for his or herself as well. I play music, go to concerts, and catch a movie here and there. She does book club, ladies nights and comedy shows. We make it work, we can do better, remember you can always do better.

You are not alone. Even if you are the first among your close friends to have a kid, you have plenty of great examples to lean on. You have mentors, family and clients that have been through this all before. You belong to a new fraternity now, one where oddly sleeping is not only understood but overcome. Remember, The Beatles had kids, Andre 3000 had a kid with Erykah Badu (that is awesome), and Jay-Z had a daughter with Beyonce. Listen to this song a lot. You can do this.

More than anything else, I hope that you have the support of a partner without whom you could not run your businesses, throw festivals, make music or write long winded LinkedIn letters to yourself.

Also, having a child really is the bee’s knees. I wrote this from 4-5 a.m. with my snoring son in my arms. As his first birthday approaches, I know whatever Grayson will be, he will be a good one.


Timothy Wolf Tiptoes


By Timothy Wolf Starr, Contributor

Downtown Dad

My pride and joy, Jaxon Attilio and Noah Henry. It has always been our focus to add as much culture to the boys lives as possible while guiding them towards their greatest interests and treating them as less experienced adults instead of like “children.” If there was one thing their mom and I definitely agreed upon it was how we wanted to raise the boys. We trusted each other as parents to make this happen. Now, as co-parents, nothing has changed. Our focus is still on adding as many enriching experiences and opportunities to their lives as we can. Now we just do it from different addresses.

I moved to Downtown Columbus about a month ago, physically. I’ve been downtown since I graduated college though. From the myriad of restaurants to parks and from all of the educational and cultural institutions to the great places to just lounge, I love seeking out all of the nooks and crannies of the city so that I can share them with others. I’ve scratched together a few start-ups, worked for some exceptional local companies, created artwork inspired by my surroundings, made some amazing life long friends, and had some worldly experiences all within the city walls of Columbus. In all honesty, I never thought this is where I’d end up spending the majority of my early working days. I didn’t feel like it had the potential nor the support for what it was I wanted to do. Instead of opting out and heading to NY or LA I decided to stay here and make it work. Although it’s not been easy, I’m proud and grateful to say that I have been witness to the expansive growth and cultural development of Columbus. Bringing up two boys during the renaissance of our city is nothing short of awesome.

Columbus, and Ohio in general, have produced some of the most exceptional human beings on the planet. From presidents to athletes, from artists to entrepreneurs, and from doctors to teachers, we have a rich history of educated and ambitious people. I want to make sure that my boys have the same access to opportunity and inspiration as all of our great representatives. Will they become members of such a distinguished crowd? That’s not up to me, that’s up to them. I just want to do my part as a father and make sure that the path in front of them is laden with keys to the future. I believe there is no better place to carve that path, than right here in Columbus, Ohio.

Be sure to check back soon and follow along on some of our great adventures.

By Matthew Barnes, Contributor