Pete Miller: On a Mission of Kindness

February 5, 2016

Photo by Matt Cosby

Pete Miller and I met while waiting tables in York Harbor, Maine. After each shift, he would pull out his guitar and play for the waitstaff. Years later he is still sharing his positive, creative energy with the world. We chatted recently about kindness. 

ND: Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Pete Miller, I live in Scarborough, Maine. Between the hours of 9ish to 5ish, I am a Senior Art Director at the VIA Agency in Portland, ME. I work on a variety of projects including creating TV commercials, building websites and apps, creating billboards and print ads, and designing logos. Outside of these hours I like to surf and play music. I’m also a volunteer at Young Life leader in Gorham.

ND: You are involved with an app that I find really intriguing, The Good Fight. Tell us a little about the origins of the project and who’s been working on this with you.

About two years ago, Preble Street, a Portland-based resource center that works with the homeless, approached VIA. Mark Swan, the CEO, had noticed a lessening of kindness in our society and wanted to do something about it. A small group of us VIAns got together and started brainstorming. We wanted to figure out a way to communicate that kindness doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but can be something simple like holding a door for a stranger. So we created an app where kind acts are recorded, shared and meant to inspire others to join in. We wanted to turn kindness into a game – a beautiful game actually – where we challenge folks to be more kind.

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ND: Break it down for me: If I download the app right now, what am I supposed to do?

Get out there and be kind (and log it in, of course!) We’ve designed the app to be super simple. Do a kind act, press the big red “log it in” button and hit submit. That submit gets you one point for your hometown city that you’ve chosen to fight for and yourself. Get another point by sharing your kind act on Facebook.

ND: The app is “on a mission to find the kindest city in America.”  But it seems your hope is to encourage kindness.  How do you think The Good Fight will make a personor an entire citybecome more kind?

Kindness is infectious. When you experience it, your mood changes for the better. We want to create a movement where kindness is top of mind, incorporated in the daily lives of everyone. Kindness starts individually. We are challenging each and every person out there to be more kind. And, every kind act counts, big or small. The second part of the campaign draws on civic pride. Everyone who signs up for The Good Fight ‘fights’ for his or her hometown city. From there, we have cities competing against cities. Then, our hope, is we get our nation rallying around kindness. How amazing would it be if every city made it their goal to become the kindest city in America? It could be transformative.

ND: I’m always a little disappointed by the stereotype that New Englanders are less kind, or friendly, than those in other parts of the country. Do you think a city like Boston or Portland could redeem itself and its reputation?  Is it possible the kindest city in America is in the Northeast?

People do kind acts everyday. But a lot of the time, the unkind acts are the ones that make the news. Our goal is to highlight these kind acts and be a source of positivity. Everyone has the opportunity to be kind. And in the same way, every city has the chance to be the kindest. I’m pulling for my hometown, Portland, Maine.

ND: Could you share with us some of the kind acts you have become aware of since the app launched in November?

One feature we have on our app and website, thegoodfightchallenge.com, is the map of every kind act that has been logged in. It’s really cool to see the variety of kind acts that have taken place. It’s very inspiring. One in particular came from Monica in Concord: “I anonymously bought lunch at Subway for six military men. Cleared it with the manager and enjoyed watching their expressions of curiosity as they looked around trying to find someone to thank. It dug a hole in my wallet but I was more than happy to do it for them.”

ND: On our blog we love to support and showcase all things local.  So could you please tell me your favorite local:

Place to explore outdoors: Popham Beach

Spot to grab a coffee: So many good ones in Portland. But I’ll have to go with my old stand-by Arabica. Get the quad Americano. It’ll give you wings.

Go out for a meal:  Right now and probably for many years to come; Central Provisions.

Musician: Connor Garvey

Drivable day trip (and what would you do when you get there): I’d wake up real early, in the summer, drive up to West Central Franklin, ME and hike Tumbledown Mountain. An absolute spectacular hike.

ND: Finally, our favorite questions, what are you grateful for?

I’m so grateful for my wonderful family and their unending support.

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