Reader's Digest has named the 10 finalists of its second annual search for The Nicest Place in America, a national crowd-sourced effort to uncover places where people are kind and treat each other with respect. In an era of cultural and political divides, "Nicest Places" is Reader's Digest's response.
The nationwide search received 450 submissions. The finalists were selected by Reader's Digest editors along with input from a panel of guest judges from partner organizations, including Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC's Good Morning America, and our own Randy Taran, CEO and founder of Project Happiness!
This year, Project Happiness is joining Reader's Digest in telling the stories of this special places, with CEO Randy Taran serving as a judge for the Nicest Places.
"It has been a pleasure working with Readers Digest. At Project Happiness we believe that kindness is worth celebrating, it's what brings us together and create strong community bonds. I can't wait to see who America decides is the Nicest Place in 2018!" says Randy.
Project Happiness spoke with Jeremy Greenfield on a global Facebook live in late May, to discuss how Nicest Places is changing the perspectives of American's on what matters most about where you live - the people, the community atmosphere, and the feeling of belonging! It reached over 20,000 people.
The ten finalists will appear in the November issue of the magazine, with one winning place to be featured in a cover story and on "Good Morning America."following this link, and voting closes on July 7th!
Here are the 10 Nicest Places in America:
Bothell, WA : In Bothell, every May 10 is "Cup of Kindness" day, when everyone is urged to share a good deed, a movement that was born from an unlikely friendship. The other 364 days are pretty special, too. How do you celebrate a birthday in Bothell? Well, if you're one local resident, you do it by collecting charity for those in the community who are less fortunate.
Ellijay, GA : Ellijay is the kind of town where locals make a seat at the table for you, whether they know you or not, and the infectious kindness of Ellijay makes it impossible not to be drawn in. Families stop into town for a day. Then for a vacation season. Then for a lifetime.
Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD : Come for the books, stay for the legal advice, job assistance, and other extras that make this public library system a haven in the heart of a troubled city. The Enoch Pratt Free Library is a place where lives are changed.
Kalamazoo, MI : The city has made a promise to all of its high-school students: If you get into a state college, it's paid for – as long as you keep your grades up. It's called The Kalamazoo Promise. After gun violence marred the city a few years back, the city gave itself a new motto as it supported survivors: "Kalamazoo Strong."
Katy, TX : Hurricane Harvey couldn't wash away the spirit of kindness in this Houston-area city—perhaps best exemplified by the owner of a fully stocked store awaiting its grand opening: he opened his doors and told first responders to come take what they needed.
Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, TX : Who says tough guys and gals don't do yoga? Drop into the Life Moves Yoga studio in Killeen, Texas, just outside the gates of the nation's largest army base at Fort Hood. There, you'll find a healthy home away from home geared to soldiers, including wounded warriors, and their spouses facing long separations due to deployments.
Mower County, MN : Paying it forward is a way of life in Mower County, where one small plumbing business, built from the ashes of tragedy, has changed the lives of so many folks in the area who just need a little help. Even in a state known for "Minnesota Nice," the people of Mower County stand out.
North Evergreen Street in Burbank, CA : Despite being smack-dab in the middle in one of the world's most populated areas, this tiny enclave feels like a small town. Neighbors look out for one another, locking each other's doors when one forgets, sharing vegetables from their gardens, and supporting each other in good times and bad.
North Riverside, IL : Is there a rule book for being nice? In North Riverside there is. The town has put together a 65-page manual on caring for each other that can be boiled down into one dictate: the Golden Rule.
Yassin's Falafel, Knoxville, TN : Syrian refugee Yassin Terou couldn't speak English when he arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee, seven years ago. Today, he is embraced by locals as a leader in the city for his charitable outreach, and his falafel restaurants are known as a safe place for all who enter.
"Out of all the vivid submissions crowd-sourced on our website, the judges found these 10 extraordinary," said Reader's Digest editor-in-chief Bruce Kelley.
"The picture the media presents today is that we're divided, but these stories exemplify the America that's too often ignored, where people trust their neighbors, welcome strangers, band together to overcome tragedy, and give others the dignity and respect they deserve. America is going to love hearing the stories of these places. They inspire us to be better for each other, every day."
About Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest, a Trusted Media Brands, Inc. brand, simplifies and enriches consumers' lives by discovering and expertly selecting the most interesting ideas, stories, experiences and products in health, home, family, food, finance and humor. Reader's Digest is available online at RD.com; in print; via digital download on iPad, mobile apps and tablets; and can be accessed via its social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.