The extraordinary story behind Portland Rooster — a pay it forward movement in motion

3 min readJun 1, 2016


This is the story of a group of friends setting out to change the world , one act of kindness at a time, and how their movement spread like wildfire around Portland. Read on.

Every pin represents a member of Portland Rooster

Hi Portland! I’m Tali. My life has completely turned upside down by the kindness of many, many strangers. I want to tell you my story….

My friends and I spent a lot of time thinking about how distant we have become as a society. It’s making us lonely, and sad, and it feels like we can’t trust anyone, and like we don’t belong anywhere anymore.

Things don’t have to be this way. It’s not natural. When we look at the people around us we realize people are great! People are wonderful! They are kind, thoughtful, helpful… they are amazing! People used to live in communities where they could support and rely on one another as a tribe — so we know: it can be done. Belonging, taking a part in something, knowing we’ve helped someone else — those are the things that matter in life. Those are things that make us happy.

We decided to do something. We built a website called “Rooster — the pay it forward movement”. It is a place where neighbors help, borrow, swap and share with one another totally for free. There is no money on Rooster, only gratitude. When someone does something nice for you, you simply say “thank you” and then pay it forward to someone else when you can. Simple, right? We never expected what was going to happen once starting it in Portland.

The folks behind Rooster — left to right: David, Henry, Rishi, Tali, Gil and Zory

Since the very first day we have been *** blown away *** by the response. One friend invited another, people started discussing Rooster over social media, before we knew it thousands of people were participating. TV and newspapers started covering everything that was happening…. (KGW ‘live at 7’, KOIN6, Portland Monthly, KATU2, The Oregonian, KGW environment, KXL Radio… and a few others) By now 25,000 (!!!) individuals have joined Rooster and they amaze us with their kindness — kids are shedding tears of joy as they receive used toys from neighbors, people get together for potluck dinners, moms are exchanging kids clothes, injured folks have received crutches and wheelchairs when they needed them most, one neighbor helped rescue a drone that was stuck in a tree, folks are arranging car pools and poetry nights, broke students get help furnishing their apartments and the list goes on and on. Over 1,000 acts of kindness are carried out every month through Portland Rooster.

And the magic? No deed is too small. A tiny favor is enough to make a person smile and restore their faith in people around them, causing them to do something nice for someone else — we see these things happen EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And now you know too. Let’s continue to do this.

We are amazed by the people of Portland, you make the sleepless nights all worth it. We’ve started something really special together, an want you to know we are now *flooded* by requests from all over the nation — by now more than 500 cities and towns have reached out to us, wanting to start their own Rooster communities. Some have already gathered hundreds of people to support starting it. We’re a small team, but we have a big dream. And more importantly — Portland has given us the belief that it can be done. That we’re not crazy to believe in it, and that many, many people out there are just like us. We love you Portland, let’s continue to set an example for everyone, everywhere.

Tali & Team Rooster

Link to join Portland Rooster:

The video was shared over Portland’s social media