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The Gnomist: A Great Big Beautiful Act of Kindness

In the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, a tiny door for a tiny gnome house quietly appeared in 2013. Others soon joined it along the Tomahawk Creek trail, in a place identified as “Firefly Forest” by a homey sign in front of the houses.

The tiny abodes—filled with breathtaking details like steaming tea kettles, tiny beds and traces of fairies—became a new source of light for some people who needed it the most. The forest became a refuge for adults and kids alike—people who had injured themselves, those who had a child die and to the woman behind it all.

Robyn Frampton created the forest as a way for her sons to cope with constant moves and a fresh divorce. She and her two sons would spend hours in their home creating the most detailed, life-like items for the forest. And in the dead of night, when everyone else was asleep, they would go out themselves, remodeling homes, creating new ones and making the forest just a little bit brighter.

Residents of Overland Park found a new magic in the world. They watched as new fairies moved in, complete with moving boxes labeled “Acorn Movers.” They witnessed the setting of a beautiful wedding, right in the forest. And they left notes, words of encouragement and letters to those that were no longer with them.

But like any fairy tale, there are forces working against the gnomes and fairies, and in 2014, the city asked for the forest to be removed. At the time, Frampton was set to move again to Utah and made a deal with the city to eliminate most of the doors, homes and other parts of the forest completely.

But the magic of Firefly Forest can never die. Residents began leaving their own mark: everything from birdhouses to small dolls to messages reminding everyone that the forest was still alive, and so was hope. In 2017, Frampton briefly returned to update and replace a few of the doors still there, something she says she had wanted to do for a long time. Because no matter what, you can never take the magic out of life.


Overland Park, KS, USA

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