You know that something special is about to happen when you arrive at Carlton Lund’s office for a meeting and find a sign welcoming you by name taped to the front door! Spending time with Lund, founder of the Kindness Meter Project, is like being wrapped in a big warm hug, the sort of hug you’d expect from someone who says he wants only one sentence engraved on his tombstone: “He was a kind man.”
There’s nothing disingenuous or phony about Lund’s desire to not only be kind himself, but to spread kindness throughout North County, San Diego and eventually around the world. And he’s doing it with parking meters.
Lund, who came to Carlsbad in 1972 from Wisconsin shortly after graduating from college, bought his first house the day he arrived and eventually he and his wife Sandy, opened up a successful real estate business. The Lund Team, which includes Carlton and Sandy’s two sons, has been one of the most successful real estate companies in North County for over 30 years.
Throughout the past three decades, the Lunds have focused on giving back to their community: Carlton and Sandy were voted Carlsbad’s Citizens of the Year in 2007; he supported and lobbied for the initiatives to bring Legoland to Carlsbad; he worked on establishing the desalination plant; he served on the boards of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation and the Carlsbad Educational Foundation; and he was the driving force behind a 14-year project to install a new Carlsbad sign on Carlsbad Boulevard (Highway 101), replacing the old one that had stood in the same location in the 1930s.
“I believe that people are kind and if you give them an opportunity to be kind, then they will,” is a sentiment Lund often expresses, and he’s proving that to be true: one meter at a time. A decade passed from the day he purchased an old parking meter at a garage sale to installing the first meter at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon trailhead, the goal being to raise money to benefit the Lagoon Foundation. That was in November 2015. Since then, meters have been installed at Wyland’s Laguna Beach gallery, in Vista at the Moonlight Amphitheater, in Hillcrest at the Deli Llama restaurant, at Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad, and outside his offices on Innovation Way. Over $7,000 (the meters accept coins and credit cards) has been collected from the meters so far, with the monies going to charities ranging from The Wyland Foundation and the Carlsbad Educational Foundation to Kids for Peace. The Deli Llama site is the most recent installation; the meter was dedicated one month after the Orlando shootings; monies raised will benefit the victims. “If there was ever a time when we need kindness, it’s now,” Lund says, when explaining why he chose that location. “There’s nothing political about kindness.”
In September, two meters will be installed at the Carlsbad sign. Monies collected from one of them will pay for sign maintenance and keeping the sign lit, while the other will benefit ten different charities on a rotating basis. “Someone puts in $5, they’ll be donating $.50 to ten charities,” Lund explains. Future plans include making the sign entirely solar-powered. A donation of only $.25 will keep the sign lit 24/7. “You can get involved for just a quarter.”
And what about the concept of spreading kindness throughout the world? “I want a kindness meter in front of every Starbucks, all 17,000 of them,” Lund says. “I’ve met with Howard Schultz, we’ve talked about it. It will happen.” When Carlton Lund says something will happen—you know that someday you’ll buy a latte at a Starbucks in Amsterdam, and on your way out—you’ll feed the meter. KindnessMeters.com