For the past eight years, I have bore witness to what happens when we speak our dreams outloud. In August 2012, my life was at a turning point.
Five years of intense healing and growth following the bridge collapse had opened me enough to live my best life.
That summer, I had applied to (what I thought was) my dream job at another organization. While I waited for the call to an interview, I dreamed and schemed about what I could do there. It turned out I was dreaming up Courageous heARTS.
When I didn’t get the interview for that job I thought I was destined for, I turned to the internet. Someone, somewhere said that we have to speak our dreams out loud so they can be made real. So, I started a Tumblr blog. (As one did back in 2012.)
My posts led to conversations - with the business owners who hosted my wedding reception, with the CEO of the largest nonprofit in MN, with nonprofits in other states. Those conversations led to action - First a business plan, then a trip to California, then a fiscal sponsorship, and eventually a building.
Once I spoke my dream out loud, the stars started to align and it seemed like all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other. My husband would argue that I put in A LOT of hard work between those steps.
It’s true - but inspired action doesn’t feel that hard.
During that first year, magical moments continued to pile up:
• The very first grant I wrote was a success;
• This kid named Larry showed up and (lucky for me) never left;
• Larry introduced me to some of his friends, who turned the me into we by becoming our first Youth Advisory Board;
• There was a strange and wonderful series of events that led to the subject of an Academy Award winning film coming to Minneapolis to help launch our efforts with a public screening;
• And another strange and wonderful series of events that led to us having a billboard and video about graffiti and public art.
Magic moments have continued to fuel our engine since then: the right person, thing, partnership or donation showing up at just the right time. To be clear: Those magic moments were you.
Between those moments, there was also a lot of hard. Getting paid to do this work became an unexpected obstacle that led to years of side gigs and being stretched too thin. That first successful grant was followed by a lot of rejection - we were: too new, unproven, too risky, not staffed “right.” And we often struggled to fit into boxes that weren’t ready to hold us.
Despite the hard stuff, magic continued to show up at pivotal moments and felt like nudges from the universe to keep going. When COVID-19 hit and the world shut down, I persisted through the fear and uncertainty and hoped for another nudge that said keep going. When George Floyd was murdered, however, I got clear that as a white leader I needed to step back and make more space for others to step forward.
Under a different set of circumstances, I would have resigned and we would have looked for a new leader. Unfortunately, the reality is no one would do what I’ve been doing for what I get paid. I’ve often called this work a labor of love, and just like parenthood, it’s been largely an unpaid labor.
Because of these factors, and with my support, our board of directors recently passed a resolution to move forward with formal closure of the organization.
I want to be clear that our closure is not the end of what Courageous heARTS is – because heARTS is an idea and a way of being that can live on in each of you. We offered a space where:
• You didn’t need to be “good at art” to make art: Keep making art - especially if you don’t think you are good at it. Encourage others to do the same.
• Creativity and courage were synonymous: Think in new ways and have the courage to be different.
• Rules weren’t as important as values: Question the rules - live into your values.
• Young people were the copilots and collaboration was key. Be curious enough to look at things from another perspective. Listen to all the voices in the room. Get out of the way sometimes.
• No one was an expert, and everyone had something to teach. Be generous with what you know, and humble enough to learn from others (even if they are younger than you).
• Circles helped us build relationships. Get to know each other.
• Boxes were only good for cutting up. Stop trying to fit into boxes and instead let yourself flow like paint.
Over the coming weeks, we will be closing down the studio and making plans for a healthy distant goodbye gathering. If you would like to help, please visit www.courageous-hearts.org for details and updates.
It has been one of my greatest joys watching this dream come to life and meeting all the people along the way who have been our magic makers. There aren’t enough words in the English language to express my gratitude.
Keep being the magic that helps dreams come true.
Lindsay Walz, M.Ed.
Courageous heARTS Founder