I spent some quality time this weekend with my nieces Jordan and Peyton. We started with breakfast, spent an hour shopping for books, and then ended our special time with a movie…Tomorrowland. Peyton, age 7, said it was great. Seventeen-year-old Jordan said her little sister considers all movies “great” and then said the film was clearly propaganda. The good kind. The message, she said, was humans need to change and save the world before it ends up hurting us like we are hurting it. And optimism can always triumph over pessimism and nihilism.
I sat through most of the movie wondering when it would be over. The plot wasn’t clear. The acting wasn’t compelling. And the pacing was slow. But I was happy to be there with the girls so none of those things really mattered.
Towards the end of the film, one line caught my attention, “Dreamers need to stick together.” I’m not too sure which character said it. And I don’t know why it resonated with me. But I wrote it down and didn’t think about it again. That is, not until the next day.
The next day, I attended a special graduation ceremony at UC Riverside. I always look forward to the inspirational messages that are delivered as new graduates celebrate this milestone and prepare for the future. During his keynote address, Dr. Kendrick Davis, Director of Medical Education at the UCR School of Medicine passionately conveyed to the graduating class, “to be rooted in excellence, you must make a commitment to be a dreamer.”
“You must surround yourself with other dreamers as well as people who are living your dream,” he said.
More talk of dreamers and dreaming.
Then I flashed back to the movie Tomorrowland and the line I scribbled on the back of a receipt, “Dreamers need to stick together.” Even though Dr. Davis was speaking specifically of personal excellence and professional goals, I couldn’t help but think about the collective community dreams and civic dreamers I spend so much of my time talking to and writing about each week. People like Collette Lee in Riverside who I had coffee with just the day before, who is leading the community effort to bring the arts back into the lives of children through the Riverside Arts Academy.
As part of her commitment to helping create a better quality of life for the entire community, she has assembled a group of other dreamers with the same belief. The group meets monthly not simply as a support group for the city staff charged with running the arts program, but as a group of active working professionals with expertise in arts education, marketing, fundraising, and others who believe in the transformative nature of the arts. Collette has led a solicitation effort that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the program. She has convinced professors and administrators from our local colleges and universities to participate as partners. Those efforts have added a diversity of courses and institutional funding support to create a more sustainable program.
She’s a dreamer who has a vision for a brighter future…not just for herself or her grandchildren, but all the children in the city. She is recruiting and building a team of others who also understand that dreamers need to work together. Later this afternoon, the Riverside City Council should vote to further financially support the Riverside Arts Academy, which is important since the summer class schedule started this week.
At the graduation ceremony Dr. Davis concluded his thoughts on dreamers, “Connect your dreams to the future you want for your future self.” It took me back to the movie and to my conversation with Collette just a few days earlier. That’s all this region really needs to thrive…a few more dreamers sticking with other dreamers…who dream of a better quality of life for us all.