BIG Dream Gathering / by Liz Brown

Drake’s campus was beginning to look like fall, but it definitively still felt like summer, despite the leaves beginning to scatter across the lawns. On the walk from the parking lot to the Olmsted Building, the sidewalk was decorated with chalked phrases like: “take it day by day” and “you can do this!”

You can do this. If one phrase summed up the evening, it would be that: you can do this. But: you don’t have to do this alone.

Rounding the corner, the Olmstead Building looked like any other building on any Midwestern college campus, but on the second floor, volunteers were busy stacking free books, arranging name tags, and sticking blue pieces of tape to the walls. BIG Dream Gathering founder Mitch gathered the group of Drake staff, local dreamers, and friends around into a circle. There’s been so much turmoil in the world, even within the last few days; it’s easy to dwell on the bad news and forget the existence of anything else. Mitch looked at the circle of eager faces and smiled: “We get to be part of the good news tonight.”

Less than an hour later, students and Des Moines locals began walking up the stairs into the foyer, then found seats around tables and next to strangers. Even before anyone spoke or gave instructions, folks excitedly jumped right in, writing their dreams onto the sheets of paper arranged around the room, and taping them to the walls, under different dream categories, like travel, career, and government.

Chrystal Stanley

Chrystal Stanley

At 6:30 Chrystal, a Drake employee whose job it is to help students figure out their dreams and take step to achieve them, introduced Mitch. He had several encouragements for the room of dreamers. Give yourself permission to dream, he urged them. And choose to diminish your fear by even 10%. Just see what you can accomplish!

Then began the challenge and the dreaming: write down your dream on a piece of paper and stick it to the wall. Students could write one dreams or dozens; then they would wander the room, writing notes of encouragement and ways they can help make the other people’s dreams happen on the bottoms of the colorful papers. the room transformed from a rather normal beige space to something of an art project: all paper and blue tape and big dreams.

The evening ended quite like how it began: volunteers cleaning up, students walking back to their dorms and other folks walking back to their cars. The music didn't stop, however, and you could hear it as you walked through the doors back to the street. It lingered, like the dreams now beginning to take hold inside of minds and on those colorful papers clutched in hands. Dreams were spoken, started, created. That alone is an act of bravery: dreaming. Dream big. You can do this. We can do this together.