I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Today we are happy and excited to bring you a brand new story for:
¤ Spotlight Saturday ¤
“Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale“. –Frank McCourt
WILD DREAM WALKS
Today I had the privilege of speaking to my friend and one of our first under1000skies photographers and co-creators, Nicole Huguenin, Chief Dream Architect of Wild Dream Walks.
Wild Dream Walks began in 2015. This is from the “Founders” page on the Wild Dream Walks website,
Nicole Huguenin: A former high school teacher turned generosity entrepreneur. After a chance encounter and walk with a 72-year-old women, she founded Wild Dream Walks to bring more love and friendship to the world, on foot. She gifts most of her time and energy to individuals and organizations valuing people as their bottom line. In 2015, she committed to walking each day with a new person or group of people which resulted in 403 walks and a deep understanding of how connected we all are.
It was so great to get to talk to Nicole today. We shared space for months in 2015 as part of ServiceSpace.org‘s “Laddership Program.” Being accepted into the program and connecting to other ladders and Service-Space coordinators around the world was one of the most humbling, beautiful and amazing experiences of my life.
∞ Wild Dream Walks is an investment company.
Nicole now does the Laddership Newsletter for Service Space, as well as all the walking, mentoring and dream-building support for Wild Dream Walks. Her life, heart, and “heart song” as she calls Wild Dream Walks is all about service. This is one of the many reasons why I love and admire Nicole so much. Just by watching Nicole build Wild Dream Walks in the past two years, I have learned so much about the gift economy, service and living authentically and with “open-hearted vulnerability” as Brene’ Brown calls it, day after day. Nicole quite literally “walks the (wild dream) walk.”
Today Nicole explained how Wild Dream Walks works.
Wild Dreams Walks is an alternate investment community like The Pollination Project except, where they invest 1000 dollars, I invest hours, time skill and connections into everyday people’s dreams.
Our pricing structure allows those dreams to stay priceless.
I charge $0, and I ask everyone that I end up working with to decide the value and pay it forward in whatever currency works for them.
I asked Nicole for some examples:
So over past three years have or so I’ve had some people pay it “backwards” — to me. One lady for example paid me in a month of breakfasts.
She said, “I can’t do what you do, but what you do is important. So I thought, I will look at Nicole’s life and make it better. So I see you with bagel coffee every morning, and I knew right away how to make it better.”
So every morning for a month she made me delicious, high-protein vegan breakfasts!
“Wow! What a beautiful form of payment!” I said. Nicole agreed, then continued:
Some people pay money for my time. Some pay forward to others and also back to me by sharing their story. So they pay it forward in their dream or by providing space for another person to dream in their lives.
There have also been about a third of the people who have done nothing, but something that is interesting about this is that I need to add “yet.” Because what we do is not free, but it is freely given. So it takes the “tit-for-tat” transaction away.
Nicole went on to describe an example of this:
I had someone recently call me after three years and say, “I just wanted to let you know I finally found someone who really resonated with me and I was able to pay forward what you did for me.”
So even after three years, Nicole didn’t just chalk it off as an “unpaid account,” the way say a business would when a client defaults. She went on to explain how she thinks of the “currency” in the gift-economy.
I could have said, “Wow! I gave all that time, and that person didn’t value me! They didn’t pay it forward.” But I don’t do that. I talk about it with everyone, though, because it’s important. We talk about value, so it’s not this silent thing, and I trust it and I’m not going to find ways to distrust it. So to have that person come back after three years proves the point.
I agreed that absolutely it does. You just never know when a seed will bloom. Listening to Nicole, I realized at that moment that, from now on, this is exactly how I’m going to look at all my time investments.
I went on to ask Nicole how what a typical day looks like for her.
So on any given day, I’ve got maybe 10 or 15 folks or communities — people I am working with, walking with. I rarely tell these stories though, because I rarely have the time to tell these stories.
In 2015 alone, Nicole shared 403 walks — 403 stories to tell. I asked her what she thinks the total to date is and she replied with a laugh, “Oh, I’ve stopped counting.”
During our interview, Nicole was between two walks, and today in Denver it’s 95 degrees! I can understand now why she doesn’t have time to tell or write about the Wild Dream Walks stories. I told Nicole I was very excited to be part of the story-telling process today.
“Oh I love that you are doing this! One of the biggest ways to pay it forward and to help create these dreams is to tell stories. Then the dream has a life outside of me, outside of you.
A “Wild Dream” – “Chilis On Wheels”
Nicole went on:
Sometimes I get really deep into a project because it’s what is needed. Sometimes I just listen as a friend. Most of the time that’s what I do. Often I’m the first friend on the ground as this person with this dream that is bigger than they are is going through their inner and outer process. I just listen, share space. I’m building my community and connections, so I am more more able to invest in in their dreams. Sometimes I hear something I can give personally, and I contribute outwardly to do that. I probably spend most of my time on little projects like that.
Like for instance one of my dreamers is Chiles on Wheels, started by Michelle Carrera, Brooklyn, New York. Michelle called me a year ago and said,
“You won’t call me crazy, but I have a dream…”
From the “Dream” section on Wild Dream Walks about Chilis on Wheels:
Activists on Vacation Podcast
The dream is a mother and son duo podcast highlighting change-makers and their community based project around the world.
As an activist and change-maker myself, (founder of Chilis on Wheels, a mobile vegan soup kitchen) I am now drawn to have conversations with other change-makers and discover what makes a person devote their life to making the world better.
I need to purchase an RV or van to serve as our home and podcast studio for 3 to 6 months as we tour around the U.S. volunteering at different programs and interviewing the change makers.
Challenges include funds to acquire an RV (used, small).
Michelle Carrera, Brooklyn, New York
∞ We invest in dreams that are bigger than any one person and, If Brought to Reality, would do a lot of good in the world.
“Wow!” I said to Nicole. “I just committed to being fully vegan as soon as I learn how to make vegan food I don’t hate. I love this idea and I’d love to meet Michelle.”
I’d love to connect you. Michelle told me a year ago that the pace of New York City, being a single mom, was getting to her.
Michelle told me, “I’m going to buy a van, drive around and make as much vegan food as I can and give it to whoever needs it the most.”
That’s exactly what she does, but it’s a lot harder than she thought it would be. Every big city has a No-Camping Ordinance which means you can’t keep a van in one place for more than two days. It takes a couple of days to get people to trust you. So she is having to drive way more and almost spending the same amount on gas as she did for rent in New York City.
“So she lives in the van?” I asked.
“Yes. She and her son and dog are living in van, and she has a re-purposed kitchen. She’s been to Philly, Baltimore, New York…
“So — what — she just gives this vegan food away? For free?” I asked.
Yes she gives it away. Most of the time it’s to the homeless. So what we’re working on now is Michelle needs to have a connection team in each city. So if she goes to Boston, she’ll email the team member in Boston and say, “I’ll be in Boston on these dates.” And then the person will say, “Okay, I know this person who can help,” or “I can do research, look up homeless shelters.” So Michelle can show up and be introduced.
So one of the things I do with time is, for example, I had some extra miles so I flew out to spend three days with Michelle and her son. I said, “I”m here — put me to work! I’ll do whatever you need doing.” While I was there, she took me to all the vegan restaurants and I had the juiciest (no-meat) burger I ever had. She also made me this delicious all vegan chili-cheese mashed potatoes.
I told Nicole that I am really looking forward to meeting Michelle and her son and excited about their dream. There may be some way I can personally help where I live. I have to admit, I’d also love to try Michelle’s vegan chili.
∞ We might not always have money to invest but we do have other things that are just as valuable like: skills, ideas, support, friendship, mentorship and time.
∞ We’ve never met another human that doesn’t have some type of dream, big or small. thus we believe that dreamING IS priceless.
Whenever I talk to Nicole, I always notice what a gift she has for deep listening which has no doubt been honed over thousands of conversations since Wild Dream Walks began. When we speak, I feel deeply valued and understood.
So Nicole, thank you. You are one of my favorite folks in the world, one of my mentors and teachers, and my dear friend. You have been one of our co-creators and contributing photographers for under1000skies since Day 1. It’s hard to believe we haven’t met face-to-face (other than “FaceTime” and Skype) — but I hope we’ll get to remedy that this summer!
∞ “We are rooted in the power of paying-it-forward.” ∞
For more information about Wild Dream Walks and Nicole, to support one of many beautiful dreams.*
*Update 15 Oct 2020
Nicole has moved on from Wild Dream Walks. She can be found here on Instagram.
An Engraved Morning by Nicole Huguenin