Gamelatron: Pendopo at the End of the Universe, photo credit: Aaron Taylor Kuffner

Last week I came across three inspiring stories. Each engendered a sense of wonder and possibility. They also reminded me that imagination, although imperative, is not enough. Resources and community provide the wings that allow imagination to get off the ground.

The first was the story of Amy Purdy, who tragically lost her legs due to complications following a bout of Bacterial Meningitis. Amy went on to not only recover, but become a championship snowboarder, motivational speaker and advocate for other atheletes with adaptive needs. Her indomitable spirit allowed her to see her challenges as opportunities for creativity.

Patrick Henry Hughes was born blind and with a medical condition that keeps his limbs from straightening out. He was also born with an amazing recall for and love of music that his parents recognized at an early age. With his parents' supposrt, Patrick leaned into his music, and when he headed to college, was given an opportunity to participate in the marching band - his father powering his wheelchair, keeping him "in step" while Hughes' trumpet sounds clearly.

And over at NPR, there was a feature on The Music Box, a ramshackle group of structures, that whimsically and innovatively play music, all built from the remains of a house decimated by the aftermath of Katrina. There's Heartbeat House, a Singing Wall, and a Water Organ, to name a few. One of the artists explains what drives the project. "I would hate to see these old, beautiful properties bulldozed and thrown away, and these new developments put in," Martin says. "That's not our neighborhood anymore if we do that. So [The Music Box] was our answer to it ... [it] was important to us to create out of this blight ... a sense of wonder and possibility."

In each of these stories, imagination played a part in instilling hope and a way forward even in the midst of tragedy. But what also caught me was that imagination cannot get off the ground without support. Amy needed not only parents, but innovative partners to help her develop the right sort of prosthesis to take up snowboarding again.  And the money to rehabilitate. Hughes depends on his father to wheel him through the routines of the marching band, as well as the makers of his wheelchair, and the willingness of the band directors to imagine how they could include Patrick. Finally, there are the patrons who fund imaginative projects like The Music Box, who see the value in creativity fueling hope, not just the resale value of a piece of property that could be bulldozed to the ground.

We may not all have imagination, but we can be part of the team where imagination flourishes. Hope requires more than creativity to take flight, each of us must offer what we have. Only then will dreams soar.


Amy Purdy's story can be found on TED here.
Click here for the youtube about Patrick Henry Hughes.
The article about The Music Box is here at npr.org.