Whew. It is hard to believe that is has been two weeks since the first Dream Caravan in New Orleans, LA.
For those of you that weren’t there or have no idea what I’m talking about, the Dream Caravan was an event that took place in New Orleans over the weekend of November 7th-8th. It featured workshops, one on one consultations, and community booths to showcase the power of dreams and dreamwork. For an overview, check out the website here. You can find the schedule of events and more info about participants.
The Dream Caravan grew out of an annual dream retreat that my father and dream teacher Rodger Kamenetz has been hosting in Louisiana since 2010. As the group of passionate dreamers grew, the desire to see the work reach the greater public grew as well. Baby steps in that direction began in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2014 that we actually created a public event with an array of workshops and offerings. This core group of dedicated dreamers, predominately my father’s students as well as some key participants from Vermont, provided the backbone for the Caravan.
For many years now, I’ve been blessed with fierce clarity about what I wanted to see manifest in the world: for dreams to become a ‘thing’. If more people came to treasure and honor the gifts that dreams bring us, I know there could be powerful effects throughout our societies and ultimately the world. This has been my guiding star and my central motivation for all of the organizing and coordinating that the Dream Caravan took. I wanted to create a dynamic event that would showcase the amazing array of ways that dreams can be harnessed as a force for transformation, creativity, and community building. Quickly, this started to take shape with three central elements: workshops, one-on-one consultations, and community participants.
Once the basic outline took shape, for me, the planning really stepped up a notch when I confirmed the keynote speaker Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Making the investment in having her participate made it a requirement that I put in the sweat equity needed to ensure the event was a success. Plus, knowing of her wisdom and powerful magic, I developed a vision of what could be possible with the Caravan—and once I had that vision, I couldn’t let it go.
The second vital element at the start was my decision to be the “CEO” of the event. Any decisions that needed to made—I was ultimately the one who made them. In the end, this choice was incredibly draining, but I also don’t regret it. In general, I tend to get confused about the difference between what someone else wants and what I want for myself. It was a joy, for a lot of the organization process, to only have my own voice in the mix when making decisions.
Of course the flip side of this was the incredible amount of pressure and anxiety I felt regarding the event. From the moment I put up the website for the Caravan in early September, I was plagued with a stubborn and increasing anxiety until about 1 week out from the event. As each day passed, I was on the line for a good amount of money and no guarantees. I wallowed in self-pity and bouts of destructive depression (what is this stupid thing?? Why did I do this to myself???).
Luckily, I am also thoroughly blessed by an amazing community and family of people who surround me and lift me up day in and day out. You guys are my heroes, especially the ones who steered me through the darkest days. Even the slightest words of encouragement meant so much in those times. Shout out especially to Render, Marian, Laura S., Mary Jo, Mary Lou, Keren, Mary Kay, Arielle, Chris, my dad, all my amazing volunteers, and so many more! The Caravan could not have been anything near what it was without the incredible support I received. It truly was astounding, especially the day of the event, 1-2 hours out, to have so many people around me consistently asking, what can I do to help? Community is real people! And mine is so incredible. I feel like we could do anything. I love you all so much.
As the day unfolded, it reminded me of how I used feel after reading a short story I had written. Utterly familiar, and yet surprising. It became clear that I really had no clue what I was trying to do or what the Caravan even was until after it was all over. Questions that have been dancing vaguely in my head for years were crystallized: What is the intersection of dreamwork (inner work) and political work? Why do community organizers in New Orleans spend time talking about gentrification when large swaths our city will most likely be underwater in my lifetime? What is the appeal of lucid dreaming and how does it relate to the kind of work I do with dreams? How can we create diverse and inclusive community spaces that cultivate emotional vulnerability and connection? Not only that—many were directly addressed by speakers, workshop leaders, and panelists that I asked to come to and present!.
Don’t get me wrong—I certainly didn’t walk away with the answers to all of these questions. Mostly, I got to figure out what my questions actually are. And that was the true gift. As I was driving away from the event, fatigued to the bone, the first thought that entered my mind was: This is the only beginning. I am still trying to figure out what that can mean. When I originally thought of the Caravan, I had the concept that we could potentially ‘take the show on the road’ but at this point I have no clue what that means. I know some are eager to get the ball rolling on another event somewhere else, and I still have to figure out how much of my own ego is invested in this particular incarnation or how much I’m ready to just release and allow whatever comes next to be what is next.
In many ways that was the most powerful lesson of the entire event. Manifesting dreams doesn’t require every aspect of the vision planned out before setting wheels in motion. For me, it’s been about having enough courage to act when the time is right and trusting that those decisions will be supported even when the light gets weak or dims. So for now, all I know that this is only the beginning—of inner work and community work finding a place to communicate, of creativity and the feminine taking their rightful places of power– of dreams being a thing—and I just feel so lucky that I get to be a part of it.
P.S. If you missed out on the Caravan or want to relive the experience we are indebted to the amazing Ben Shea for his recording of the entire event! Click below to listen!
P.P.S. If you like what you heard and want to support the Caravan moving forward, please consider making a donation! The event didn’t quite break even in terms of expenses vs. income so every little bit helps!