This summer, we went on a long road trip to visit national parks and adjacent states. It was hot and dusty and cramped, but mostly, it was awesome. My family looks forward to it all year, and my husband plans it, and I bring snacks, and a desire to try coffee and food in every town we visit. I hike because I love him, and it counts towards my steps.
Our last stop was in Steamboat Springs, in the mountains of Colorado. It's a beautiful city. We hiked and we scooted. But my favorite part of Steamboat was an accidental stumbling upon a mural painting in progress. Whatsmore, the mural had been outlined on the wall by fine artist Lance Whitner, who was there watching, relaxing and chatting with people outside of Pine Moon Art Gallery. But the mural itself was being painted by anyone who wanted to help! It was collaborative and beautiful and brilliant. When the community piece was complete, she was going to go back in and add shading and dimension. And if I were in charge artist, I don't think I would have ever let anyone touch my mural. I'd be so nervous about making it look perfect, I'd be nervous someone else would make a mistake, and I'd have knots in my stomach. Oh, and did I not mention, it's her first mural.
But that was what made it so amazing. Ms. Whitner had a poster of what she wanted the wall to look like, and everyone who walked by, including kids, were encouraged to grab a paintbrush and dive in, using the poster as a reference. A community-wide paint-by-number.
And my daughter, whose birthday was the same day, loves painting and she jumped right in. Not only did all the volunteers wish her a big happy birthday, but let her paint and paint and paint. It was so sweet and special and totally magical to be able to be included, and now, when we go to Steamboat again, we get to visit the mural, and feel like we were a part of something, because Ms. Whitner made the space for us to join, by setting up brand standards, offering support, and enjoying the process. She is brave, brilliant, and my new hero.