Dance in a show on the Strip. Create a safe space for bullied kids. Learn to BASE jump. Publish a journal on healing cancer. Save the old neon sign at Davy’s Locker. These are among the more than 1,400 dreams Charles Ressler has fielded since launching #dreamMaker right around Christmas. He was going through a hard time and feeling down, but instead of sinking, he wanted to do something positive. So he tweeted a favorite experience from 2013—seeing Pippin on Broadway—and a follower gushed that it would be her dream to see it.
That got Ressler thinking.
"Coming from the background that I do, getting her tickets to a Broadway show is a really easy thing, so I could definitely make that happen. ... If that's true, I wonder how many people want something that takes 10, 30, 60 minutes of my time that’s so easy for me. And if that’s true, that must be scaleable," he says of the thought process behind changing his Twitter profile to this:
tweet me your aspirations. use #dreamMaker. a curious thing will happen. help it unfold.
“At that point, I had no idea what would unfold,” says a grinning Ressler, who gave himself about a week to figure it out. On January 1, he posted a video explaining that he wanted to stir up viral connection, with people everywhere sharing and helping others realize dreams without money being the driving force. Since then, the First Friday organizer and Downtown champion has gained thousands of followers through the Twitter campaign, and 27 aspirations have been put in motion or fully achieved through the "currency" of connection. "Just the act of typing out your dream and tweeting it to a stranger, the universe is going to take three steps closer to you," Ressler says.
He knows there's only so much he can do. So #dreamMaker is meant to grow far beyond his Twitter feed and capabilities. It's that classic idea that if every person did just one thing to help another ... But it isn't just about noble goals. Ressler says there is no such thing as a stupid dream, even if it's to meet the guys from One Direction. It's a matter of perspective, he says. Who you are. Where you are in life. "You start to realize how important each thing is to each individual, and it really levels the playing field around how equal we all are, how important it all is." What's in his dream bucket? Getting Ellen DeGeneres to tweet the message of #dreamMaker and watching the ripple effect work magic.
“Imagine,” he says, “the impact that a hashtag can make.” Or, read on for a sampling of #dreamMaker at work.
@rp92672 I would love for my husband & I to fly to NYC to see our grandchildren, it’s been 3 years. We miss them so.
Ressler found a generous friend with plenty of airline miles to cover the couple’s flight from Southern California to New York City this June, first class. In the process of vetting the dreamer, he discovered that she didn't have extra money for travel because she's a counselor doing nonprofit work on behalf of homeless teens. Ressler had been private-messaged by a young woman in Australia who dreamed of overcoming her severe anxiety, and he saw kismet. Within hours of receiving the itinerary for her dream, @rp92672 was reaching out to help fulfill another—offering counseling to a total stranger, across the world.
@Luftenegger My Dream is to share IT’S ONLY LOVE a song I wrote to help stop LGBTQ hate crimes & promote equality.
In two radio interviews that he’s done about #dreamMaker, Ressler has gotten the song played. The dreamer shared that the airtime led to his being featured in a TV news segment in his hometown, giving him a platform to spread his positive message.
@lottieeeAnne to work in an amazing museum doing what I love and enriching myself and others with the world.
This dreamer lives in London. Ressler says that while she has the qualifications to pursue her dream, she needed help breaking into the insular arts community. He called a friend who happens to be a serious art philanthropist, who also happened to be headed to London that day. He met with the dreamer and is now in frequent contact with her, helping to polish her CV and make inroads with important players in the gallery world. “Maybe this is the most important art curator ever, or maybe in the last hundred years," Ressler muses. "Or maybe she’s going to change the way that we all consume this form, and she just needed to be put on her path.”
@synapsesoftware my dream is to quit my day job and open my own tech consultancy company.
After several other dreamers tweeted about developing apps, Ressler connected the dots. Two of them hired the aspiring tech consultant, who started building a company from there. He called Ressler last week to let him know that he gave notice at his day job. Ressler says the dreamer admitted he'd been skeptical of the #dreamMaker concept at first, wondering if it was spam or a joke. “[The] idea that some random guy really, truly, genuinely believed, made him feel like, ‘How dare I not believe in myself to do this.’”