Do you ever stop and think about who your heroes are? A lot of us seem to think that a hero is something that is a far above us, like people who need to be put on a pedestal. You’ve got sports heroes, superheroes, world leaders, Enrique Iglesias (he can be your hero, baby).
Something we don’t often think about are the heroes in our every day lives. The people who strive to make a difference and impact every day in their work or their spare time. Heroic Humans is an initiative started by 23-year-old Dana Clark from King City, Ontario. The goal is simple and inspiring: it’s a place to acknowledge the heroes who are making an impact every day through their words, actions, and intentions.
The project is just getting started but has taken off with a head of steam and has already had a ton of outreach. I caught up with Dana over FaceTime while she was in Florida, and found we had a ton in common: a few mutual friends, she went to Lakehead Oralia while I now work at Lakehead Thunder Bay, and the same overall message that people are capable of amazing things.
Evan: So how long have you been doing Heroic Humans?
Dana: It’s been officially only two months, October 1st I launched. It feels like it’s been 10 years as a little part of me.
E: How did it come about?
D: I work at Lululemon part time (on top of her current studies in Broadcast Journalism at Seneca). I was in the meeting with my managers and they ask a lot of thought provoking questions, like “If you had one character trait in the world what would it be” and “what are you doing here” and the last question they asked was “who are you here to be?”
I said well, I guess I’m here to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good partner, a good granddaughter, a good friend, and I want to, in any capacity, show up for someone every single day of my life. I want to make a difference and I want to be a heroic human.
They were like “wow, that’s better than we expected.” I went home and I could not get “heroic humans” out of my head. I couldn’t sleep. I was having a glass of wine with my mum and she said “Dana, you just need to go do this right now before it slips your brain.” I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it at first, but I went and bought the domain, the website, everything, and said “okay, I guess I’m going to give it a whirl.” That was in the end of May.
E: Then you had time to get ready for the launch
D: Yeah, then I had to come up with my mission statements, and my values and logo, and website design and all that jazz. The mission is to inspire, celebrate and empower heroic members of all communities. That is just getting people to really just want to celebrate each other. Getting people to notice the good and bring out kindness, and support your community. I’m sure you’d agree that with any community connection and people who are supporting each other, anything is possible. Whether you’re a cancer survivor, or a great barista, or an up-and-coming entrepreneur, your community should know about it and those around you should support you and encourage you.
We don’t acknowledge each other enough. So it’s this space I’ve created to be able to do that and to celebrate that.
E: There’s a variety of people on the site. I read about the two yoga instructors [who run The Yoga Project which brings yoga into K-12 schools] and I read about the football coach, [who teaches athletes to become more well-rounded and think about their overall impact in the world] both very interesting. What’s been the overall response you’ve received from Heroic Humans?
D: The response has been insane. I always say to myself that if something happened tomorrow to myself, to social media, or to the planet, I would feel absolutely fulfilled from what I’ve got so far. The people who support you when you don’t even ask for it is insurmountable and people have no idea how much it means just to say to someone “hey, what you’re doing is so cool” or “good for you.” The support has been crazy, and people from all over the world.
We now have the gift of social media that we can truly reach anybody we want to, and people from New Zealand to London to Iceland. It’s so cool, the outreach. I feel so lucky for everyone who is supporting me, you know?
E: What did you get your degree in?
D: Media studies, and criminology. It was inter-disciplinary.
E: So you wanted to become a CSI writer, that’s good.
D: And I minored in psych, so even more backing for that. Now that I have this passion of mine I kind of want to run with it and see where it will take me and what I can do with it.
E: Who was your hero growing up?
D: Interesting. I’m going to be super cliche and say my mom. My mom pretty much raised me by myself, and my brothers, and she’s been an entrepreneur and had her own business for about 35 years now. She’s been a complete, literal Beyonce of my life. She’s just amazing and really inspired me to not have to necessarily live the way that society wants us to and the way we’re supposed to. To really get outside the box and think about what you want, and what works for you, and what you’re passionate about. I think that really helped me develop my dream for Heroic Humans.
Even in 3rd year, I had this vision that I wanted to run something huge or be the face of something and change peoples lives and be like an Ellen or Oprah and just help people. I didn’t know my cause or my values, I didn’t know what I was after and my mission. Then Heroic Humans fell on my lap and I thought “Oh my God, this is the outlet that I’m supposed to be working with. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
My goal is to have big Heroic Humans conferences all over the world with heroic people from everywhere coming together to inspire others and a place where you can come where any dream or goal of yours is celebrated, acknowledged and shared. My mom definitely gave me the gumption to chase after what I wanted to do.
E: What other goals do you have for Heroic Humans because it’s just a baby right now?
D: Honestly, it’s such a baby. It’s two months. As you know when you’re starting something you put so much into it that it honestly feels like it’s your whole life. Then you remember that there are other things.
Short term goals would be looking to have a big launch party and have some local press and invite people to hear about Heroic Humans and participate. Other goals include bringing on more ambassadors. I recently brought on two LGBTQ ambassadors because I want to have reach in every community and have people that people can relate to and to tell their stories, and have someone in the community people could turn to.
E: And that’s Ryan & Randi?
D: Yep! And to have an environmental ambassador, and wildlife. To have women’s rights, athletics, fitness, I want to have someone that anyone could look at and say “I didn’t know someone else felt the way I feel.”
Another short term goal would be to have conferences starting in just my community and bringing people together, whether to crush your goals or to talk about your up-and-coming projects, or you just need someone to talk to. I have high hopes, and at this point anything is possible and the the response has me feeling so blessed so far.
E: As someone who, as far as I can tell, is someone who is a fan of the human connection: do you consider yourself an extrovert?
D: You know what? I don’t know. I think I’m an extroverted-introvert. Do you believe in that? It’s okay if you don’t [Evan’s note: I do, for sure]. I love connection, but connection isn’t all about talking and laughing. There’s so much more, and it can be so much deeper than that. It can be so vulnerable and it can be things on the inside.
E: What are your opinions on social media?
D: I actually think it’s a pretty great place. At least the things that I feel attracted to while I’m on there, you really do see the power behind giving someone the opportunity to support you. The majority of people will help you if you just ask. We’re all so scared to ask for help and are scared to be shut down, but if you ask most people will say yes. I think social media gives you that ability to meet people that you’d never meet. Like I would have never met you, you know? You just have to know your ways about it.
E: It’s been two months of Heroic Humans. How has it changed your everyday life?
D: I feel I so appreciate humanity more. If you just ask for help, most of the time someone can help you. If you just smile at somebody, most of the time they’ll smile back. If you treat someone with kindness, they’re likely to treat you with kindness back.
Also practicing what I preach, because I so often talk about being a raw human to connect with others and being accepting, leading with non-judgement. I’m human, and sometimes I don’t do those things and then I catch myself and say “I’m the heroic human here, and I need to act accordingly and check myself.” I feel like it’s made me a better person, and more willing to get to know people and see the good that people have to offer.
E: If you could give people one piece of advice, what would it be?
D: You have no idea what the person next to you has been through, unless you ask. So find out, always ask, get curious. Ask the difficult questions, even if you think they won’t answer. What do you have to lose? At least you tried.
Already Dana has profiled a ton of interesting people over on Heroic Humans who are doing their part to make the world a little bit better every day. She’s doing her part as well, by giving a place to showcase the heroes to the world.
I urge you to check out Heroic Humans in the many ways available to you. Check them out on their website: http://www.heroichumans.com; their Instagram here (which just got to over 1000 followers on the night we spoke); their Facebook page is here.
It’s always nice to know there are people who are recognizing the little things and the big efforts going on in local communities to make a difference. Dana has given them a platform, and it will only continue to grow.