It’s Not A Dream If You Will It

  • “It’s Not a Dream if You Will It” highlights the community-led revitalization of Brownsville.
  • Groundswell youth worked together to research the history of Brownsville and create a compelling mural design.
  • The team engaged the community in painting its own vision of the future of Brownsville, during a lively community painting event.
  • Groundswell youth artists fill in the mural’s outline.
  • During the dedication, youth artists talked about the impact the mural has had on the community.
  • You too can be a neighborhood hero.

Project Description

Installed on Herzl Street, “It’s Not A Dream If You Will It” is inspired by Theodore Herzl’s famous quote – “If you will it, it is no dream.” – and encourages psychological transformation within the participants and the viewers. As the third mural to be unveiled among a series of five created through Transform / Restore: Brownsville, “It’s Not A Dream If You Will It” supports the transformation of the narrative of Brownsville through public art.


Throughout the mural design and fabrication process, youth participants engaged in brainstorming sessions to re-define the concept of ‘hero’ and ‘role model.’ During the research phase, the project team also visited the Brooklyn Museum and Brownsville Heritage House. “We dug through the history of Brownsville, aiming to figure out a path for our community in the future. What is the best way to achieve that other than getting to know our neighborhood first?” said youth participant Sean Turner, among five other Brownsville residents on the team.


At the bottom left of the mural, a silhouette is nestled among Brownsville-born community leaders and celebrities, suggesting that everyone can become a neighborhood hero through this process of acknowledgment and discovery. The water image at the bottom of the mural further suggests transformation through upward and continuous progress, inspired by Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ notion “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”


Launched with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through its national Our Town initiative, Transform / Restore: Brownsville is designed to engage young adult probation clients, local businesses, and community members in the creation of visible and permanent change in Brownsville, Brooklyn.


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Project Info

Fun Facts

Fun Fact
Brownsville was founded in the 1800s by Charles S. Brown.
Question about the Mural
Who are the people that are represented in the mural? What did they do for the community?
Fun Fact
Brownsville is a site of cross-sector dynamism, including public agencies, nonprofits, and small businesses. For example, the Brownsville Community Justice Center engages youth while the Brownsville Heritage Center enriches the cultural landscape.