I’ve been working on material over the last few months for my IndyHub writing debut, and have several blogs in some sort of half-finished state. Instead of finishing those, this blog is written in honor and memory of my Partner-in-Crime, Denver Hutt.
Everything I know about community I learned from Denver, which is funny given I had founded Nine13sports before I ever met her. I thought I knew what community meant. But over the past three years Denver taught me that while I might have understood the word community, I had been actually missing being part of the experience. I was simply on the outside looking in. It took her pushing me every day to transform from watching community to delving into living and doing community.
One of the many things I loved about Denver was her desire to make Indianapolis a better place. Not for personal gain, but simply because she knew that this was an already great city that could reach new heights with the hard work of visionaries and leaders. She understood that this city of opportunity could continue to be transformed through the passion and power of its young leaders across all industries.
She influenced many other young professionals with that same mindset. When I step back and look at the big picture, I realize that many of the people driving positive change and impact throughout Indianapolis were not only inspired by Denver, but confided in her and shared the same passion to leave a legacy for others calling Indy home.
“Legacy” is not a word that often gets attached to twenty-somethings.
When you read an article using that word to describe someone, chances are they have lived a full life of 60, 70, 80 years. Denver lived a full life in her brief 28 years, earning us the right to use that word with her name at her death. She left us all with so many gifts, not just what she built at the Speak Easy, but with the true sense of bond and connections she created among our young professionals.
What I learned most from watching Denver work her magic across every silo and industry is that as young leaders, it is up to us to not only be part of the community, but actively engaged within it. We must break down the barriers that exist, mindful that those barriers were often implemented by those who came before us. We have to find ways to collaborate, not just assume that others will take care of the responsibility. We are required to strive to not rest on what Indianapolis has already accomplished, but on what new triumphs we can help it achieve.
There are so many opportunities in this city for young individuals wanting to make an impact to do so. It requires a ton of hard work and often comes with little recognition, yet the sacrifice of time yields great gain for the entire population.
“If Not Now, When?”
To utilize her favorite quote, we must utilize every moment of every day to grow together and collectively use passionate dialogue and old fashioned hard work to make a difference in our city. Whatever excuses you think you have — late hours, a young family, a great dating scene . . . —they are just that, excuses.
If Denver was able to do all she did in the last three years of her life while battling stage IV cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, going to a multitude of doctors’ appointments and suffering exhaustion while simultaneously serving as Executive Director of the Speak Easy then in a new position with MIBOR, then you can certainly find time to create an impact in our community in your own way.
Thank you for honoring Denver’s life as a person, leader, professional and friend over these last few weeks. Let’s make sure her legacy of how to best live life in community is not forgotten. Let’s work diligently to carry her memory on in all we do. We will be a better, more dynamic and thriving community if we do.
Tom Hanley is the Executive Director of Nine13sports, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that promotes health, wellness, and exercise for local youth between the ages of 5 and 18 using bicycling as the gateway.