Inspiring The Courage To Change

Encouraging people to reshape their worlds by living their dreams is the work of Austrian initiatives Mutmacherei and Dream Academia – a goal that is now more important than ever

Top Stories | Doris Neubauer | November 2012

The Dream Academia team encourages people to think beyond the status quo (Photo:

"Energy flows where attention goes" is one of the seven principles in the old Hawaiian tradition of Huna. The word literally means "secret", but this knowledge was lived by everyone for a long time prior to 750 A.D., and not spiritual hocus-pocus, as quantum physics has proven. Experiments have shown that energy responds to mindful attention and that the world and our reality are created accordingly.

Today, "the media focus on negativity and drama, and make a living on bad news. Which leaves us under the impression that everything is going down the drain," explains Ira Mollay, coach and SMB (Small and Medium Business) consultant. She is not willing to add to the bad news. "The fact is, that there are countless initiatives all over the world engaging in solutions and positive work." Together with like-minded people, the former director of Greenpeace founded the Viennese association Die Mutmacherei (literally, "making courage") – in English, inspire4change.

"Climate change, environmental degradation, financial and banking crises, food shortages, droughts, burn-out, depression ... and the list is getting longer every day," Mollay is aware of the current challenges. "This is scary stuff, and many people become frightened or apathetic: it seems there is no easy way out, due to the complexity of the problems." But, with the right guidance, there is.

In workshops, presentations and fun initiatives like free hugs or flash mobs, the group seeks to inspire and encourage people to step out of their mindset of things having to be the way they always have been.


Countering the status quo

Harald Katzenschläger of Dream Academia shares this vision. "The urge to preserve the status quo, no matter how, is our biggest challenge," he says, "but this gives the chance to be a pioneer in the adventure called life and to create new potential as well as discover new fields."

In a campus area they re-named "Dreamicon Valley" in Siegendorf, Burgenland, Katzenschläger and his partners encourage and help people to make their dreams real. Letting go of old structures and constructs that have outlived their usefulness, is an important step, they say. Founded in 2007, the Dream Academia does not ask for any payment and still, they receive lots of positive feedback and financial support. The goal is to show that limits only exist in people’s minds.

"It is fascinating to imagine how the world could be in 10 years, but it is even more fascinating to co-create it today. Your gut feeling is your guide, not what others expect from you," says Katzenschläger, a former pilot, who also brought the inspirational TED talks to Austria. "People need to trust and the freedom to follow their intuition, and to have dreams to spur them to explore new things."

Henrik Hörmann, a 10-year-old author, seems to have both: His dream of writing books has come true. His inspirational story and other positive examples of – successful dreamers all over the world will soon be available at, Dream Academia’s online television network.

"These kind of positive projects can help out when you have lost hope," explains Ira Mollay. "They can re-ignite your desire to be part of a shared effort that will bring about change for the better." With their constantly growing "Map of Solutions", inspire4change has put together an online collection of more than 500 inspiring projects from all around the world. Freely accessible, this current core effort of the association shows that "there is no need to start your own initiative, you might also want to actively support others with your own means, skills and knowledge."

It is not only "the enthusiasm, passion and the glowing eyes of people who follow their path self-confidently" that keeps Harald Katzenschläger going, but also the mood created by good news and positive projects changing the world.

"We need the good news to navigate our brains into a state of creativity and readiness for action, rather than fear and passivity," Mollay is convinced. "We need good news to keep or regain our optimism and our confidence that things will end well."

And according to Huna, they will, if we pay attention to the good and apply our energy to the positive.

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