I had only recently met Heather when she called one Sunday afternoon in early April. She was concerned about how the pandemic shutdown was going to affect the theatre. It was just beginning to dawn on all of us that the closures necessitated by Covid-19 were likely to last much longer than two weeks, and the implications for the entire theatre industry and the arts sector as a whole were very dire.
Heather shared her own story of doing shows in school. She credited her experience in the theatre with a certain measure of her confidence and her comfort with introducing herself to new people and engaging strangers in conversation. “Even though I never expected to run for office, it turns out being sociable is a really important attribute when you are campaigning!”
We had a long conversation about how important it is to be sociable, considerate of your neighbors, open to listening, and willing to collaborate. In the theatre, collaboration is essential to our work. It is a given. Everyone – director, designers, actors – comes into a production process expecting to contribute, but knowing not everything they offer will work in the final product. They are energized by a shared goal to make the best show possible, one that highlights ideas, delights the audience, offers moments of discovery, empathy, and connection for every participant.
Heather and I agreed, “wouldn’t it be nice if government could work more like that?” Governance and decision-making with a collaborative mindset, where the goal is the best Minnesota possible for everyone. “That’s what I want to bring to the capital,” Heather said, “a willingness to collaborate, to make sure Moorhead’s voice is heard, but not louder than other voices, in concert with other voices.”
We continued to visit about Moorhead, the pandemic, the theatre, and I began to see why Heather is an excellent choice to represent this community in state government. She is front-footed, willing to dive in to conversation with anyone, curious about what others think and happy to listen. She is excited to learn from others, because it inspires creative problem solving. And she seems to have unlimited energy, driven by a desire to really make a difference in people’s lives.
We agreed we could visit all afternoon but had other things to attend to, so we said goodbye and wished each other good health. And after we hung up, I realized Heather had not really asked me to do anything to support her campaign. She had called to see how I was doing and learn about the effects the pandemic might have on my business. That’s a person I want representing Moorhead.
Carrie Wintersteen, Executive Director, Theatre B