As anyone who reads the EMV Blog knows well, Homestead Valley’s Tim Ryan, a 2023 Milley Award winner, widely known for his public art projects that bring his neighbors together, brings pure joy to his community on a regular basis. 

He’s long since had Enjoy Mill Valley’s undivided attention. And now he’s garnered the attention of CBS News Bay Area’s Jefferson Awards.

“The vibrant flowers that fill Tim Ryan’s Mill Valley backyard don’t need water,” CBS News Bay Area wrote. “They’re rooted in community spirit.”

“It’s joy. It’s simply just joy,” Ryan told CBS News Bay Area. “That’s my idea.”

He tries to create joy and healing through his public art. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he wanted to unite people in an uplifting project they could participate in while remaining safely socially distanced.

“It’s easy to find darkness if you look for it. I try to be the good in the world that I want to see,” Ryan explained.

He took metal rings from wine barrels and bent them into heart shapes. Then he left eight hearts outside his home with a note attached instructing whoever picked the hearts up to give them away to folks who were struggling.

People snatched up the hearts. One woman came back.

“She said, ‘I want to let you know I didn’t give it away. My dog had died that morning when I found the heart and I kept it. I took at it every day.'” Ryan recalled. “And I said, ‘I’ve got to make more.'”

So he bought hundreds more metal rings to shape more art and touch more hearts. The project is an emotional one for volunteer Christine Del Castillo.

“It’s the hearts. I’ve made a lot. I’m given away so many of them,” she explained, tearing up as she spoke. “People cry when I’ve given them. I’ve mostly given them to people whose husbands have passed away or their wives, their dad, or mom. They mean things to people.”

To date, Ryan and his volunteers have given away more than 1,800 hearts. The goal is 2,000. Those who are interested reach him through his Instagram account, @tim_ryan_mv.

Ryan, who works for the San Rafael city school district, has more recently spent weeks on another project. Dozens of volunteers meet on weekends to work on his annual float in the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade.

They’re painting hundreds of cardboard, wooden and 3-D flowers. The art is the glue that binds the people together.



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