Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Strangers Project

Many times when I'm at a restaurant or bored during a long commute, I start making up stories about the people around me. I wonder what their lives are like, imagine where they work, if the awkward couple sitting a few tables away are on their very first date. Do you do that, too? Lately I've also been wondering if anybody in the crowd is silently facing some terrible hardship invisible to the rest of us.

In 2009, Brandon Doman found himself sitting outside a coffee shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan and suddenly consumed with this need to know other people's stories. So he wrote up a sign and asked strangers to write something about their lives in his notebook and so The Strangers Project began. Doman now lives in New York City and Lord knows there's no shortage of interesting characters passing by you each day. He's collected more than 5,000 anonymous entries from people all over the country and has recently relaunched the site with these stories for us to browse through or contribute one of your own. (My favorite are the handwritten ones.)

And, of course, like all good concepts, the project has been turned into a book. Hearts, Minds, & Flesh is a collection of 693 entries gathered during the first two years of The Strangers Project. You can nab a print version from Amazon or name your own price for a digital version.

Speaking of strangers and stories, four years after meeting through the blogosphere and sharing endless thoughts through snail-mailed letters, I finally met my friend Tooje in person. I've watched her adorable kids grow up (and miss that she no longer blogs) and she was the one who virtually motivated me to attend the blog event where I would meet A. She and her husband joined us for dinner Sunday evening and on Monday I invited her out for some hot chocolate because the dreary day just called for warmth and more catching up.

As sketchy as some people think it to be, the Internet can be a wonderful thing and there a few people who would've never entered my life had it not been for this expanse of World Wide Web.

Image: strangersproject.com

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you finally got to meet Tooje!

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  2. I am so late to this blog, clearly, but of all days I have time when I'm stuck at home on yet another snowy day. I met you during Nemo and now I'm stuck here in Snow Storm....Rocky, I think they're calling it? We just finished Q.

    It was wonderful meeting you finally. My husband was/is one of those skeptical-about-the-net type of folk, but he thoroughly enjoyed dinner with you and A. I also think he was jealous he had to leave Monday and I met up with you again. :)

    There is something very tempting about being anonymous and telling your story. But on the flip side, I don't know if I have story interesting enough to share anonymously.

    I can't wait for my next trip out so we can meet once more. Hopefully in decent weather so we can hang outside in the sunshine!

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