Trying to raise your voice in the digital world is like shouting into New York traffic at rush hour. Horns are blaring. A Prius is cutting across four lanes of traffic for the exit. Someone’s tire blows out. Some guy sporting a mullet cranks up Highway to Hell and nobody can hear you. Nobody can hear me.
Despite our cries for world peace, our voice and passion is carried off in the heat and rage of rush hour - which is the eternal state of social media.
I sat silent for a while. I felt stupid for trying to compete with propaganda and the louder larger voices of the world. I started to wonder. Maybe the world doesn’t need my voice. Maybe it’s all been said before. Who am I, anyway?
But I couldn’t let it go.
Every day I listen, and read, and feel the growing division. The bi-partisan, dichotomous thinking that plagues our culture is wreaking havoc. But chanting along with one of the two pre-defined groups wasn’t my solution.
I thought back to an old story where a man was told to love his neighbor. He got cheeky and asked “Well, who is that, exactly?” This turns into the story of the Good Samaritan. The tale that crosses lines, climbs walls, and breaks borders.
The end point being that you are my neighbor. And #IAmYourNeighbor.
So, my solution is to use art to restore some dignity and humanity to our story.
My solution is to take the people who are hammered down into political rhetoric - those who are dehumanized for the sake of sound bytes - and give them a platform to show their normalcy. To break down the divisions of stereotypes, misinformation, and fear.
Portraits of your neighbors. People doing people things. Making eggs. Mowing the lawn. Playing Frisbee.
Stories from your neighbors. Talking about their favorite coffee. Or the last time they cried.
People, not problems. Reality, not rhetoric. Individuals, not issues. Stories, not stereotypes. This is art to humanize humanity.
I emailed Jeremy Cowart about the idea, worried that it wasn’t original enough. Worrying again that my voice wouldn’t be….enough… and he took the time to reply. “Don’t worry about what might already be out there. You just have to do it.”
So this is the start. I have people interested. I have shoots booked. But I need more. More stories. More portraits. More humanity. I don’t want to launch until I have s solid gallery of images and stories and this is where you come in.
Let’s make connections. Help me find the people. Help me build the neighborhood.