“Don’t talk to strangers.” Those words are ingrained in us. But we chose to talk to strangers, despite the hurdles of approaching others, because we believe personal stories have the power to connect people and inspire compassion. With that in mind, we’ve been listening to and sharing personal stories of the people of St. Louis for the past 5 years. We’ve tackled important issues, created a platform for dialogue and discussion, and celebrated humanity.
As St. Louis’s story continues to be written, we want to take a snapshot of the past 5 years the way that we always have — one photo and story at a time. Typically, the Humans of St. Louis (HOSTL) posts only get a day of playtime on the page. But the stories are still relevant and timely and enjoyed by so many.
So we’re making a book! We’re self-publishing, and we’re keeping it local, from the stories to the team of creatives, from the printer to the distributor. And we’re inviting you to join us to make something truly unique of, by, and for St. Louis!
We’ve been blown away by the responses we’ve received while intimately documenting this city; that our Humans have received, by the connections that formed online, and by the powerful discussions that continue to develop on so many of our posts. Hundreds of hellos and hours of active listening have led to countless moments with humans who have had the courage to answer our questions, tell us a story, and trust us to share it with all of you.
This book will serve as a historical record of St. Louis, its Humans, and their stories at a pivotal time in our city's history, preserving and documenting these moments for generations to come — and your support will help make it possible.
What We’re Doing
The Humans of St. Louis book will share the stories of the people in this city as a colorful, contemporary, case-bound book that will include a spectrum of stories representative of HOSTL’s style. One of the great powers of a photography book is the time and space that it gives us to truly take in each image. There are nearly 300 Humans of sites around the world, and a handful of them have already published works honoring their cities.
All Humans of books to date have gone through a publisher. We decided to publish on our own in order to bring together a team of creatives who live here, rely on a printer and distributor who are in the region, and ensure that the money is supporting local talent and businesses here in St. Louis. We also thought it was important to be able to maintain the HOSTL voice throughout, accurately, honestly, and respectfully weaving the narratives together page after page. One of our goals in self-publishing is reclaiming the St. Louis narrative for St. Louisans. To tell the stories of our city in this new and nuanced way, we need to raise the funds to print the initial run. To do this, we’re missing one significant piece — YOU!
What We'll Deliver
- We're offering 10 reward levels for backers in a wide range of financial levels
- We’ll design and print an initial run of 2,000 breathtaking books (or more if we meet our stretch goals!)
- We’ll send books and additional rewards to our Kickstarter backers (books pre-ordered through the Kickstarter will be the first books shipped)
- We’ll distribute to local bookstores and shops, and make the book available on the Humans of St. Louis website
- We’ll gift a free copy to each of the 250 or so people whose stories will be a part of the book, as well as each of our team members
Show Me (Where) The Money (Is Going)!
Eighty percent of our $30,000 Kickstarter goal is to cover an initial print run, shipping, and distribution of 2,000 books.
Our total cost, which includes paying the book team, marketing, and donating a small portion of the books to the community is $120,000. We can’t self-publish this book without a robust funding effort. In addition to this Kickstarter campaign, we’re seeking private donations. If you are as inspired by the work as we are, and want to contribute more than any of the levels listed here, please reach out to us — and if you know someone else who might be interested in helping HOSTL further fund this, please help us make the connection. Humans of St. Louis is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and donations are tax deductible.
Our amazing team of St. Louis creatives is so invested in this book that they’re contributing their time and expertise on a promise right now. We also have a group of talented volunteers supporting this project. Thank you to every single one of you! We can’t wait to get the book into the hands of our supporters, storytellers, and community. Reaching our $30,000 Kickstarter goal will help us make major strides towards that making this dream a reality, and we hope that you’ll join us.
We also recognize that there are individuals featured on the page who share their stories and may have a basic need that we’re not able to directly help them address for any number of reasons. We’re a small team that makes a big social impact, and we always try to connect viewers with a featured subject when the need arises. Kickstarter prohibits us from using any of the funds we raise here for charity, so after the book is printed and published, we’re committing to donate a portion of the proceeds from book sales to a different St. Louis cause or organization every month for the first year.
Finally, through the sales of these books, Humans of St. Louis, as a nonprofit that serves the St. Louis area, will be able to secure organizational sustainability to afford to continue recording and publishing more compelling stories from our city streets as well as recruit and train the next generation of storytellers to interview and photograph for HOSTL.
While our immediate need is monetary funding, we are also open to exploring other avenues, such as:
- Event spaces — for book launch events and panel discussions
- Event-based fundraising — such as restaurant happy hours, private parties, or other creative ideas
- In-kind services — such as volunteering (i.e., pickups and deliveries, shipping, event assistance, etc).
Become a part of this by choosing a reward and backing the book.
More Ways To Show Your Support
Don’t have a lot of ready funds? Already bought a book? There are so many other ways to help us get this book made:
- Share this page on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, go back in time and make it a hot Vine, email it to your Aunt Maude, or hire a skywriting plane...
- Email this webpage to your friends (especially your rich friends!) and tell them how great it is...
- Email your enemies and tell them how much you hate us and you hope no one donates to us...
- Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram or Twitter, or just around the city (just kidding — don’t follow Lindy, that’s not cool)...
- Tell your next Tinder date about this great Kickstarter you just saw (us — tell them about us)...
- Celebrate your birthday by giving to HOSTL on Facebook! (Mark it for the book specifically, if you’d like)...
- Hold a private fundraiser anytime from July to November. We’ll send a HOSTL team member to co-host the event, share the behind the scenes of all the HOSTL magic, and explain how their support helps...
- Invite HOSTL to give a presentation about documentary street photography, interviewing strangers in St. Louis, or the art of storytelling, specifically here in this city...
- Interested in partnering with HOSTL? Reach out to us with your ideas to collaborate: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOSTL By The Numbers
We can count the number of likes, loves, laughs, and wows on each post, but the real beauty of this project has been creating an intimate space for everyday St. Louisans to be seen and heard, and for you to express yourselves and talk to each other.
Now we’re ready to take our storytelling to the next level by sharing these authentic insights and stories from real people about what life is really like in St. Louis. And we’re inviting you to partner with us on a journey of mutual discovery in this book of, by, and for the people of St. Louis.
If we can raise enough money to increase our first print run, we want to take full advantage of the opportunity to print as many books as possible. If we exceed our goal, every additional $7,500 we raise will pay for an additional 1,000 books and and labor, including paying the team and the distributor.
So if we can reach $37,500, we'll print 3,000 books; at $45,000, we'll print 4,000 books; at $52,500, we'll print 5,000 books, and so on.
During this campaign, we’ll also be releasing photostories from the Book Production Team and the vendors to introduce these talented professionals to you and share their work, thoughts, and perspectives in St. Louis. In the meantime...
Lindy Drew: Co-Founder, Photographer, Lead Storyteller - lindydrew.com
Caroline Fish: Co-Founder, Editor, Board President
Dessa Somerside: Editor, Board Vice President
Chris Ferrara: Board Treasurer
Justin Smith: Board Finance Director
The Book Production Team
Annie Martineau: Creative Director, Book Designer - Analog Studio
Tunde Ogunfidodo: Photostories Editor and Copywriter
Hannah Burtness: Project Coordinator, Editor, and Design Support - hannahburtness.com
Andrew Doty: Kickstarter Content Coordinator - Editwright
Anna Shabsin: Proofreader
Maleeha Ahmad: Website Designer - Maleeha Samer
Jon Alexander: Videographer - Chill Season
Justin Barr: Aerial Photography - STL From Above
Alana Flowers: Video Editing - iamalanamarie.com
Additionally, the following team members are generously volunteering their time for this project: our HOSTL Board (including editors, the treasurer, and the financial resource manager), the proofreader, and the drone photographer.
A heartfelt thank you to our volunteer review team and focus group that have weighed in with their helpful feedback during the various steps of this process, too! And to Brandon Stanton who started Humans of New York and continues to allow storytellers to amplify the Humans of movement through their pages around the world. And most of all, thank you to the viewers and Humans who make this storytelling project possible, and to the backers who will make this book a reality!
Risks and challenges
From the moment the creative content team began working together last year, we have been stretched and challenged with the book-building process, from figuring out how to communicate our values to each new team member, vendor, and partner to the actual logistics of how we’re going to bring this book to life.
Another challenge that we’ve been navigating is building a book that boldly tells the story of St. Louis and unflinchingly tackles the issues that we encounter every day without “virtue signaling” or patronizing certain segments of the population. We want this book to invite our audience to question assumptions and build connections.
We as a team are committed to delivering a beautiful end product that will be accessible on the shelves of libraries and retailers throughout St. Louis. While we’re still in the process of editing this book, choosing from thousands of stories and endless possible layouts, we’ve made a majority of the creative decisions and done much of the work.
That said, we recognize that there will be challenges that may shift the logistics, budget, and even the vendors with whom we work to complete this project. It’s entirely possible that unforeseeable snags could delay the production and delivery of the final product. We intend to get it into production this fall and delivered in December, just in time for the gift-giving season. If we do encounter delays, we’ll be sure to post prompt updates and keep you apprised, with the intention to deliver the book and other rewards as soon as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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