Quick Start: Want to jump right in? Read hundreds of the 3000 (and growing) journal entries at http://www.ehdom.com/strangers
One year ago I began asking strangers to stop share a story with me—anything they wanted—by writing in blank notebooks that I carried with me. Eventually, after the success of the handwritten entries, I began collecting stories online in addition to the handwritten stories. 3000 entries later I've decided to expand the project further. I am raising money to be able to collect stories in new ways (audio and video), share thousands of stories with the world through an interactive web experience, and to collect stories on a wider geographic scale.
This project has reached tens of thousands of people so far, and I'm certain that this is only the beginning of its potential.
What is Don't Talk to Strangers?
When I started this project, I had no idea of the potential for significant emotional connection with a complete stranger—connection through spontaneous intimate discourse. The project quickly became something more than I expected. It became something organic—something that connects us. People would laugh while they wrote. They would cry. The stories illuminated the strands that connect us all—The beautiful, dirty, scary, and exciting bits of humanity that we hesitate to show strangers.
We often feel alone—all six billion of us. We’ve learned, now more than ever, that being surrounded by people doesn’t keep us from feeling lonely. There’s an imbalance between the need we have to express ourselves and mediums for us to do so. Language allows us to take comfort that we, and others that share our burden of consciousness, have experienced life. The ability to share what burns in the hearts and minds of those around us is the one thing that makes us what we are; we need to remember that our lives, for whatever reasons, are worth remembering.
Why the project needs funding
The project has had an amazing and unexpected amount of growth and momentum over the past year. The website has received over 180,000 page views since it first appeared online, over 3000 individuals have shared their own story, and thousands have interacted with the project right on the sidewalk. So far all of this has been thanks to you—a community of strangers coming together to listen to each other, and to share our voices. If we come together to back this project, little by little, we can continue to see the full potential of this idea.
The money raised will go towards the following:
1) Creating a more immersive online experience to share the thousands of stories already collected, as well as future stories. The site will provide better access to transcribed entries, original handwritten entries, audio and videos entries, and other multimedia about the behind the scenes features for the project.
2) Obtaining hardware (a Zoom H4n Audio Recorder) and other materials to collect a wider range of stories via writing, audio, and video.
3) Visits to others states/cities to collect stories in person on a wider geographic scale.
4) Production costs of printed materials such as the book versions of the entries.
A few days ago I received this e-mail which sums up many reasons of why I think this project is important. I get these kind of messages daily from people that visit the site and people that interact with the project in person. I feel that they represent a side of the project I could never share in my own words:
"I StumbledUpon your Don't Talk to Strangers page, and instead of packing my luggage like I should, I read every single story that was listed. I giggled, and I sobbed, and I came to the conclusion that I need someone just to talk to. Someone who doesn't know me, who I have never met, who is just there to listen and to share stories of their own. Maybe that could be you."
You can read more about the project and read many of the entries (with many more added constantly) at http://www.ehdom.com/strangers