Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Behind the Scenes with Humans of Toledo

The stories of people I met while visiting New York have stuck with me and still fascinate me. Stories – unedited, raw narratives that stumble out of someone’s mouth – make us feel empathy, yearning, shared sadness or triumph…  They make us feel connected, like we’re not alone in this life.

They remind me to “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” as written by Ian MacLaren.

Brandon Stanton is a messenger of stories for the people of New York.  He photographs and interviews people on the street to capture their story and then publishes them to a blog and Facebook page titled “Humans of New York” (HONY).  He also published a beautiful and colorful, in every sense of the word, book inspired by the blog.  He describes it as a “beautiful, heartfelt, funny, and inspiring collection of photographs capturing the spirit of a city [and] that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.”  The amount of information, nuanced sentiment, frank emotion and often utter honesty that strangers share with Stanton is captivating and life-affirming.

Earlier this month, Toledoans got our very own Humans of Toledo page on Facebook.  Created by Joni Johnson, a broadcast journalism student at Bowling Green State University, the page follows the same concept of HONY, but of course our city is HOT.  Joni started the page because she is a fan of HONY, a fan of Toledo and thought the experience would help in her future career pursuits in radio and documentaries.

The page has attracted other fans of Toledo, myself included, to share their own stories and read others’ stories.  It’s poignant and colorful, many of the things we love about HONY, but, it’s from home.  Which makes me so proud.  It’s Toledo-affirming.

"The people I meet through Humans of Toledo make my heart full," said Joni.  "I admire their triumphs and embrace their flaws because they make them who they are. I hope others are enjoying it as well and maybe learning something along the way. I know I am."

I met Joni at Vivian Kate, a favorite local women’s boutique at Levis Commons that features high-quality designer lines.  The conversation flowed easily as we talked of my passion for clothing and style and my position as a digital media specialist.  Then she asked me where my confidence comes from.

My confidence?  I laughed inside.  I was more comfortable than I expected, but I was still nervous.  I’m almost always a bit nervous when talking to new people.  I pulled down my adorable scarf  (made locally by Mitten Made) and showed her the red blotchiness that I always get when I’m even slightly uncomfortable.  What I said next, can be read on the Humans of Toledo’s Facebook page here.  It’s my story about how I regard dressing for the day and faking err conveying! poise.

If you like what you see, please "like" Humans of Toledo to see more of Toledo’s stories.  Thank you, Joni, for giving Toledo our own chapter to let our incredible stories shine and for the opportunity to share mine.

Here are a couple more shots from my time with Joni:

The Details
Scarf: Handmade by Mitten Made - Etsy, Facebook
Jacket: Aeropostale, past season, similar here and here
Jeans: Gap
Boots: Bakers, past season, similar here and here

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