Humans of St. Louis – One Photo and Story at a Time


By Magdalena Knapp, Editor

“What do you wanna be when you grow up? “

“A doctor.”

“And why?”

“Because I want to look into people’s bodies.”

“In which body do you wanna look?”

“My mom’s body, because she has cancer, and I want to take it out.”

Would you have expected this answer? Answers like this and interesting stories are all around us. Every person has a story to tell, but most of them do not share because they are not asked. Imagine how many stories you could hear during the day if you would simply talk to people on the streets. This is what Lindy Drew and her coworkers do: They talk to people they meet on the streets of St. Louis.

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Lindy’s lifework is called “HOSTL” which stands for “Humans of St. Louis”, their motto is it to take one picture and story at a time. The whole project started off as a community arts initiative. It was roughly planned. They had almost no equipment, but they had a dream. Their dream was to create a social network community where people can share their stories: fun stories, sad stories, and interesting stories. As time passed by, they found their style, launched a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter page, and started to upload the pictures and stories they found.

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The HOSTL team consists of many people, and there are many things that need to be covered: photos and interviews, editing and social media, finance and outreach, and other contributors such as interviewers, idea generators and of course the viewers.

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Lindy goes up to people in the streets and asks them questions about their life, questions that at first seem very random. However every person has a different answer to them, which is what makes them special. The first time Lindy walked up to a stranger, she was very shy. She did not exactly know what she was going to do, but she did it anyway: Walked up to a stranger and said “Hi, how’re you doin’?” He was an older man on a run-down bike in the middle of the street. They talked for a little, she took a picture and he left to go to church. That is how it works. Sounds simple? It is! But the outcome is incredible! Every person has a personal story he or she can tell, and every person has a different and unique answer to a question that might seem simple at first. An eight-year old girl was asked once, “If you would have magic powers, what would you do?” Her answer: “I would make endless clean water, so we will never run out of it.” Who would have thought that an eight-year old girl is concerned about these issues?

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HOSTL is a stunning project. They share stories of people that otherwise no one would have heard, and their social community is growing. Their Facebook page has 94,000 followers, and continues growing daily. Viewers who see a story that inspires them to help, can do so by sharing the story or giving money. Although HOSTL is not a fundraising page, at least not yet.

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HOSTL collects the stories that are around us and shares them so more people can get inspired by them. Everyone has a story to tell, you just have to be open and listen to it. Go onto the streets and talk to random people, ask them whatever you would like to know, make connections, and get inspired!

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You can find more information and inspiring stories here: https://www.facebook.com/HumansofSTL/

Pictures retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/HumansofSTL/