The Strangers Project is the creation of Brandon Doman, a New Yorker who collects anonymous stories from strangers.
It began in 2009, as he was people-watching from a coffee shop. On a whim he placed a sign that said, “Hi There! Please stop by and share your story!”
To his surprise, dozens of people agreed to write their stories in his notebook. His only requirement was that it had to be true. Four years later he’s collected over 5,000 anonymous stories from strangers around the country.
From notebook to website, The Strangers Project is a forum that invites people to share their stories anonymously and takes people-watching to a new level. All the stories he’s collected are available on the site.
This is where it gets interesting. The stories are categorized into Handwritten, Typed, or Themes. There is also a collection called TeacherSpeak, where teachers can share their front-line experiences and together create a collective voice.
To give you a sense of the power of what people share, here is a transcript of one of the most recent stories Brandon collected:
I was born in Colombia to a prostitute and a drug addict. I don’t know how old I was when I entered the foster care system but I stayed in it until i was 6. Throughout those 6 years I was sexually abused and drugged by my biological father. I was adopted by a beautiful family in the US who I love dearly. I’m beyond blessed and with their help I have achieved far beyond my dreams. Interestingly, what this experience and many others have taught me is that there is no way to move forward without forgiving. Forgive yourself for all your mistakes, they make up a part of who you are; forgive those who harmed you for they too were integral to your growing into who you are. Let the light in. Don’t let your past fears hold you back, I refuse to let mine.
The Strangers Project effectively takes single strands of life, in the form of stories, and weaves them beautifully into what we know as the fabric of our lives.
By providing a virtual listening ear and allowing people to speak their truth anonymously, he’s placing a stethoscope onto the heart of humanity, allowing us all to hear loud and clear our collective heartbeat.
Every one of us has a story. Many of us have more than one. The Strangers Project is a place to get that story off your chest. A place to see the beauty of who you are reflected back to you in the words of people you’ve never met.
Story-telling is not about being a good writer or even having a good story. It’s about giving voice to the human experience.
Good writing flows from a place of truth, conviction, and vulnerability. It is not about phrasing, symmetry, or subject. It is not about writing what we think people want to hear. A 7-year-old’s rhyme, a dying man’s last words, or a love sonnet are all poetry because we hear the truth in them.
The unedited, open-hearted truth.
What is your truth? What is your story?
Speak it, sing it, write it, paint it, create it. The world needs your contribution.
The world needs you.
Photo credit: The Strangers Project