In Washington Square Park, we ran into Brandon Doman, founder of The Strangers Project, an on-going collection of over 10,000 handwritten journal entries Doman has collected from around the country. The enticing and friendly, “HI THERE!” sign drew our eye and we read some of the fascinating entries while chatting with Doman. He started the idea just on a whim at a coffee shop because he was suddenly curious about all hundreds of people walking by. Using a marker he wrote, “Hi there! Please stop and share your story!” which evolved into the current project.
Though based in Brooklyn, Doman has traveled around the country with The Strangers Project as well. He’s fascinated by what he calls “spontaneous intimacy,” something that all New Yorkers are cognizant of and trigger naturally in their daily routine. Everything in The Strangers Project is done face to face .
As Doman writes, “Sharing stories helps us learn about each other, and in turn, about ourselves. For a moment, it doesn’t matter if you’re a business person, a student, a homeless person, a secretary, a teacher, a child, a doctor, a traveler, a mother or a father—we all share something common. We can be people and we can invite those around us in, and for a moment, we can share something real. Every person that you pass on the street has a story to share. We are all just waiting for the right time for someone else to listen.”
At his stations, Doman has clipboards, pens and paper. A sampling of collected entries are in several binders. And Doman is there, ready to listen, discuss, and hear your stories. Get a daily new story at the Strangers Project website.