In September of 2010, New York-based photographer Brandon Stanton started a side project he called “Humans of New York,” or HONY. Stanton’s idea was to create a visual catalog of the people living in New York. Photographing strangers he met on the street, Stanton soon began collecting their stories. The project showed a very human side of a city that can sometimes seem full of nameless faces. Since HONY started in 2010, hundreds of other photographers have followed Stanton’s example. There are Humans of Chicago, Humans of Austin, and even recently a Humans of Salt Lake.

So, why start a Humans of St. George (HOSG)? Since I moved here in 2010, I’ve noticed many divisions in St. George, and southern Utah by extension. But when it comes down to it, we’re all just people, and it’s a lot harder to place someone in that “other” category once you know them a little.

The goal of Humans of St. George is to help us see the humanity in each other, especially in those we see as different from ourselves. Project subjects are generally met on the streets of St. George and always asked the same five questions. “How did you end up in St. George (and/or) what has kept you here?” “Where do you fit in in St. George?” “How would you describe your personal sense of style?” (Can go deeper than clothing.) “How would you describe St. George to someone who has never been here?” “If you could have one wish for the St. George area, what would it be?”

I hope you enjoy this exploration of our community.

Leigh Pectol

“I am a native of St. George, born and raised. My family has lived in southern Utah for generations as descendants of the early Mormon pioneers. I always thought that I would leave St. George and live elsewhere for at least awhile, but once I had my children with my husband, we realized how important it is to have family around to help with raising our children. The old adage of “It takes a village” is very much true. One thing I really appreciate about living here is that it is so family friendly. The city is relatively safe, and there are so many places to have fun as a family. I especially admire the efforts the city has made in creating parks and events that are family friendly.

I don’t really know where I fit in here in St. George. I have my family and a few friends, but I am not really a part of the larger community. I have social anxiety, and it is difficult for me to engage with people. I often cannot muster the courage to try new things or meet new people. I have had many years of counseling to help me better cope with my disorder, but it has never fully gone away. The biggest factor in becoming better at presenting myself in public has been becoming a mom. It was after I had my daughter that I really pushed myself to be a better example to her (and now also to my son). Most people don’t even realize that I have a problem because they never see the ‘behind the scenes’ me.

I suppose if I fit in anywhere, it is by living a quiet life as a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. I work, but my work isn’t impressive, nor does it get me out in the community. In fact, I love my job because it allows me to work in a behind-the-scenes fashion. I also try to be a decent neighbor, if one that mostly keeps to herself.

I love to read all kinds of books, and I usually have one in my purse and at least one or two audio books loaded onto my phone for listening on the go. Reading is not just entertaining but also educational. I have learned so much about myself and the world through books.

St. George is, in a word, beautiful. I never appreciated the beauty when I was growing up here as a child, but now I fully appreciate the desert beauty.

If I could have one wish for St. George, it would be that there would be more places for young adults to socialize and meet. St. George tends to cater to either families or retired persons, and it doesn’t really have many places where young single people can go. I know that the area is still growing, but there is room for the community to try and include this specific demographic more.”

[H.O.S.G] is a project by DME Creative Services Follow on Instagram @DME_UTAH or @DMEcreativeservices on Facebook

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Humans of St. George