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.
I first moved to St. George, entirely against my will, when I was 14 yrs. old. Since then, I have moved away and back several times. The last time I moved back was over 6 years ago. I was 33 and I realized how much I actually adore St. George. Of course, we have our fair share of problems — what city doesn’t? — but they are minor compared to other places I’ve lived. When I try and pinpoint what exactly keeps me here, the simplest answer is this: It feels like home. I have met many wonderful people here, including my fiancee Kayleen Williams, and I have had the privilege to become great friends with many of those individuals!
The varying hues of red that makeup our landscape create a perfect backdrop where retirees and university students blend together in a unique storm of wills and desires. And while I am no fan of the summers here, I love seeing our city grow and evolve. There is a little something for everyone, and if what we have isn’t what you want, you are just a short drive from other options.
Aside from working as a bookseller, helping kids find those books that speak to them, you might find me out here pushing all things creative. I was a two-time team member of southern Utah’s Poetry Team, which competed on a national level, as well as a host for the local open mic known as Storm the Mic. Sadly, the open mic isn’t operating as of right now, but I have some things in the works that will hopefully pan out and we can get it up and going once more. There are others in the community who inspire me to do more, to give back more, and I look forward to being able to do so.
I believe in being comfortable and approachable. I am a big guy, and have been told that I can come across as intimidating, so everything I do is with the idea to be as inviting and approachable as possible. I do have to admit that I quite possibly have an unhealthy love for beards! More often than not, you’ll see me sporting one of my own. As for my personal style of creative writing, I love capturing moments … for better or worse. It is within these moments, where time seemingly stands still, that I can find beauty and/or introspection.
There are times when I wish that our city would embrace growth and change. There are those times when it seems to cover it’s ears, stamp it’s feet, and shake it’s head no like a defiant child. I guess that’s expected. I believe, also, that we could be more inclusive and more accepting … and while I am seeing us head in that direction, it isn’t without a great amount of growing pains.