Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Humans of St. Louis' Facebook Page Tells Stories, Makes Connections

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Humans of St. Louis' Facebook Page Tells Stories, Makes Connections

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Great things can happen simply by being recognized as human.

"She just walked up, and said, 'hey, can I talk to you for a second?'" Monique Reese said of her initial meeting with Lindy Drew. "And it just went from there."

Drew, 36, is one of the founders of Humans of St. Louis, a Facebook page that features portraits of people in and around St. Louis and snippets of wisdom or stories gleaned from interviews of them. The site is based on the popular Humans of New York, run by photographer Brandon Stanton, which has spawned a book and has recently raised more than $1.4 million for a Brooklyn middle school.

The Humans of St. Louis site recently featured Reese and her husband, Marion. Drew photographed them after walking down Wabada Avenue in north St. Louis and seeing them in front of a dilapidated home.

"I found it on Craigslist," Monique Reese explained, as posted on the site. "Bought it a week and half ago. It's hideous. It was only a $6,000 house, and it needs a lot of work. It was even raining inside. But it was affordable. And who wouldn't want to own a house and not pay rent? My husband said, 'It's our dream home.'"

That post sparked a huge response, and now volunteers have stepped forward to offer supplies, help and labor to renovate the house.

This is the first big "hands-on" project that has grown out of Humans of St. Louis since Drew teamed up last spring with Caroline Fish to launch the page.

Fish, 26, then a student at Washington University's George Brown School of Social Work, was a fan of Humans of New York. She'd expressed interest in creating such a site for St. Louis to a friend but lamented she didn't know any photographers. That friend introduced her to Drew, also a student at the school, who had a photography and journalism background. Drew is originally from Arizona and Fish from North Carolina. They had grown to love St. Louis during their time at the university.

"Once you get to know (St. Louis), the little coffee shops, or you take the MetroLink, you see this really amazing city that has all this life and all this story and all this history," said Fish. "And it's not really visible to people who come for just the day. I kind of wanted to put a face on the city."

Fish moved back to New York over the summer after graduation, but she helps maintain the site by monitoring reader comments, editing interviews and constantly talking and texting with Drew.

Drew often drives to different neighborhoods in St. Louis, taking her bike out of her car to ride around and find people to interview. She figures if somebody is outside, she can approach them. Sometimes friends come along to help conduct interviews. Standard questions include: "What was your most embarrassing moment?" "What's your greatest struggle?" "How do you know you're in love? …

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