Humans of New York (HONY) is a famous photography blog that was started in 2010 and is run by a man named Brandon Stanton. Stanton didn't always want to be a photographer, and in fact has had many passions over the course of his young life. After losing a job at the Trading Board of Chicago, he decided to pick up his life and move to New York City to take portrait shots of strangers that he encountered on the streets. What started as an impulsive journey has now turned into a highly influential art project that has touched the lives of millions of people.
Stanton originally intended the portraits to be incorporated into an interactive map of New York City, but the project quickly started to take on a life of its own. Stanton would ask his subjects simple questions about themselves and their lives and began posting little snippets of these conversations alongside the photos. Before he knew it HONY was more of a storytelling platform than a map, and he decided to just roll with it. Now HONY has over eight million followers on social media, and Stanton's photos are seen by people all across the globe.
The boy that you see in the photo above, named Vidal, was one of Stanton's subjects. Stanton says that he met Vidal while walking through a housing project in Brownsville, Brooklyn. When he asked Vidal, "Who inspires you?" he had no idea that Vidal's answer would be the beginning of a series of events that would touch countless lives. Vidal said that his principal, Nadia Lopez, was the most influential person in his life. The famous quote that he gave to Stanton for HONY reads, "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."What Vidal didn't know at the time was that Lopez was struggling with her job and felt like she needed to quit. Only days after tearfully expressing these fears to her mother, Lopez saw Vidal's statement for HONY and everything took a sharp turn for the better.
After meeting Lopez, Stanton decided to use HONY's popularity and reach to help Lopez fundraise for the students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. They managed to raise over $1 million that will be used to send incoming sixth grade classes from Mott Hall to Harvard University's campus in Cambridge, MA so that they have the opportunity to get out of their troubled neighborhood and be inspired by one of the best universities in the country. This program stands to do immeasurable good for the disadvantaged students at Mott Hall. Giving these kids a tangible representation of higher education and college makes the possibility of attending college seem far more real and achievable.
We at SF Globe are so inspired by every single piece of this series of events. Our children are our future, and it is our responsibility to give as many of them as possible the best opportunities to succeed. Seeing the outpouring of support from strangers to help the students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy gives us hope that someday each child will have all the opportunity he or she needs to succeed academically. Have you ever heard of Humans of New York before? What did you think of Vidal and Ms. Lopez's story? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!