The Stranger Project: Vancouver man tackling city’s unfriendly reputation
Published Friday, January 17, 2014 6:59PM PST
Last Updated Friday, January 17, 2014 7:09PM PST
It’s not always easy getting strangers to stop and talk in Vancouver, a city that has gained a reputation for being somewhat unfriendly.
But one man has set out to change that with a new project that forces him to meet a new person every day of the year – that’s 365 new friends.
“I have all my thoughts in my head and everybody walking by has their own thoughts and their own stories,” Colin Easton said. “And I just thought, what would it be if we were to stop and connect?”
So Easton created “The Stranger Project” to documents strangers’ everyday lives, including their hopes and dreams, along with a photo.
The project is inspired by a wildly successful blog called “Humans of New York,” and so far, it’s revealed some pretty fascinating people.
“Tom, the gentleman that I met on day 10,” he said. “He had a brain tumour and he spent a number of months in VGH and had such an amazing time there he donated $17,000 of his own money and bought VGH a bladder scanner. If I wasn’t doing this project I wouldn’t have met him.”
Easton said it’s not always easy to approach people he doesn’t know – “One person who obviously had a whole lot on her mind, she kind of flipped out and ran away from me,” he said. But he’s been surprised at how easily most people open up.
“I think once people recognize that I’m not just asking them inquisitive questions to steal their personal identity…people really do want to connect, they’re willing to talk,” he said. “I’ve had people turn it around on me and ask me my history and what I do.”
Easton uses the hashtag #notastranger in each post profiling a new person.
And while the project has been shedding light on other people’s lives, he said it’s been life-changing for him.
“I guess I’ve realized that if I want people to open up to me, I have to be open to them, and even when I’ve met the stranger for a day it’s having an add-on effect that I’m feeling more approachable,” he said.
Easton’s Facebook page detailing his encounters with a stranger each day can be found here.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Shannon Paterson