It’s funny (tragically) and sobering how proximity is meaningless in bringing people together. We live next to people we barely know, beyond saying “Hi.” All I know of them is what their name, what they look like, what they do for a living, etc. Some, I don’t even know, period. Sometimes, people are just there. And because of that, they fade away and we forget about them.
The good thing is, that story is one of the best bridges between people and “Hello! Neighbour” utilized this so effectively. We (Donna and I) were so privileged to be part of this amazing initiative. In East Van, Alexander Street divides two worlds: a shiny, high profile, high end world of beautiful aesthetic, design and productivity; and a world of not so shiny, marginalized and mostly intentionally forgotten people.
The Railyard cohort (interns working for Dossier) wanted to bridge the gap between these two worlds separated by a street using the power of story. For the video portion, we assisted with interviewing four people, two people who worked in the neighbourhood and two people who lived in the low-cost residence across the street. The idea was that we would show the story of someone who worked in the neighbourhood to someone who lived in the neighbourhood, people who would normally never talk to one another and see their reactions.
What we saw was that we are all human. I know it is so cliché and cheesy to say that. Or even painfully obvious. But the fact of the matter is that we routinely forget this. I routinely forget this when I encounter someone who is different from me. Or looks like they’re down on their luck. Or whatever. We forget that we are actually somehow connected in this grand narrative called life and we have something to share with one another. And that’s our journey, our experiences and memories that we have accumulated as we live. The stories that were shared were so real and the reactions to each others stories was so touching.
This was an amazing experience and it reminds me that what we do in telling stories can help change the world and make it a friendlier place, a place where we can say “Hello!” to our neighbours and share in the human experience.
For the individual stories that were filmed and shared with the participants, see below!