Humans of New York has been around for a long time, and is probably the first storytelling project I discovered; it has had a strong influence on me.
The principle is to portray random people encountered on the streets of New York. A picture, and a quote about themselves, that’s it.
The positivity in this storytelling is about the universality of the stories.
They’re all unique – everyone has had a unique life, with unique endeavours and unique feelings. But beyond the uniqueness, you realise they all have something in common: they’re all humans. They just have different things happening in their life, and they deal with it differently, but they’re all humans.
Some people are incredibly energetic and optimistic, like this old lady who’s been fostering little abandoned babies all her life.
Some are forgiving and reasonable, like this young journalist in a headscarf who covered so many Trump rallies and realised the participants were not bad people at all.
Some are actually terrible, people have had a life of failures, drug addictions or missed opportunities, and don’t understand why they’ve let this happen.
But many just live a simple, peaceful life, with daily struggles and conflicting feelings, like everyone else.
And it’s this universality that makes them human: there are only about fifteen or so universal needs that we all experience (comfort, security, caring for others, having fun, looking for recognition, etc), and any personal story is related to one of these.
So we can all empathise with each other, because we’re all from the same race – humans.