In an age of digital communication, Ben McLellen and Levi Durston are exploring the art of conversation.
“There’s a real story behind each person we see. And it doesn’t take much to get part of that story,” said Ben McLellan, founder of Humans of Regina.
Humans of Regina is one of many social experiments that encourages people to get off the web, and onto the streets. It sees photographers approach a stranger, and then post a photo and quote from the conversation online.
Vancouver’s Colin Easton started The Stranger Project in January, after he realized his online profile was growing, while his physical social network was diminishing.
“I get to walk around the streets now, and almost every day I run into somebody that I’ve spoken to, and there’s like a friendly wave hello in like a Mister Rogers’ neighborhood, if you will,” said Easton.
But that initial approach isn’t always easy.
“Sometimes you might hit a brick wall. But other times, you’re going to be amazed at what you can find out about a person in literally just three or four minutes,” said Durston.
While the concept has gained plenty of traction online, its primary function is to enable real interactions with those around us.
“Regina is a good sized town, and people don’t know each other. I mean, you can even not know people who live on your block or in your apartment building — unless you make a real effort,” said Valerie Phillips, who has lived in Regina for over 30 years.
The way McLellan and Durston see it, humanity is just a conversation away.
“As far as I’m concerned, if the population is 200,000 or so in Regina, we have at least a cap of 200,000 photos to take,” said Durston.