In 2010, Stephanie Glaros began walking to work in downtown Minneapolis with a Canon 5D Mark III camera around her neck, asking the people she encountered along the way if she could take their photographs. She did this in an effort to break through the social barriers she felt between herself and others. The practice became a personal project called Minneapolis Strangers, and it took her completely out of her comfort zone. She relaunched the project in 2013 as Humans of Minneapolis, inspired by the storytelling project Humans of New York and other “Humans of” projects around the world. She shared her photographs and interviews online, developing a social media following of over 70,000, and published the book Humans of Minneapolis in 2016.
While researching her book, Glaros got back in touch with many of her former subjects. She learned that when people’s stories were shared, they had more of an impact than she realized. Her subjects had made connections both online and in real life. One interview helped convince a small town to hold its first LGBTQ Pride parade. Another helped bolster the family of a man dying of cancer. Many subjects expressed gratitude, saying the positive comments from followers helped build their personal confidence. That’s when the idea for the Humans of Minneapolis nonprofit organization was born.
“I want to take the platform I’ve built and use it to create positive change, and I think Minneapolis is a great place to do it,” says Glaros. “It’s big enough to have people of many different backgrounds who can learn from one another. But it’s also small enough that you could run into people who you’ve ‘met’ on Humans of Minneapolis. I hope you will join us in our goal of connecting people through storytelling.”