I recently wrote about his photography mega-project, Humans of New York, which was then on a global expedition, making the same altruistic waves overseas as it does within the five boroughs in which it originated. And here we are again with more of that feel good news. The humanitarian one man band, Brandon Stanton, is at it again, poised to change the world armed with little more than a camera and conversation.
This time the collision is a bit less strategized than a planned trip with the company of non-profit programs. Instead two simple coincidences, two people going about their routine unaware of the impending journey that would unfold with the good old help of right-place, right-time fate; the crossing of paths between a man with a camera and a boy with a story.
A bitesized interview with strangers is a normal day for Stanton. But the boy from Brownsville Brooklyn has led to a powerful fulcrum upon which pivots the very best manifestation of humanity.
This single paragraph has empowered a school, a neighborhood, a world, that is far too often burdened with cold shoulders and averted gazes. A paragraph and a photo that has not only resonated with millions, but has provoked inside its witnesses an outpouring of support and generosity.
Here is where it begins:
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
This simple paragraph, which, in so few words, portrays the power of hope that a positive role model can influence upon a negative circumstance, has provoked supporters around the world to join Ms. Lopez on the front lines of a war that permeates the lives and experiences of children.
And then this happened:
And help they did. Brandon set up a crowdfunding effort that sought to raise $100,000. The overwhelming response surpassed the goal TEN FOLD. In a mere five days the HONY community managed to raise $1 million from over 36,000 people.
Thus an even greater need was met:
Mrs. Lopez, a middle school principal inspired a young man, who in turn inspired the world. And now, 5 short days and $1 million dollars later, this unfortunate context has transformed into an inspiring testimony; a beacon of hope and encouragement for a group of scholars (as Mott Bridges Middle School refers to their attendees) and the rest of the world.
Followers of HONY have showed such compassion and generosity to this story, showing that a small gesture, like asking a child who influences them, can carry with it a grand and far reaching effect. One principal who sought to change a few lives through education is now domino affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. Brownsville, though geographically is limited to a little neighborhood in Brooklyn has infinitely permeated the households and hearts of so many around the world.
Small gestures can be just the match to light the explosion of change the world needs.
If you’d like to donate, click here.
All images and quotes are found on Humans of New York.