November 16, 2015 - My People Experience

November 16, 2015
It's been a tough few days. Sadness, confusion, reaction, disbelief. I know I'm not alone in this reality. I'm fortunate to have a longterm, core group of friends. They're my family; the five of us have known one another for some thirty-plus years. Two of these dear friends live in Paris. One was out of town last week, for work. My other friend was not. He was detained in the restaurant he was having dinner at, and then evacuated by police, and hid in a stairwell. He did get home safely, but of course, this was all far too close. 

The stories of bravery, selflessness and courage are the ones I read. They remind me to focus on the good, because there's far more good in the world, than their is evil. As Mr Roger's mother said "Look for the helpers..." White light for love and peace.

Since starting The Stranger Project - est. 2014, I've always been intentional about what posts I share here. I'm not into advertising, or recommending groups or other pages I like, enjoy or support. This is where you come to hear about other peoples stories, through my eyes. 

The bounty of experiences over the past 23 months has been stunning and unimaginable. The relationships, friends, connection, letters, comments, emails that I receive are all so moving. I've been rather contemplative the last few months.Generally, that's how things go for me. Whenever there's something for me to work through, I generally keep it all to myself. 

Even in the gap of my writing stories, there has been constant connection via TSP2014, for me. Connection with a phenomenal community of people that are interested in others, and along for the ride. There are so many people that I've gotten to know through this project. 

We never know just how much a kind word, or a thought can change someone's day or perspective, or experience. I am blessed with this project, and where it's brought me, all with a deep passion to connect.

Today, I think we could all use a little sliver of light. I mentioned some time ago, that I had received an email from a young man by the name of McKenzie. He's a grade ten student, and wanted to do a project for school, based around a concept similar to TSP2014. Turns out that his mother is a big supporter of my project. I know this because, as soon as he told me her name, I recalled seeing it in comments and likes and support on these stories.

McKenzie and I had a great Skype chat, and he told me about his motivation to do this as a project for school. McKenzie has committed to meeting strangers every day, for the month of November. We exchanged ideas about connection, and about approaching people randomly. We talked about peer pressure. McKenzie told me his friend's are supportive about his exploration in connecting with strangers. "That's why they're my friends." That was delightful to hear!

I can't tell you what a gift, an honour and a privilege it is for me to be a part of something that has such positive impact. To know that I've moved even one person, is incredible. To shift someone's perspective about others; a homeless person, or a drug addict, or a wealthy executive. Letting go of stereotypes and stigmas. To have folk recognize that we are all, at the very base of everything, first and foremost, people.

To inspire a young man to venture outside of his comfort zone, and connect with people... I'll never forget the smile that lit his entire face near the end of our Skype chat. Such a gift. 

I'm happy to share that McKenzie is knocking it out of the ballpark! He's even allowed his project to organically develop, and morph into it's own entity. Please do take a look at his project, give it a like and follow along - My People Experience. This young man is a change maker. He's one of my heroes. ‪#‎notastranger‬