#OurChicagoStories Winter 2017
The past couple of months my and Rachel inbox's have been flooded with stories- with answers to questions we had carefully created to try and search into someones heart and find their individual Chicago Story. Every time we received a new set of answers from another person participating in #OurChicagoStories our hearts overflowed, there was beauty and vulnerability in the answers. There's something special about being asked intentional questions about our journey, everyone wants to be heard and everyone has the desire to be vulnerable but the world tells us that there's something wrong with that. We're told to hide behind a mask, to not reveal too much- and when we do have the opportunity to tell our story we must have a motive behind it. Whether it be to make the person listening like you, hire you, affirm you- and with all of these motives our stories begin to shape into an altered version of the real thing. We have the desire to create a space with #OurChicagoStories where people can tell the real version of their stories- the messy, the beautiful, the complicated, the confused, the incomplete. The reality is, there is beauty in the journey even amongst the messy and we want to hear that, we want to share that.
As I received all of the answers I actually became overwhelmed, how can I even begin to share the words I had been given? I want to shout it all out, I want everyone to read every bit of it, I want everyone to have the opportunity to meet each individual involved in #OurChicagoStories.
I think something I am most excited about in sharing these stories and photos hand-in-hand is the emotion captured within the photos and the emotion revealed within the words. One of my favorite parts about this passion project is that the day the photos are captured we speak to the individual or pair being photographed the whole time, we create a space for them to begin speaking about their Chicago story- what brought them here, why they love it, why they feel challenged by it. In those moments true emotion is captured in a photo, its less posed, less curated- it becomes real and creates a moment of vulnerability.
What I've decided to do is focus on three questions for each #OurChicagoStories series post. I will talk about the heart behind the question, the importance of the question, and then insert in quotes from the people participating.
What are some of the reasons you love living in Chicago? If you live here, there has to be a reason you love it or maybe a list of reasons. Daily I think of things I love about this city I live in, daily I realize that there is so much beauty in one city- it almost overwhelms me at times. That being said, we wanted to hear from other Chicagoans what their hearts feel as they walk down the streets of Chicago, hop on the L to work, and spend time with the community around them.
What do you find challenging about living in Chicago? Chicago is not an easy city, it's busy, it's loud, it can be harsh, it's broken. Getting from point A to point B sometimes takes double the time it should, you have to walk up and down flights of stairs to accomplish small tasks, people are constantly coming and going when new opportunies arise. We all feel it, and we wanted to know what others think when they say, "I love Chicago but..." We all need to know we're not alone in feeling challenges amongst joys.
Why do you stay? This question is one of my favorites. It makes you stop and think, it causes time of reflection. So amongst the challenges, and amongst the joys, amongst the changes- why are you here? Why haven't you left? I think this question gives people the opportunity to have a raw moment of vulnerability. Some of the people involved aren't staying, their futures are unknown and they may not be comforted by that. But some feel they are here for life, there are reasons they feel that this is their forever home, reasons they've chosen to embrace the challenges and build a life here.
So, there's a glimpse into some very special people's Chicago Stories. As I said earlier, there's so much more to share and I cannot wait to continue to share bits and pieces of each and every one of these stories. Head over to #OurChicagoStories on both my and Rachel's Instagram accounts and we will be continuing to share quotes, photos, & raw vulnerable stories from the wonderful people in this beautiful, yet challenging, city.
All Photos by Rachel Loewen Photography.