1,000 journals, countless stories
Locked away in the drawers of nightstands around the world are the writings of many people, young and old. Journals brimming with tales of lost love or simply the happenings in a typical day at school are kept close at hand for those wishing to record their experiences.
Whether to gush about a secret crush in Pig Latin or to write down deep hopes and dreams, journals have always been a reliable way to document the story that is our life.
Brian Singer is the creator of a worldwide journaling project that began in 2000. Spending his youth tagging on bathroom walls at school, Singer grew up taking advantage of any space that he could find to jot down notes about his life on.
After he grew up and obtained the resources to take his love of communicating with strangers in the community around him further, Singer decided to head a social experiment, curious to see what would happen if he left 100 blank journals around San Francisco.
He wrote short instructions inside of each journals cover asking whoever discovered the journal to write, draw, cut, paste, or collage anything they felt like recording inside. Then they were asked to pass it along to another.
Once the journal was full the last person to contribute was asked to send it back to a given address.
The response and cooperation he received was staggering. Countless people from all cultures and ethnicities were more than willing to share their opinions, fears, poems, stories, art, photos, pictures and confessions unabashedly.
The journals were returned filled from cover to cover with personal advice, soul wrenching experiences and inspiring sketches.
One particular story that stood out, considering the extent of its honesty, is about a man named Tony who is desperate to get the approval of everyone by lying constantly to impress people. "I don't know why I lie, I lie about everything big and small," said Tony.
His reflection of his struggle to understand the origin of his need to be liked by everyone is easy to relate to and one quickly begins to identify with his pain and confusion.
All of the contributors chose to participate in a way that expressed a deep passion for connection and a chance to be heard. Their yearning for attention and the ability to contribute to something greater than themselves was prevalent and inspiring.
People of all ages and walks of life clearly had the need to create and when they found themselves unable to do so in front of their family and peers this opportunity to journal became a soft, warm embrace.
After the success of the first phase, Brian decided to expand his project to 1,000 journals and sent them all around the world. The journals have reached people across all 50 states in abroad in 40 different countries.
This month, 15 of the original 1,000 journals sent across the globe are part of an exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. You can also see countless scans from other journals hung all over the walls, as well as a short movie describing the exhibit's origins.
When asked what this display inspires her to do, Susan Lucas, a journal contributor, said, "[It] makes me want to look for more opportunities to be creative." She also stated that the reason she thinks people aren't involved in creating as much is because, "It never comes up as a priority, when it should be."
Howard Goldberg was seen at the exhibit this weekend tentatively writing in one of the display journals. When asked how he felt about the whole experience he calmly answered "Very comfortable. I write poetry and used to teach my kids to write in their journals constantly. It promotes creativity."
Due to the success of the original project, Skirball decided to contribute with their own experiment and send out 10 of their own journals around the L.A. area to different community partners, social service agencies, senior centers, art collectives and literacy programs.
For those interested in visiting the exhibit, or learning more about how you can get involved visit the Skirball Cultural Center at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. or www.1000journals.com