Humans of St. Louis: The Book Now Available
With support from the St. Louis Community Foundation and other funders, Humans of St. Louis (HOSTL) has self-published Humans of St. Louis: The Book. The stunning, full-color, coffee table book features hundreds of portraits and stories gleaned from individuals of different backgrounds, weaving in history and revealing contemporary social issues.
“The St. Louis Community Foundation was instrumental in getting Humans of St. Louis: The Book off the ground,” said Lindy Drew, MPH, MSW. Drew is the co-founder of Humans of St. Louis and serves as lead storyteller and book co-author. “We were going around, knocking on doors, seeing who could help. The Community Foundation immediately understood our purpose, and it catapulted from there. Without them we absolutely would not have been able to make this book.”
HOSTL is a nonprofit that shares first-person stories and photographic portraits of people and places in St. Louis. With over 130,000 social media followers, HOSTL gives their audiences an “intimate look into the lives and struggles of the people of St. Louis, one photo and story at a time.” Their mission is to leverage storytelling through interviews and photography that highlight local needs, issues, and experiences.
How does it work? Storytellers roam neighborhoods and streets, approaching anyone who seems available to have a conversation. After introducing themselves and the concept of HOSTL, they jump right into a casual interview and photo shoot with open-ended questions such as “What are you most proud of?”, allowing subjects to choose where the story goes from the topics they bring up. These “photostories” are published daily on social media in a rapid-fire, honest look into life in the Lou.
Humans of St. Louis: The Book offers the reader a completely different experience than scrolling through social media. “By taking the stories offline, we encourage the reader to sit with the book and see how people’s stories intertwine. You might flip to a new page and realize two very different people are talking about the same thing,” said Drew. Drew and a team of local creatives worked together on the design and narrative flow of the book.
Drew said, “This is my St. Louis experience as seen through my camera, but we want people to experience the book for themselves and see what they are drawn to. St. Louis made this: it was started here and made by people from here.”