Humans of LBCC

The early morning Southern California sun was beating on the pavement along the harbor that mirrored the buildings along the shorefront of Long Beach. The first rays of sun had beaten back the grey clouds of the last few days, and people had come out of hiding to enjoy the lazy Sunday morning. The swarms of journalism students had dissipated to a few straggling around the hotel lobby of the Hyatt Regency, leaving residents in peace.

Taking my camera from the cluttered clutches of my duffel bag, I walked out into the foray of runners, couples mulling about, and shop keepers opening for the day’s business. Along the boardwalk the boats in the harbor bobbed up and down, their sails dipping and spraying flocks of seagulls into the warm air. Walking past the neat white hulls of sailboats shining in the Pacific Ocean, I encountered the humans who call Long Beach, California home.

As a journalism student, I have come to appreciate lives filled with stories, stories that dance among us in every interaction that we have with our fellow mankind. It’s impossible to separate a person from the experiences that make up the entirety of them. To see someone, is to see the world in which they inhabit, but it is also a lens to understand the world which we ourselves live.

“Humans of New York” is a project started by Brandon Stanton. Moving from Chicago to New York, he set out in 2010 to photograph 10,000 portraits of those he met around the city. This turned into a completely different project: not only was he documenting images of humans, he was documenting the very thing that makes a human, the thing you can’t separate from a subject: their human experience.

Losing myself among the shoreline of the harbor, camera slung on my shoulder, I moved in and out of the colorful shops that dot the Seaside Village. Turning a corner, a man stood under the patio of a casual restaurant. No one had yet arrived to eat their breakfast, but this waiter’s dutiful look made me stop in my tracks.

Not wanting to be identified by last name, Chris looked on with that professional expression on his face, which is as much a part of his job as it is a part of himself.

“Do you like living in California?” I asked, as a few of my previous questions had bounced off his resolute features.

“You know, I do. I moved out here from the Midwest to take care of my grandfather. He was dying and needed someone to care for him. I just never really looked back after that,” he said as I reached for my camera and casually snapped a few photos of him standing his post.

In that brief moment of interaction, Chris had delved into something that I couldn’t have foreseen. From what he said, and later through looking at my camera roll, I could piece together a small story of this man. I could see him standing with his grandfather as he lay dying, and he must have looked just as he did in the photograph—protective, imposing, but altogether genuine in himself.

Looking toward the future, we at The Commuter would like to honor the human stories within all the students of LBCC. To tell these stories, we would like to start a new feature within our student newspaper; Humans of LBCC. If you would like to contribute ideas to the project, and to let us know what you think of it, feel free to drop by the The Commuter office, follow us on Twitter @LBCommuter, or get involved by writing a letter to the editor. We want to hear from our readership, because without humans we can’t tell the human story.

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