Meeting 6 Billion Neighbors
In this world, and especially in this economy, the key word is often "connections." Who you know, and your relationship with them, can often be the key to finding a new job, a partner for a freelance project, and even a romance. But how often do we actually think of these connections about who they are, rather than what they can do for us? That was similar to what Yann Arthus-Bertrand had in mind when he developed the 6 Billion Others project.
6 Billion Others is a video project organized by GoodPlanet.org which sent 6 directors off on trips around the globe, where they filmed the life stories (told first-hand, oral history-style) of 6,000 individuals. Using close-ups and realistic filming techniques, directors attempted to capture the stories of these people, in order to portray their experiences in the most true-to-life method possible. The purpose? "6 Billion Others tries to draw a portrait of contemporary mankind by asking questions about universal values," and "raising awareness regarding the world's problems and sustainable development."
Arthus-Bertrand describes the use of the site in three steps: Tesifying, Listening, and Thinking. Visitors to the website will be able to record their own testimonials, watch any of the 6,000 videos recorded professionally, and then digest it all in their own time. So why is this so exciting? It's a project that focuses on the differences and similarities of people throughout the globe, and has the potential ability to foster connections and a level of understanding that many of us are missing today. If a farmer in Tennessee can listen, face to face, to a story of a farmer in Ghana, chances are he will be less racist in his own life. If a child in London can listen to a story of a child laborer in China, the former will grow up more aware of labor rights. Human connections leading to intellectual growth leading to altered behavior. Bingo. This is web video I can get behind.
So what can we take from this? Whether it be through 6 Billion Others, or just day-to-day interactions in your own life, we should start paying attention to our neighbors. We might be surprised by how much we learn, and how it can change our lives for the better.