EVAN DRISCOLL IS A HUMAN, AND A COLLEGE DROP-OUT

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Your Name: Evan Driscoll

Age: 23

Location: Camping around Southwest Michigan

Occupation: Computer Programmer

Where did you come from? I came from nothing. I came from  middle-class family. I came from 40 acres to play around on. I spent a lot of time in the woods, building things with my brother.

A Fear: Generalized artificial intelligence. I’m not an expert, but the people who are experts are pretty wary of this stuff, or so I hear.

A Goal: To build a nurturing and healing community, maybe in the form of a camp.

A Memory: The first time I went to camp, I found myself in a completely different environment, and that radical change enabled me to relate to people in a way that i never had before. it was scary and invigorating. It opened up doors for me, socially.

A Mistake: There are times that I wish I had more honest communication with others. There was a specific relationship I was in that I avoided communicating openly, and because of that, we both suffered.

A Hero: Buckminster Fuller. That guy who didn’t give a hoot. He persevered with his ideas and was steadfast in his integrity.

A Fault: Being a workaholic, and not respecting my own needs (specifically my need for sleep.)

A Talent: I play multiple instruments (piano, saxophone, guitar, drums) and speak multiple languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic.)

A Prized Possession: A well and a pump.

A Need: Affection.

I want More: solitude and accessibility to natural surroundings

I want Less: time with electronics

What would you change about the world? In my heart of hearts, i wouldn’t change a thing, but if i had my way, i would flip the switch on electricity except for medical equipment for a few days. I think the world could use a snap back to reality.

What do you love about yourself? My tenacity.

ASHLEY JONES IS A HUMAN, AND A BLACK FEMINIST

Ashley Jones

 Name: Ashley M. Jones

Age: 24

Location: Miami, Florida

Occupation: Student, Instructor, Community Outreach Aficionado

Where did you come from? I’m from Birmingham, Alabama, and I’ll be moving back there in just a couple of weeks. Miami is also called the Magic City, but Birmingham is the original (my original, anyway).

A Fear: Never falling in love

A Goal: becoming president of a university and a mom of four

A Memory: I went to my senior prom without a date, but I ended up dancing with the boy I liked, anyway.Stole him!

A Mistake: Allowing someone to disrespect me repeatedly until I believed all the bad things they said about me.

A Hero: My dad–he’s a Fire Chief, paramedic, and manager of the EMS services in Birmingham. He works so hard for us, and he never complains. He is happy when we’re happy, no matter how tired he is. I learned how to serve others from him. I also learned how to be goofy and tell corny jokes.

A Fault: I’m too guarded sometimes…and I overthink everything. The poet’s mind, I tell you!

A Talent: I’m an excellent whistler. And I can sing all the words to “La Bamba.”

A Prized Possession: not sure…I don’t think I possess much that can be prized. I really treasure the shape of my eyes…but I guess that’s not a possession.

A Need: A man who can tap dance, who loves poetry, and who can sing along to all my favorite songs. Ahem, I mean, I need a book contract for my poetry manuscript!! Priorities…

I want More: laughter

I want Less: financial worry

What would you change about the world? I would give everyone the gift of chill. That is, I would give people the power to relax, appreciate everyone else, and stay out of each others’ religions, sexualities, wallets, etc. Live and let live, world!!!

What do you love about yourself? Now, I love everything. I love that I learned how to love myself. It wasn’t always that way, but I’m glad I made it to this loving place.

ERIN MCKELLE IS A HUMAN, AND IS ALSO FAT

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Name: Erin McKelle

Age: 20

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Occupation: Freelance writer, social media strategist, communications whiz, and badass feminist blogger

Where did you come from? I was born in Columbus and adopted by a family who lived in the suburbs of Cleveland, where I grew up and spent the entirety of my childhood.

A Fear: That I won’t reach my professional goals. I’ve always been very ambitious and been successful in my ventures, but I’m always thinking about what’s next. I want to make my passions my career, which I’ve been able to do so far at a young age. Even writing this, I’m realizing my fear may be irrational or more likely a part of the high standards I set for myself.

A Goal: To revitalize my physical fitness and not let working out fall by the wayside. I truly enjoy the rush I feel when I exercise and want to cultivate that more consistently.

A Memory: During the end of my first year of college, I was walking to my dorm after a particularly great therapy session and work day at my university’s LGBT Center, where I was interning. I remember seeing the tall trees and the pretty brick buildings and thinking to myself that if God existed, this is what it would feel like. Since then, it’s been hard to call myself an atheist.

A Mistake: I don’t believe in regrets or mistakes- if you learn from something (and you can learn from any experience), it becomes valuable. But I would say that I’ve made the mistake of being too self-conscious and not putting myself out there because I feared being rejected. It’s amazing how a subtle shift in your attitude can make all of the difference in the quality of your life.

A Hero: Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to ever complete the qualifying course on America Ninja Warrior. I remember seeing the clip of her conquering the course last summer and being so inspired- she truly embodies the power of womanhood. She also connects me back to body positivity, as she used her height and small stature to her advantage, when others insisted it would bring her down.

A Fault: I’m often passive-aggressive and it’s something that I’m trying very hard to let go of. It’s a behavioral pattern I picked up during my childhood and never realized how it’s affected my relationships until recently. Also, it’s usually better to be direct with people- I find it creates a lot less stress.

A Talent: Writing. From a very young age I’ve always loved to write and it’s been a talent I’ve been complimented on since I was in elementary school. My writing is usually what connects me to people and what I’ve found has been the most impactful to others, which has been such a blessing.

A Prized Possession: My teddy bear Daisy- I’ve had her since I was an infant! She’s a classic looking bear with black eyes, a red bow, and brown fur. We’ve been cuddle companions for twenty years and I never plan on abandoning her! She’s been with me through everything and I still sleep with her in my bed to this day.

A Need: Privacy and personal space. I’m very introverted, so I naturally need to have my alone time away from other people. If I don’t get this, it’s hard for me to really concentrate on anything. Being alone revitalizes my spirit!

I want More: Face to face contact. Up until recently, all of the people I’ve dated have been long-distance and most of my friendships were as well. I now value seeing and being with someone in real time, offline and want to bring more of this into my life.

I want Less: Job insecurity! Since I’ve decided to pursue freelancing full-time, it means that I don’t have a salary or anything to really fall back on if things don’t work out. This makes me work that much harder, but it would be nice to not have to worry about what I’ll be doing six months from now or how I’ll pay the bills if I don’t find another contract after one ends.

What would you change about the world? I would eliminate violence as a whole. We’re so quick to insult, ridicule, hit, curse, and beat on others and it’s very disturbing to me. I see more and more violence in mainstream media and it’s perfectly acceptable to violate others if it means getting what you want. If we could stop using violence in our lives, including verbal and emotional violence, we could repair so much. I know that for me, most people will use my size as a weapon against me when they are trying to hurt, but because I’ve embraced who I am and what I look like, it’s transformed this negative into a positive. I want to see that same thing happen for a whole host of issues.

What do you love about yourself? My passion and enthusiasm for life. It’s something a lot of people notice when they interact with me and I think it’s a quality that isn’t cultivated enough in our world.

ANNIK ADEY-BABINSKI IS A HUMAN, AND A POET

Annik Adey-Babinski

Your Name: Annik Adey-Babinski

Age:  27

Location: Miami, Florida

Occupation: Student/Teacher

A Fear: That I’m making the wrong choices.

A Goal:  To be spiritually balanced–happy.

A Memory: A spring bike ride in Montreal to Park Jean Drapeau with my friend on rollerblades. We looped around the Grand Prix raceway circuit.

A Mistake: Repeatedly misunderstanding social cues.

A Hero: Dorothea Lasky

A Fault: Obsession.

A Talent: Generating work-flows–efficiency.

A Prized Possession: The 2001 VW Golf I drove to Miami from Canada three years ago.

A Need: A sense of safety and security.

I want More: Downtime.

I want Less: Car time.

What would you change about the world? The fact that simple clerical errors or spates of bad luck can bring financial ruin to a family, with no safety net.

What do you love about yourself? I moved to Miami without knowing anyone or ever having been to the city, and this sense of adventure has allowed me to live in wildly different parts of the world (for example: the Canadian North and South Florida).

DEQA ELMI IS A HUMAN, AND AN AFRICAN

Deqa Elmi-Buursma

Name: Deqa Elmi

Age: 24

Location: Accra, Ghana

Occupation: School librarian, nurse at Liberty American School

Where did you come from: I was born in Somalia but after the Civil war my family and I migrated to Kenya where I lived until I was 13 years old before moving to America.

A Fear: Fear of failure. The thought of not doing things right scares me. I know some people say that fear helps to protect us, makes us be alert and prepares us to deal with our fear but in my case I hate the feeling of being fearless. I think this is one of my weakness in life.

A Goal: Be happy, healthy, have close friendship, exploring, being inspired and appreciating beauty. One example is I love fashion and being artesian in my own wardrobe. I would like to think I am my own person. When it comes to that I express myself through my style and I wear what makes me feel gracefully at ease. I hope one day to have my own store which will be full of international goods. With that said, I would like to build a successful business from scratch.

A Memory: A recent one is, my husband Derek and I visited Kenya. It was Derek’s first time and for me (10 plus Years). The memories of my childhood came floating back. Derek and I talked about our homelands and about the experiences of living. The more we talked and shared memories, questions like how long I’ve been gone came to mind and you realize that here (home) has gone on without you. People have grown up, they’ve moved, married, they’ve become completely different people and so have I. It’s hard to deny that the act of living in another county, in another language really changes you. Sometimes I felt that so much has happened in my absence, that so much has changed. The feeling of being an outsider trembled my mind and fear starts to tremble and weaken me as I think back of the memories found there. Some people might say you are different when you move to a new county but I have matured and accumulated a lot of wisdom over the years in the two places I call home.

A Hero: My mother. Like a lot of single moms, she had to struggle to work and care for eight children and at the time in an unfamiliar county, language and culture. Seeing her over come challenges in life, instilled in me the sense that I can do anything.

A Prized Possession: My wedding ring. My ring is a sign of love and fidelity between myself and husband, I cherish the memories and relationship it symbolizes.

I Want Less: Stuff and things that clutter and take away space. I want to make memories not take up space with non meaningful things.

I Want More: TRAVEL!

What would you change about the world: Human nature. For humans to put ethics before greed, and courage before fear. And to take away the illusion of body image so people can see the heart and character of the person.

What do you love about yourself: My natural hair. Growing up, I hated my hair because I never knew how to take care of it. Now, I love my hair, its BIG, CURLY and GORGEOUS.

DUSTIN DAVIS IS A HUMAN, AND A STAY-AT-HOME DAD

DUSTIN DAVIS

Your Name: Dustin Davis

Age: 32

Location: St. Louis, MO

Occupation: Part Stay-at-Home dad, part freelance designer

A Fear: My family does rely on my freelance work. In the past, were times when I feared about finances. But really, in the end, I knew that God would provide all of our needs and that fearful thoughts were not something I should entertain.

A Goal: To manage my business and parent my child as best and as efficiently as possible. It’s hard juggling both especially after a long day with a crying baby.

A Memory: The moment my daughter was born. Still brings tears to my eyes – happy tears of course. It really was the happiest day of my life.

A Mistake: I’ve made a lot of them in my life. But I really think they shaped me into who I am today. I regret a lot of them, but in the end they ended up being lessons learned.

A Hero: I wouldn’t really say I have a hero. But my dad would be close – especially now that I have my own child. Looking back on how he influenced my life gives me hope in how I will influence my child[ren].

A Fault: Hoarding the parenting role (if that makes any sense). Ugh. I hate it and my wife does too. And sometimes I loose patience, especially in the middle of the night when there’s a screaming baby.

A Talent: Oh gosh. I hate talking about myself in this way. HA! My wife says I’m great with people, great photographer and designer, and great with problem solving. Not sure if those are talents or skills

A Prized Possession: Probably my camera[s]. I love documenting life, especially now with our girl.

A Need: Hmmm. I can’t think of any NEEDS. A lot of wants. I would love for a way for my wife to be able to stay home too so we can just all be together all the time.

I want More: Patience. I really think if there’s anything specific to my life, it’s that. And more date nights with my wife.

 I want Less: Sometimes I think I want less stuff. Sometimes I want to just simplify my life. But it would be a shock and would be so hard to do that.

What would you change about the world? Why can’t we all just get a long? I feel there is so much hatred in the world. It sounds hippy, but we need more love.

What do you love about yourself? I love that I’m so awesome. Seriously though. I feel I am a leader – and I really like that. I think that it’s really helped me in a lot of my life, especially my life as a husband, father and with my business.

SHANNON JAMMAL-HOLLEMANS IS A HUMAN, AND A REVEREND

SHANNON JAMMAL-HOLLEMANS

Name: Shannon Jammal-Hollemans

Age: 38

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Occupation: Collaborative Program Developer for the Christian Reformed Church

Where did you come from? Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have not ventured far.

A Fear: That in my efforts to serve the Church, I am sacrificing too much time with my children.

A Goal: To be one of the many people who makes the Christian Reformed Church a place where everyone belongs.

A Memory: About 12 years ago, I was driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside Asheville, North Carolina. It was still the early hours of the morning and it was completely dark. My husband slept beside me in the passenger seat while my children slept in the back. I drove through one of the tunnels carved into a mountain, and when I came out, the sky was alive—vibrant yellows and oranges and pinks and reds. I began to cry so fiercely that I had to pull over. God was before me, face to face. I was at once devastated and jubilant. God’s grace has never been so clear.

A Mistake: I used to think I could change people, and spent far too much time and energy trying to do so.

A Hero: Malcom X

A Fault: In my introversion, I can push people away.

A Talent: Trivia

A Prized Possession: My tweezers (I am an Arab woman.)

A Need: Grace. Lots of it.

I want More: Courage

I want Less: Fear

What would you change about the world? More belonging, justice, and grace.

What do you love about yourself? I am beautiful. Like, really, really beautiful. It’s a gift.

BEN OSBORN IS A HUMAN, AND A LAWYER

BEN OSBORN IS A HUMAN, AND A LAWYER

Name: Ben Osborn

Age:  28

Location: NYC

Occupation: Attorney

Where did you come from?  A small Midwestern city where the land is pancake flat, a twelve-inch snowfall is considered moderate, and the dominant social institution for most people I knew was their church.

A Fear:   Can I list two?  Currently my biggest long-term fear is that I’ll end up spending most of the time and energy I’ve been allotted in life on activities that are neither personally fulfilling nor improve the world (even in a small way).  Day-to-day, my biggest recurring fear (almost always realized) is that I will be too lazy/unmotivated/bored to make it through half of my to-do list.

A Goal:  Start a profitable company that makes life better for everyone it touches:  customers, employees, investors, me.

A Memory:  Once when I was a kid, I was staying at my grandparents’ lake-house and I got sunburn so bad I couldn’t sleep all night from the itching.  But because I was awake at 6am, I got to see a beautiful blue-tinted sunrise come up over the lake.  The memory is important to me because it was one of the first times I started to think about the world in an amoral way.  Some things (like sunburn) suck; others (like sunrises) are awesome.  There are no rules that parcel out the suckness and the awesomeness according to what you “deserve”.  All you can do is use whatever tools you’ve been given, to gather as much awesome as you can, and avoid all the suck you can.  No one else is going to do it for you.

A Mistake:  Probably the only thing I’d classify as a true mistake, is not having made more mistakes.  If I go through an entire project without making any mistakes, then I know I didn’t push hard enough on that project, and I could have accomplished far more.  I spent my first thirty years deathly afraid of making mistakes; I plan to spend the next thirty making lots of them.

A Hero:  I don’t really believe in heroes anymore.  When I was a kid my heroes were the people I believed were geniuses who had done impossibly difficult things.  Now I don’t really believe in geniuses, in the sense of people who make unfathomable leaps inaccessible to the rest of us.  The people who accomplish remarkable things just put one foot in front of the other until they’ve built up enough baby steps to seem impressive.

A Fault:  repressed emotion, every true Midwesterner’s curse.

A Talent: I’m a pretty decent amateur pianist.

A Prized Possession: That’s a hard one for me.  I have a negative relationship with most of my stuff.  Possessions generally represent obligation:  to update/replace/repair (electronics, furniture); to clean (clothes, furniture); to use even though I don’t want to (fancy clothes, cellphone).  Most of the time when I get a new object it feels like a burden.  I own a piano, which is nice, but I actually have a complicated relationship with that too, because I often judge myself for how much time I spend playing it when I could be doing other more useful things.  The only possession I can think of that I have an unequivocally positive relationship with is a squash ball I carry with me in my pocket.  I squeeze it in my hand for stress relief, and sometimes I play squash with it.

A Need: Recognition.

I want More: People in my life I feel truly relaxed around.

I want Less: Cell phone coverage.

What would you change about the world? Given pure fiat, what would I change?  Wow – too much to list.  So I’ll just give a list of things on the top of my head.  Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about systematic disadvantages for women in the workplace, so I’d get rid of that to start.  I’d reform the U.S. tax code to reduce corporate taxes and eliminate all deductions.  I’d have every member of ISIS killed.  I’d ban reality television, Twitter and texting.  I’d make teachers the highest paid and respected members of our society. I’d ban politicians from appearing on television and radio.  I’d make parents get licenses from the state before they are allowed to have children.  I’d make immigration policy based entirely on whether the potential immigrant would yield a net economic benefit for the country.  I’d make euthanasia legal.  I’d require that every dollar spent by rich governments on defense be matched by 10 dollars spent on education or direct investment in third world countries. I would increase NASA’s budget.  I’d shift the culture of philanthropy such that investments in viable, profit-generating businesses were seen as better than donations to non-growth-producing projects.

What do you love about yourself? This is a tough one.  I have long struggled against my own tendency to hold a very low opinion of myself.  But if I force myself to take a step back from that tendency, I would say I like my precise, logical way of thinking.

NELLY JORDAN DE FLORES IS A HUMAN, AND AN IMMIGRANT

NELLY JORDAN DE FLORES

Name: Nelly Jordan de Flores

Age: 55

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Occupation: Housekeeper

Where do you come from? Guatemala, Central America

A Fear: Contracting a terrible disease.

A Goal: Having friends forever, and avoiding enemies.

A Memory: I remember fondly a time when we were children, my sisters and I were going with our dad to milk the cows. We had to cross the river on a canoe, and it was very exciting. We really loved drinking milk from the cows.

A Mistake: Never learning to drive a car.

A Hero: Both my father and my mother. They have shown me great examples of struggle and love.

A Fault: Not having a college education.

A Talent: Cooking.

A Prized Possession: My family.

A Need: Having many opportunities.

I want more: Time together with my family, to show them love.

I want less: Violence, injustice, and pain.

What would you change about the world? The fact that money is power.

What do you love about yourself? I am kind, and generous. I have many friends, and I share everything I have.

Aside

I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. -Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

There are many people that I have never gotten to know. I define them by their occupation, their gender, their religion, their race, or their age. It is by this information that I decide whether or not I like them, whether or not they deserve my time, or attention, or money, or respect. I have certain feelings about hunters, and vegans, and panhandlers, and millionaires, until you ask me to talk about one whom I know.

I know a lot of different people. I define them by their passions, their sense of humor, their past mistakes, and their future ambitions. If I know someone, I may not agree with them, but I don’t treat them like a statistic or a characteristic. I treat them like a human being. I love them.

I want to get to know people in a more honest way. I want to go beyond occupation and gender and religion and race and age. I want to understand people. I want to love them better.

Each week, I will introduce someone. It may not be someone you care to know. But I think it’s important that you do… we do.

Let’s get to know each other.

You know, you love.