What makes you happy? Every day for 100 days, I asked one person this question and documented their answer with a portrait photograph. To take my #100xPEOPLExHAPPINESS project a step further, I now have the opportunity to create an interactive exhibition at the Alte Feuerwache Gallery in Berlin-Friedrichshain and organise creative workshops for young people.
Every day we cross paths with so many people, often in a rush. It's rare that we slow down and stop to meet someone new, be curious and let ourselves be surprised. My 100 day photography project #100xPEOPLExHAPPINESS was an attempt to challenge that.
Over 100 days from April to mid-July 2017, wherever I was, whether in Berlin or travelling around Africa, I asked one person each day the same question: "What makes you happy?". I documented their answer and took their portrait.
With the support of the Alte Feuerwache Gallery in Berlin I now have the opportunity to produce an interactive exhibition inside the art space of the old fire station in Friedrichshain.
Along with the photographs and stories of happiness, there will be a series of talks and creative community workshops, especially for young people.
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
The project goal is to produce an interactive exhibition of the photographs and stories of #100xPEOPLExHAPPINESS and organise workshops for young people.
What makes you happy? is such a simple question - and yet such an important one. It's a question that can ignite conversations between people who have never met before and reveal incredible personal stories.
The #100xPEOPLExHAPPINESS photography project is a body of work that has already inspired others to take up their very own 100 Day Project and to be creative every single day.
The project is being developed for visitors to the exhibition at the Alte Feuerwache Gallery, the local community of Friedrichshain in Berlin and for a digital community of creative contributors.
If you would like to contribute to the creation of the interactive installation at the exhibit, email your answer to What makes you happy? and also include an image, a collage, a sketch or whatever you feel like. The email address is [email protected].
Why would you support this project?
What makes you happy? is such an important question in life. It's a question that's worth pausing for a while to reflect upon, to share and to be inspired by others.
This is why I need your support!
The portrait photographs and stories of the 100 people I met were first documented and published in a digital space: Instagram. Through this exhibition there is now the opportunity to go beyond the Likes of social media, to create a space with photography and stories that can trigger experiences, to educate and inspire young people to make stories and to bring together people who shared their stories of happiness during the #100xPEOPLExHAPPINESS project.
So think about it: What makes you happy? - What do you do to be happy? I would love to hear from you and include your thoughts on happiness in the interactive installation at the exhibit! Email your answer to [email protected].
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
The funding will be used for exhibition materials such as printing the portrait photographs and the accompanying stories of happiness.
It will also contribute to the production of an interactive installation at the exhibit.
Further funding will enable the printing of selected larger photographs and support creative community workshops for young people to learn about digital storytelling and produce their own stories of happiness.
Who are the people behind the project?
The Alte Feuerwache in Berlin-Friedrichshain is an old fire station built in 1884 that has been transformed into a municipal art gallery. Since 2003, the 150 m² art space has been featuring local artists and supporting socio-cultural projects.
Barbara Gruber is a multimedia journalist currently working in the Africa team of DW Akademie - the journalism training and media development division of Deutsche Welle, Germany's International Broadcaster. Barbara is passionate about storytelling, photography and meeting people.
100/100 #100xpeoplexhappiness I've been thinking of reaching day 100 for a while. And I thought I'd share what inspired me and what makes me happy, as I've had plenty of time to think about it over the past three months.
Three things inspired me to do the 100 Day Project.
One: Elle Luna. Two years ago I attended a “fireside” talk in Berlin with the American designer who had worked for several startups in Silicon Valley (including Mailbox, Uber and the storytelling platform Medium). Elle had recently decided to dive full-time into her passion - painting. The talk was the first instalment of Rolemodels - a series of talks hosted by Isa Sonnenfeld and David Noel at the SoundCloud headquarters just around the corner from my office. Elle had just published her book “At the Crossroads of Should and Must". I ordered the book, read it and loved it. It got me thinking about my MUST, my love for creating, crafting and working with sounds, images and words.
Two: Ein guter Plan. In fall 2015 I supported the crowdfunding campaign for Ein Guter Plan, a beautiful and cleverly crafted planner. I loved the section that made me reflect on what makes me happy, the values that are most important to me and my bucket list. I wrote a lot of things down, but I was really thinking of a time horizon of maybe 20-30 years. It’s funny because both this reflection and Luna’s book subconsciously triggered things that I thought were still far away but ended up happening much faster than I ever imagined.
This winter I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Byron Bay, Australia with plenty of time to think, plot and plan. I knew I wanted to do the 100 Day Project which Elle Luna had launched four years ago. I had missed the start date last year. This time I wouldn’t - April 3rd was marked in my calendar! I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could create for 100 days, see what would happen. I knew I wanted to take photographs - portrait photographs of strangers because that's particularly challenging. You have to reach out, engage and quickly build connections. And then I wanted to add a simple additional layer by asking a question. I pondered about the question for about a week, but then followed my original idea: What makes you happy? Sky on Byron’s Main Beach was the first person I reached out to and asked. She was great, I knew I was on to something and embarked on this wonderful journey.
Three: the people I met and the support I got from family, friends, colleagues and strangers. As I got going I met incredible people, every day. I learned a lot about taking photographs with my iPhone and doing quick edits on the run. Every day I got better at talking to strangers and pitching my project, and hardly ever got rejected. I was also surprised by how easy it is to integrate a project like this into my daily life and how much joy it is to create every day.
I started off with Henning , Lukas , Marvin und Jan, who live in a boarding house for hearing impaired youngsters across our street. For the past five years we've lived next to each other but I had never spoken to any of them. Now I know their names and we greet each other. And it’s the same with Apo, Safre, Bismarck and Werner all of whom work or live close to my office. Every day we cross paths with so many people, it’s so rewarding to stop for five minutes and to meet someone new. It puts a smile on your face for the rest of your day!
So what makes me happy? There are many little things that make me happy: a big smile and a snuggle from my little boy who tells me that he loves me so much. A picnic and a round of boules in the park with my two favourite people on a beautiful summer night at the end of a working week. An early morning walk on the beach. Laughing. Holding hands. Discovering inspiring new places with people I love. Having a day off work and time to read the newspaper back to back over a good cup of coffee. Plotting and planning personal projects. Seeing results in whatever I do. Or dancing to extremely loud music in our apartment.
But what this project has shown me is that I'm maybe most happy when I’m doing, when I'm making, when I’m creating - that can be crafting something with my son using our imagination and whatever falls into our hands, creating a collage, or tinkering with images, words and sound. Time flies when I’m creating - and I never tire. That’s maybe what makes me most happy!