Humans of Grand Valley

Student project engages community through storytelling

By Stephanie Brzezinski | 11/18/15 10:44pm

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With more than 2,000 likes and 130 interviews posted on Facebook, the Humans of Grand Valley project has grown since its inception in October 2013.

As a way to bring people together, the HOGV team is hosting a social event on Friday night at the Grand Valley State University Frederik Meijer Honors College.

Jaclyn Ermoyan, a junior advertising and public relations major, is a photographer for HOGV. She said she helps Gabriella Patti, a junior studying journalism, conduct the random, on-campus interviews.

“The idea of the page is to build a community across Grand Valley,” Ermoyan said. “A lot of times, students don’t really talk to each other, and we want to bring people together. Everyone has their own backstory.”

Ermoyan said she starts the interview process by asking the person whether they have heard of HOGV and why they came to GVSU. This helps form a relationship with a stranger.

“Then we continue to go deeper and get people to talk about themselves,” she said. “We ask thought-provoking, open-ended questions.”

Though students are the majority, Ermoyan said they are not the only ones interviewed. She has also photographed and talked with faculty, staff, alumni and, most recently, a potential Laker dad who was visiting campus.

“It’s anybody who would be perceived as in the community,” she said. “We’re definitely more inclusive than exclusive. The page prides itself on being candid.”

Lauren Somers, a senior film and video major, is the creative director in charge of promoting HOGV through social media as well as flyers and posters. Somers said she heard Patti’s idea in their media class and knew she had to get involved with the project.

“We are bringing awareness to the idea of connection, interactivity and conversation,” she said. “It’s about meeting each other. It’s more everyone else coming together.”

Somers said more than 60 people attended a similar event last year, when a collage of painted handprints was created. At this week’s event, people can get involved through a photo collage that will later appear on social media.

Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project inspired Patti to create Humans of Grand Valley, which operates under the phrase “capturing the spirit of Grand Valley through individuals.”

The HOGV social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 20. The event is LIB 100 approved.

Students can stop by the Niemeyer Multipurpose Room for free food, games, raffles and prizes from local businesses, including the Laker Store, Family Fare, Peppino’s Pizza and Menna’s Joint.

For more information, visit www.humansofgrandvalley.wix.com/hogv, or find the HOGV page on Facebook and Instagram.

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