Abby Deaton - Community Blogger
Abby Deaton
Abby Deaton, a senior communication major at Goshen College, is working with FiveCore Media General Manager Kyle Hufford to research the use of video on community blogs through the college's Maple Scholars program.

Deaton will be creating videos that focus on events and people in the Goshen community. In the summer of 2013, she did a similar project for Goshen Commons. She is one of several former Goshen Common's bloggers that will be contributing to The Elkhart Truth's Community Bloggers section until Goshen Commons returns the fall of 2015.

Humans of Goshen showcases ordinary people with extraordinary stories

Humans of Goshen, a project started by a Goshen College grad, is a project working to tell the city’s stories and remind people of the humanity within everyone in the community.

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

In a town like Goshen, faces may be familiar, but most of the stories are unknown. Sara Klassen, Humans of Goshen organizer, aims to change that.

“That’s definitely one of the goals of Humans of Goshen: To inspire some respect and reverence for the complexity of the people around us,” Klassen said.

Klassen, a recent Goshen College graduate, created Humans of Goshen through her Peace Justice and Conflict Studies (PJCS) internship. She had dreamed of creating a story-collecting project for some time, but it wasn’t until she worked with Phil Thomas, a former United Nations Peace Negotiator, that she felt she could actually make her dream a reality.

Abby Deaton is a senior at Goshen College who is creating a series of videos about people in the Goshen community as part of the Maple Scholars program. Visit her community blog for The Elkhart Truth, Speaking of Goshen..., to see more of her work.

“He suggested doing something in Goshen for my hometown, and he suggested doing a story project,” Klassen said. “It felt like an affirmation of my dreams and my skills and someone saying, ‘Go do it right now! Your community needs it.’”

Klassen began working on the project in the summer of 2013. She worked with the Community Relations Commission to find individuals to interview. Her hope was to interview individuals from various areas of the Goshen community – specifically individuals who were not necessarily spokespeople for their parts of the community.

“Some of the idea is that the ordinary people are just as extraordinary or have just as insightful stories to share,” Klassen said.

The project had its opening showcase at Goshen’s June First Friday in the Spohn Building. An attendee of the showcase said it felt like “holy ground” and that is was a “reverent space.” The display then moved to the Mill Race, where it remained for a week. Klassen said the Mill Race was an ideal place to showcase the project.

“It would have this interactive feel of meeting the stories as you might meet people along the path,” said Klassen.

Klassen worked with various photographers for the project, including local photographer Alex Pletcher. Pletcher felt this project helped him to better his photographic repertoire by focusing on single portraits rather than his preferred subject – candid interactions between individuals.

“I think the challenge is to show the essence of everyone’s personality in each photo,” Pletcher said.

Although Klassen will not be able to continue work on the project after this summer, Pletcher plans to continue taking photos and posting them to the website. Pletcher hopes that more people will volunteer to contribute to the project, believing that the project has a positive impact on the community.

“I think people can gain an understanding of humanity through the project,” said Pletcher. “Everyone has a story, and everyone’s story changes them in an ever-so-personal way.”

Klassen believes what has been done for Humans of Goshen is a good start, but there are many more people and areas in Goshen that need to be represented. Humans of Goshen is just one way in which Klassen hopes the city will start working towards creating spaces in which community stories can be shared.

Klassen is hoping more individuals will volunteer to help take pictures, interview people or maintain the Facebook page and website. She hopes the project will only continue to grow.

“There are so many stories that are just waiting to be part of the project,” Klassen said.

If you would like to volunteer your time or skills to maintaining the Humans of Goshen project, email Sara Klassen at humansofgoshen@gmail.com.

Would you like to become one of The Elkhart Truth’s community bloggers?

Get in touch with our community manager, Ann Elise Taylor, at ataylor@elkharttruth.com.

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