Though many call the Red River Valley home, local photographers are out to tell a different story of making this community their own.
The project, called The World in Fargo-Moorhead, is a collaboration of photographs and stories of residents who have moved to the area from outside the U.S.
Last April, local photographer Meg Luther Lindholm had an idea to tell the story of the wide diversity in the community, modeled after the popular social media project Humans of New York.
Looking to collaborate, Lindholm sent out an email to fellow local photographers. Ann Arbor Miller, Sean Coffman and Tyler Schafer answered the call and met monthly to brainstorm and to bring this project to life.
Along with an online presence, Miller wanted to add another layer to the project by making it more interactive in the community. With funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council, The Arts Partnership and the Fargo Human Relations Commission, and help from the Fargo Public Library and the organizing committee of Welcoming Week, a live exhibit was created.
“I wanted it to be in a public space where people could interact in person,” Miller says. “I want people to think a little more about the neighbors and people they see across the street. They make a lot of presumptions about each other, but don’t take the time to ask someone about something they don’t know.”
The exhibit at the downtown Fargo Library features the stories of 17 different people, from the ages of 16 years old to over 70, those living in the area for only six months to those that have been here for over 20 years.
So far the photographers have interviewed people from 16 countries, including China, Ecuador, Russia, India, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, Nigeria and Iraq. Coffman says that this process not only enriched the project, but also his personal life.
“It’s been amazing to interact with individuals and cultures that I may not have as a result of the project, and I made some great friends, as well,” Coffman says. “It’s given me a different perspective on life.”
The project launched online Sept. 1 and has already reached over 540 likes on its Facebook page. The exhibit was installed Tuesday, and Miller has already seen a positive impact on the community.
“The World in Fargo-Moorhead isn’t about one person or story. It is about the sum of all stories. We see the exhibit at the library as the project’s launch and anticipate there will be other exhibits and events,” Miller says.
The exhibit will be on display until the end of October, with future plans of having pop-up exhibits around the community. A reception and photographer’s talk will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 22 at the library.
The project is actively seeking more photographers to help create images and share stories and community members to share their stories.
“The community can support the project and its intention by engaging with the project on social media and help spread the word,” Miller says. “The exhibit and The World in Fargo-Moorhead project as a whole can provide a vehicle for a larger conversation in our community.”
If you go
What: Opening reception and photographers’ talk of The World in Fargo-Moorhead exhibit
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 22 (exhibit on display through Oct. 28)
Where: Fargo Public Library, 102 3rd St. N., Fargo
Info: Follow the hashtag #worldinfm on Instagram or like the page at www.facebook.com/TheWorldInFM
To participate: Photographers who are interested in participating in this project, as well as those wanting to donate their time and resources, can email email@example.com.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, September 12, 2016, issue of the paper.