A Stranger Like Me
What it fights for:
What sets it apart:
A Stranger Like Me is a blog about "The strangers in our home and the stories that go with them." A Stranger Like Me fights for trust by building on the assumption that strangers are good, not scary. And so we've opened our home to them through Airbnb. And when we're given permission by our guests, we even get to share the beauty of so many of these strangers through our blog, A Stranger Like Me.
Here is the beautiful thing that has been happening through it... We've been peeling back the layers and rediscovering the beauty behind strangers and their stories.
The blog builds on a guestbook where all of our guests (usually from Airbnb) who stay in our home, this collection of "strangers" all share a glimpse of their story and what makes their heart beat. Sometimes they leave one sentence and other times they leave 3 pages. It's through our guestbooks and the strangers who have become friends that we've been reminded that people are worth trusting and celebrating.
We're using a Stranger Like Me as a simple creative project that looks to celebrate the humanness of strangers and pushing back, just a little bit, against the warnings of stranger danger.
How it started:
Believe it or not, A Stranger Like Me actually started as a joke.
Here's Mitch telling how it began:
My wife, Steph, was in Greece for 10 days over the Christmas of 2016 serving in the refugee camps... And knowing that I would be bored out of my mind while she was gone, I decided to put a room in our house on Airbnb. And it was my first few experiences, combined with the initial conversations with people that spurred the idea onward.
Being a 25 year old, I was obviously going to document it via social media. What else would you expect? And as people learned what I was going to do, here were the comments I got over and over:
"What if they steal from you?"
"Won't that be awkward?"
and my favorite...
"They could be serial killers!"... and so it goes.
Many of us millennials grew up in a generation surrounded by the warnings of "Stranger Danger"... Largely because we had parents that loved us. How lucky are we?
But fast forward to 2017, and combine the lessons of stranger danger with the fear-mongering of the media today... And here we are. In a world where we've decided that strangers can't be trusted. A world where the stranger is the other.
Which in my opinion (because that's what the internet needs more of), is actually really sad.
The very first Airbnb guest I had was an incredible man named Abdul from Tajikistan. A man who if I listened to the media... couldn't be trusted. And I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous.
But here's what I learned within the first 2 nights with Ahmed. He was just like me. I mean sure... My full-time job is pastoring at a Christian church, and he's a devout practicing Muslim. But all it took was 45 minutes over a few (ok, so it was like 6) slices of Afghani pizza in Northeast Minneapolis one night for the two of us to become friends. It was through sharing my home with him that I learned he wasn't the person I was told to fear he would be, but instead was a hard-working man working on his civil engineering degree to go back home to his country where his wife and family lived in order to help his people grow and move forward as a nation.
And so here we are, over 100 guests later. And all we're trying to do with it, is broadcast these little snapshots of the strangers' lives who come through our home with the internet. Hoping that the rest of the world will see, just like I did, that there is always a stranger out there. A stranger like me.