6 Billion Others

Somewhere between 30-40% of people living in London were born outside the UK. That’s a pretty significant amount, and, as most people will probably agree, the diversity of this city is one of its greatest assets.

In the spirit of that, even though it’s not about London specifically, I wanted to share this project called 6 Billion Others. It’s an incredible endeavour undertaken by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and a team who travelled around the world interviewing people from all walks of life to find their answers to some fundamental questions. Over four years, in 75 countries, they filmed 5,000 interviews that capture intimacy and authenticity. Each person was asked 40 questions.

Living in a city where people come from so many different backgrounds – any of these people could live in London – I am always drawn to these explorations of culture, values, ideas.

I’ve been reading the book version of 6 Billion Others, split up by question with photographs and a select few answers.

On one page, an elderly Nepalese woman named Putali with a dark wrinkled forehead and a hoop through her nose answers the question, “What were your childhood dreams?” She replies, “I would have loved to go abroad. Living here, we just live to eat. And time passes by. I had this dream, but nobody came to take me away. That’s it.” Answers like that, they make you think about your own life.

Yona, a woman with dark curls and a beaming smile, lives in Canada. Her answer to “What does love mean to you?” was one of my favourites. She said, “Each one of us is like our own planet, our own country, with our own rules and history, and I think that what allows us to fall in love is when we meet someone who wants to explore our planet, and wants to learn how, in spite of its complexity, to climb to the top of its mountains and go to the bottom of the darkest caverns, and who will be able to appreciate the beauty of all the nooks and crannies that exist inside of each of us.”

My thoughts keep coming back to this city, that anyone of these faces could be one of the anonymous ones I passed in the street today.

There’s a teaser video of some of the responses:

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