What’s your story?
That’s the question Brandon Doman has been asking people for the Strangers Project, his Brooklyn-based organization that first began as a passion project in 2009.
Inspired by his inherent curiosity for people, Doman has set out to discover a wide range of personal stories through anonymous handwritten submissions (nothing is collected electronically).
He began the experiment outside of a café with the help of a small sign that read “Hi there! I’m collecting your stories. Please stop and share anonymously!” which prompted bystanders to write and doodle however much they pleased.
“I had been fairly quiet earlier in my own life, so inviting strangers to come share intimate details about their life was a bit scary,” Doman exclusively tells PEOPLE. “But people stopped, and it didn’t take long to realize this was something I had to keep doing.”
The Strangers Project joins the ranks of organizations with similar goals (like Post Secret and Humans of New York) and has collected stories from over 15,000 individuals in 35 cities so far. What first started out as an interest has led to a movement that boasts a variety of stories ranging from emotional and inspiring to light-hearted and happy.
Currently, Doman is promoting the Strangers Project’s newest venture: What’s Your Story?, a book that highlights 200 of its most memorable tales. While the book covers a whole range, Doman emphasizes that what makes it so unique is its “physicality and personality.”
“There is something special about seeing them on paper, just as they were written,” says Doman. “It’s a reflection of the people we share our space with every day.”
As for his favorite story to date, Doman says it’s an impossible task, seeing how he has read thousands of these anonymous journal entries since the start of the Strangers Project. But he does admit that often the most hesitant individuals end up sharing the most striking anecdotes.
“There is a raw and honest vulnerability in those stories that I think really resonates with people,” Doman tells PEOPLE. “Seeing that shift to someone realizing they have a story worth sharing is my personal favorite thing.”