Lynn Oldshue started Our Southern Souls after writing a story about the bus riders of Mobile, Alabama, for her magazine, The Southern Rambler. She rode the bus for months, listening to the stories of people who depend on public transportation for everything from work and school to shopping and appointments. She was frustrated when she couldn’t fit everyone’s story into the final version and she missed those interviews when the story was finished. Her husband gave her the Humans of New York book filled with interviews on the streets of New York, and said this is what she should do.
Our Southern Souls became five-minute interviews with strangers. She has to do at least one a day, but it is often more than that. She loves listening to people’s stories, but walking up to strangers and interrupting their lives is hard to do. Most people say yes and are kind and open and when it is over, we feel like we were supposed to meet.
The stories are funny and inspiring, sad and heartbreaking, or a quick moment in time. Readers say they find a part of themselves in the stories or share similar thoughts and feelings. These “strangers” and their stories have changed her life and helped her find her own story. They have taught her to pay more attention to life around her because there are interesting people everywhere one goes, you just need open your eyes to see them.