19 Love Stories

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Jennifer and Brayton

Photographer Angie Smith reminds us though apart, we are together

Author: McCale Ashenbrener

This pandemic has unlocked a strange confluence of emotions as each “household,” cozied in their respective quarantine, bears witness to unimaginable suffering on the nightly news. There is dissonance between our personal circumstance and the tragedy that is unfolding across the nation, a disconnect between the beauty of an Idaho Spring bursting forth through iris and syringa and a mounting death toll with no clear light at the end of the tunnel. Angie Smith, a photographer and storyteller who has worked with New York Times Magazine, Time, WIRED, and The Atlantic, waited for almost two weeks in her Boise bench apartment for results from her Covid-19 test on March 14th. During that time, she saw social media posts of people doing beautiful things to help one another as the pandemic worsened. She created 19 Love Stories to document the people behind the benevolent acts and tell the real, human stories about how people are thinking, feeling and processing this unprecedented time.

“Part of my motivation was to make kindness more contagious,” recalls Smith. “And inspire people to do little things to help each other.” Through 19 Love Stories we meet Carol and Kelli, who have made approximately 7,000 masks as of May 18 and have sent 1,00 to Navajo Nation and hundreds more to the Idaho Migrant Council, Jesse Tree, nursing homes, schools and businesses. “I’ve taken this time very personally. [Making masks] is an opportunity for me to save one of my kids or one of my students.”

Smith introduces us to Jennifer and her son Brayton who are living day to day in a hotel, displaced by the coronavirus. “[Brayton’s] little five-year life has been tough but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him. I tell him: the harder it is, the bigger the adventure, the bigger the outcome, the brighter the light is at the end of the tunnel.”

City Bear HuntThere is also Jeff and Rachel who started city bear hunt of Boise as a way to create outdoor experiences for kids that observe safe social distancing practices while also raising money to support our communities. “People are doing things that they feel are right in their heart. The moment is there and the timing is right.”

Also Kris and Remi, of the former State and Lemp restaurant, who were poised to open the doors in their next venture, Kin. They became founding partners in City of Good, a joint initiative that is currently making and delivering meals free-of-charge to those in need.

Smith has been able to directly help people by featuring them in 19 Love Stories, highlighting their cause or struggle and sharing how people can donate and support them. Ultimately, she wants “to create a physical exhibition for the City of Boise once we are able to be outside again.” Like her powerful personal projects Stronger Shines the Light Inside and Open Air Archive, her stories help us gain insight and empathy into the unique circumstance and perspective of our neighbors as we all navigate this new normal, a strong reminder that even though we are apart, we are all in this together.

Like many, Smith has lost her sources of income as all photo shoots have been cancelled. She relies on community support to fund this project.  To learn more and consider donating visit: https://www.patreon.com/19lovestories, and check out 19 Love Stories on Instagram @19lovestories and Facebook.

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