#JJ Story Squad

My name is Josh Johnson from Atlanta, GA. I am the founder of the @jjCommunity on Instagram – a global community of over 600k photographers who believe in the power of visual storytelling to create genuine human connections. Our motto is ‘create to connect’.

With all of the bad news lately, sometimes I feel like there is nothing I can do to make a difference. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and become numb to the human suffering we see every day. After some reflection, however, I realized that in the JJ community we DO make a difference in people’s lives. We do it by sharing stories and connecting to others on a personal level. When one of our own is hurting, the JJ community is there with a helping hand (like helping @ohemg87 recover from her fire or supporting @instaframers family battle with cancer). We use our cameras and our platform to make real, tangible, meaningful differences in real people’s lives.

When I saw the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, I knew I had to help. I decided to form the JJ Story Squad to find families whose lives were torn apart by Harvey, and lend them the JJ helping hand. With our Houston-based JJ photographers leading the charge, we have organized a team of highly skilled photographers and film makers (all volunteers) to create short videos for about 10-20 families in need. We’ll help these families set up their own GoFundMe accounts, and use our JJ community resources to promote their stories.

I am a photographer but also the son of a preacher – I was raised on Bible stories. This project reminded me of the parable of the boy who brought a couple fish. In that story, Jesus multiplies the boy’s small gift of a couple fish, into enough food to take care of a huge crowd. I believe the JJ Story Squad has the same potential to multiply each donation into many more gifts for families in need. I hope you will join us on this journey of telling authentic stories that can make a visible difference in another human’s life. Let’s use the modern miracle of our creative online community to make something wonderful from this discouraging situation. Help us tell and share these stories.

Now, a little on the project logistics. This GoFundMe account was seeded with donations from JJ community members, and a small portion of the funds will be used to cover the project’s administrative costs. All remaining donations will go to seeding and promoting the GoFundMe accounts we create for the families in need. By giving these families access to skilled storytellers and a community of over 600k creative people willing to help promote the JJ mission, we hope to make a real difference in helping these families rebuild their lives. We'll have the videos and individual GoFundMe accounts set up in a few weeks after we identify the families and film the footage. I’ll be in Texas September 7-17.

Texas is our pilot of the JJ Story Squad program. If successful, we will take what we’ve learned from this trip and repeat it in other areas impacted by natural disasters.
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Josh Johnson 
Houston, TX