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The 1000 Journals Project & An Update From Creator Someguy

I know I'm getting to the party really late, but I've just seen a documentary that I'd heartily recommend for every pen enthusiast, sketcher, doodler and journaler who hasn't already seen it.

It's called "1,000 Journals" and it's about a project started in 2000 by a San Francisco artist called "someguy." The idea was very simple: Someguy sent 1,000 journals out into the world at random, and people made contributions to them, then passed the journals on until they were full. Then, completed journals were to be returned to someguy.

From the 1,000 Journals Project:

Those who find the journals add something to them. A story, drawing, photograph, anything really. Then they pass the journal along, to a friend or stranger, and the adventure continues...They’ve come to rest in hostels, cafes and law offices; been the subject of treasure hunts, brought to remote mountaintops, abandoned at airports and stolen at gunpoint.

The results were extraordinary creations by ordinary people from all over the globe – at least 40 different countries at last count – consisting of drawings, essays, collages, fragments of thoughts. Entries have touched on every possible topic, from the deeply personal to the universal, first love to Sept. 11.

Here's a video from artist Jane Davenport sharing her addition to Journal No. 1000.

Scanned pages from the journals have been uploaded to the project site and compiled into a book.

And only a fraction of the journals have been returned so far. (Heartbreakingly, two disappeared in Australia after an avid journaler there was killed in a motorcycle crash.)

"There are still over 900 of them out there, floating around, but I guess many are sitting on bookshelves, or forgotten in a garage, just waiting to be rediscovered," someguy reports on his site.

I was curious about where the project stands now, 14 years after it began, so I emailed someguy (real name Brian Singer). He was kind enough to respond.

1000 journals project journal 987According to someguy, about 35 journals have made their way back to him. The most recent was just a few months ago, although the journal was only half-filled. While 35 may not seem like a lot, someguy wrote, you have to remember that the project was launched before things like social media existed to make community projects go global in days.

"Mostly, it’s a waiting game," he wrote. "The longer the journals are out there, the more interesting they are when they’re returned."

The completed journals have been displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles,  the Muzeum w Gliwicach in Poland, and through Scottsdale (Arizona) Public Art.

The journals also have been worked into a mural at the new UCSF Children’s Hospital scheduled to open in San Francisco in February 2015.

The documentary of 1,000 Journals was completed in 2007 and explains how the journals traveled around the world, and introduces some of the people who helped to fill them.

Director Andrea Kreuzhage also keeps a 1,000 Journals Facebook page where she follows other journal projects and occasionally posts updates about journals from the original project.

1000 journals project journal 712As someguy says, getting hold of a journal is near impossible now, with so few sent out into such a large world. After the initial project, he moved on to something he called 1,001 Journals, which encourages individuals and groups to start their own journal projects locally. The site offers advice on how to start and fund a journal project.

For now, that's about all that's happening with 1,000 journals, someguy wrote, but "for the most part, when people hear of the project they’re inspired to get creative again, which I love to encourage."

So, a question for you readers: If someone were to start up a journal project for pen peeps, would you participate?

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