Dollar Street is a project started by Anna Rosling Rönnlund. For many years Rosling Rönnlund’s job was mainly to make global trends, developments and data more understandable to the public with the help of colorful charts, diagrams and graphs. Eventually, however, this job frustrated her because all she could read from the numbers and curves was something that just wasn’t enough to be communicated via such numbers and curves. She wanted to show the social realities and real income differences of people all around the world in a way that should be understandable and easy to picture. With her “Dollar Street” project she gives us an insight into the lives of people with the most different levels of income. For instance, there’s the Chowdhury family living in India, who only has a monthly income of 29 US dollars and has to make ends meet with this amount for a family of six. The images give us an impression of the daily lives of the people while their stories clearly show how different life can be for everybody, depending on where you’re at home. Besides the very intimate photos you can also read short biographies but also the plans, dreams and wishes of the people portrayed. The Chowdhury family, for example, dreams of buying a water pump with which they can pump their own water.
We’re all aware of the unequal distribution of wealth on our planet. The images and the information you get on “Dollar Street” make this sort of inequality far more visible than any diagram. At the same time the project also highlights that people with the lowest income don’t only have an exclusively sad life. Most families in this project, no matter if rich or poor, proudly present their possessions, they’ve got hobbies, they’ve got dreams and they’ve got goals. In some kind of way this unites them all and makes the border line that can be drawn between them a bit more permeable.
What do you think of the project?
Here’s a very interesting TedxTalk by Anna Rosling Rönnlund.