View From My Window celebrates a year of sharing insights around the world (2023)

About a month into the pandemic, when I was already nervous and anxious to travel again, a friend invited me to participate in afacebook groupwhere people from all over the world, all confined to their homes, shared the view from their windows.

Being able to gain a fresh perspective was groundbreaking. It was a privilege to literally see the world through other people's windows.

Seeing everyone's photos and reading their stories was so interesting, so personal, and so heartwarming that I couldn't wait for each new post.view from my windowcreated a community where people thousands and thousands of miles apart can connect and find comfort in the fact that they are all sharing the same experience together, even when they are alone.

The View From My Window aired a year ago and today, founder Barbara Duriau continues the magic with the release ofa new website. it is publisheda bookto commemorate the project; It's an incredible documentary of this time in history and a must-read for all of us who live through it.

I became so obsessed with this group — there are so many places I want to visit right now — that I reached out to Duriau to thank her and get the backstory on the group that helped me stay sane during the pandemic.


Get 5% back on your top spending tier with the new Citi Custom Cash CardByRobin Saks FrankelForbes Advisor Staff
Why Your IRS Refund Is Late This YearVonEllen ChangContributor

First, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm Belgian, I'm 48 years old and I'm a graphic designer by profession. In 1998 I backpacked around the world for a year. No Facebook, no Insta, no filter. I have the travel bug.

In 2018 I decided to leave Brussels, leave my job after 17 years at Tintin for a new life. I gave it all up to move to Amsterdam for the love of the city I live in now. I was thirsty for new discoveries, for new experiences in another country.

Why did you choose to start the View from my window?

On Sunday 22nd March 2020 I was on the phone with friends and we were talking about Covid. I realized that for many weeks, maybe months, we would be stuck at home with a single lonely glance out the window. As a curious and world traveler, I thought to myself, "What's the view like on the other side of the world?" What if I asked Internet users to take pictures of their opinions and share them with others isolated in a Facebook group?” I thought this would allow them to "travel" through other people's windows. We were all in the same boat and this was a way to connect people around the world. The next day, View from my window was born!

What were you doing when the pandemic broke out? How has this affected your own life?

I was living in my tiny apartment when the lockdown happened. I had just started as a freelance graphic designer 15 days ago. Everything still needed to be professionally built and a major project had been canceled due to the coronavirus. So I had a lot of time to think - and reconsider - my uncertain future, what I really wanted to do, create, dream. I wanted a concept to make something happen. Then March 23rd turned my life upside down. It combined all my passions: visual imagery, travel and connections.

What was the first preview posted?

My! From my tiny, tiny apartment. It wasn't a breathtaking view, but at least the sun was shining.

What were people's reactions to the group?

So positive! The success was impressive and global. They quickly earned the nickname "The Feel-Good Group". It came at a time when people had had enough of the scary bad news. Then it came like a breath of fresh air. The international media jumped in and were happy to tell a happy story that snowballed into a dark time. I was flooded with interviews!

How fast did the group grow?

The number doubled every week. The day after its creation, 2,675 people joined the group. One week later 50,000! One million by April 15th. As of April 26, VFMW has over two million members.

On April 29th we decided to stop accepting new members in order to stay closer to the group's concept. It was such a difficult decision. But we already had 20 admins and 300,000 photos waiting to be edited. 300,000! If we hadn't given up, the group would probably have 10 million members by now! It would have been unmanageable.

How many countries are represented in the group?


Which specific posts were the most popular? Do certain scenes - like beaches and sunsets - resonate more than others?

Definitive! One of them is the sunset over the Cairo pyramids. The image had 170,000 likes! He tells his life story, the challenges he went through and talks about the dream of seeing the world, which he has now fulfilled. Sunsets, stories, iconic sights like Rome or the Eiffel Tower were the most popular. Also animals.

Did you approve all contributions or did you have to reject some?

Yes, there were strict rules that needed to be followed to avoid inappropriate content that went against community guidelines, such as: Photos of people with their feet up or drinking late at night. The goal really was to capture the moment in all its simplicity and just focus on the view. But people don't like to play by the rules, you know. (laughs) So I can say that only one out of three photos was approved. But we never rejected a contribution because the vision was too modest - quite the opposite! It wasn't a photo contest for the best view, although there were many.

Are there stories that people have told or moments that you particularly stand out?

There are those that make me cringe and bring tears to my eyes, and others that make me smile again when work gets too boring. The book is made up of all the pandemic-related stories that touched me. Simple, moving and powerful stories about life under Covid.

Here are some:

Nou from NY: “I am a registered nurse in NYC caring for Corona positive postpartum patients. I am isolated from the rest of my family: my 93-year-old mother. 90 year old father. 14-year-old daughter and immunocompromised brother with cancer. A plastic wall separates my bed and bathroom from the rest of the house. My family sets out plates of food for me to pick up on the back porch. This is my view from the back porch. I wave to my family through the back porch door and window. Everyone helps each other... Team spirit... In this union..."

Arianna from Florence, Italy: “Before, we barely liked our balcony: it was home to our cactus and not much else. Since we've been in quarantine (for over a month now), this little patio has become: a toy pool, a solarium, a restaurant, a stage for neighborhood concerts, a library, a cafeteria, a bubble launch pad . Even though we don't have a yard or outdoor space, we feel blessed. Stay healthy and enjoy what you have!”

Pearl of Montana: "After seeing these spectacular views of tropical and warm locations at this location, I wondered how to capture my view of the last 20 years of pine trees, overgrown vegetation and a tired dirt road. I walked around several windows and just I sighed at how simple and boring it all seemed. So I opened the front door and was captivated by the beauty of what I saw. It had just rained in the evening and rays of sunlight were breaking through the clouds and lighting up the trees. My eyes focused on the rocking chair from my husband's grandfather and it was like seeing him for the first time. The chair was given to us years ago and as I didn't have room for it, I left it on the porch. The chair that now sits next to the old milk cans with dollar store flowers seem to send a message from other times. A message from quieter times, when lounging on porches was the norm, not a luxury. Personally, I've never sat in the chair, but just for the activity of taking this photo, I know that i That's about to change. In this Covid season, forced slowdown, reduced activity, global communion is showing up in our lives like a gift. Until now, life has been too busy for my family to play. But today that's changing, I'm going to sit in grandpa's chair for a while and take a deep breath. Life is precious. Take time to smell the flowers. Be sure."

Judy bought the book and wrote, "So incredibly excited. This will be a gift for great granddaughter born 2/18/20 so she can experience the world at birth. I have placed the book in a "time capsule" under a Live Oak which we planted this year in honor of the great granddaughter, with instructions to open it on her 18th birthday."

My Belgian-American friend Sonja, also an administrator, wrote in our WhatsApp group: "I swear I got goosebumps and my heart started beating faster... so I just approved a photo... of the small town where I was born 47 years ago, right in the heart of America... Pittsfield, Massachusetts... I'm very impressed... knowing that a guy from afar posted his little picture and the fact that I stumbled across it purely by accident and had to pass it off.

What surprised you most about the group?

How much people love their country and are proud of it. How much they really love being a part of this crazy community. I never thought I would create so many connections. People greeted each other, talked privately, helped each other. It was magical.

How many photos have you received so far?

Very roughly we receive between 500,000 and 700,000, but we "only" approve and reserve around 250,000.

When/why did you decide to do a book?

From the beginning, when I started receiving photos from all over the world, it was clear to me!view from my windowwas created to connect internet users from all corners of the world during the lockdown and the book was created to accompany what we've been living for months that we've been going through the pandemic together. It is our family album and a unique testimony to pass on to future generations.

How did you decide which photos to include in the book?

I saved the most striking photos from the beginning of the group in March. Very quickly, the photos were organized into drawers almost by themselves. Afterwards, it was a matter of selecting the most relevant ones, whether because of the story behind the image, the power, the aesthetic aspect or a detail that called attention. It was a very difficult process. In the end, 260 were selected and divided into 12 chapters such as "Empty Streets", "All you need is love", "Backstage", "Tomorrow is a New Day".

How many countries are represented in the book?


Do you have any personal favorites or photos that really made you want to visit this place in person?

Many! But first, of course, the book cover! Kyrgyzstan (page 229 of the book). Big landscapes like the US or Australia in the middle of nowhere always attract me more than beaches.

Did you make friends through the group you'll be visiting once we're all vaccinated? Have other people talked about doing this?

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for more personal discussions with the members. I would love to meet the members, go to their homes around the world! One day I received a letter from Australia from a member whose picture is in the book just to thank me for what I had created. This beautiful letter came with a beautiful bookmark with a poem. I was blown away by it. That this person, so far away, took the trouble to write this letter, written on light airplane paper as was done in the old days - and post it. I could play this role, it wasn't virtual. And that was really good! I would like to meet this person. I recently read this from Amy H. about her mom who just got the book: "Barbara, my mom loves it! I asked her where she wanted to travel. Her response was, 'I should meet Barbara, who created this amazing experience. .'" I'd love to meet that mother anywhere! Many members want to meet. I've read it many times. I have to take it into account and arrange it now! Simply! (laughs)

What was the most important part of the group for you?

The connections! We were able to talk to people thousands of miles away that we would never have met. We could connect, dream, escape. The group had a significant impact on everyone's daily lives. We share our lives and our hopes, difficulties and help each other. We feel less lonely. It wasn't just their views but also their emotions and their stories that people wanted to share during lockdown. Some say the group saved them from depression during these trying times. Connections between people are the basis of our lives. We were not made to live alone without sharing. We like to belong. As this is a global group, it's fun to discover different reactions associated with people's culture. I learned a lot.

Is the group still getting so many submissions or has it decreased over time?

People still want to post their opinions. We're approving pending posts as I speak. Only 360° photos remain.

Do you intend to keep the group after the pandemic is over?

The group changed my life. It was an extraordinary adventure. When I created View from my window, I knew it was an ephemeral group because the concept was linked to covid19. But it turned out to have exceeded my expectations. I feel like his shepherd and flock. I feel close to the members; You are part of my life! My goal now is to keep the community alive and together. today the officialView from my windows sitewill be launched to receive them. A new platform, the same spirit. A chat room will be created there, for members only. You can register as a host or as a guest. I have so many projects in mind – for example trips to other people's homes, exhibitions and also a documentary.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to readers?

That we never know what tomorrow will be like and that life can be surprising. Traveling is essential. "View from my window" had more than 270 million interactions. And it makes me dizzy and smile! Thank you to all members who participate. As Nicole M. of Buffalo, NY said:"When one door closes, many, many windows open."

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Last Updated: 03/04/2023

Views: 6226

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Birthday: 1997-10-17

Address: Suite 835 34136 Adrian Mountains, Floydton, UT 81036

Phone: +3571527672278

Job: Manufacturing Agent

Hobby: Skimboarding, Photography, Roller skating, Knife making, Paintball, Embroidery, Gunsmithing

Introduction: My name is Lakeisha Bayer VM, I am a brainy, kind, enchanting, healthy, lovely, clean, witty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.