IN PICS | 'View from My Window' Facebook page becomes a global phenomenon

The response to Barbara Duriau's simple idea to have people share their lockdown views on social media has been overwhelming — and she's has just raised R2.6m to give all those snaps a second life

21 June 2020 - 00:03 By Elizabeth Sleith
Moorea, French Polynesia, by Stephanie Scouflaire.
Moorea, French Polynesia, by Stephanie Scouflaire.
Image: Stephanie Scouflaire

On March 23 much of the world was retreating into lockdown when Barbara Duriau, a 47-year-old, Belgium-born graphic designer, decided to start a Facebook page.

As an avid traveller, Duriau was struck by the fact that as people went into lockdown, whatever they could see from their homes would become their whole world for many weeks, if not months, to come. She was curious about what those worlds would look like.

Her View from My Window page therefore aimed to "connect people from all around the world during these tough times" by having them share these worlds: photographs of the little gardens, grubby walls or neighbouring apartments, the tiny streets or rooftops or seascapes or parking lots that they were looking at every day.

The first post was, of course, her own lockdown view of the flats she could see from her 27m² apartment in Amsterdam.

Barbara Duria's view from her flat in Amsterdam.
Barbara Duria's view from her flat in Amsterdam.
Image: Barbara Duria

Duriau says she was unprepared for how quickly the page took off. "Soon the number of members doubled every day — 1,000, 100,000, one million to two million. It was fantastic!"

She brought in a team of friends and volunteers to help her sift through the avalanche of entries. The overwhelming response in the comments has been one of gratitude and appreciation. People say the page has allowed them to travel and stoked in them a sense of the beauty of the world, and a realisation that none of us is alone.

By June 10, just over two months since it began, Duriau's team were still working on submissions from April, with 185,206 posts pending. The group was capped at 2.3-million members and, as of April 29, has accepted no new members or posts.

Hong Kong by Michelle Fu.
Hong Kong by Michelle Fu.
Image: Michelle Fu
Murano island, near Venice, Italy, by Sara De Polo.
Murano island, near Venice, Italy, by Sara De Polo.
Image: Sara De Polo

Duriau says the closure was in keeping with the spirit of the page — it was only meant to help connect people in lockdown and as those are ending so too must the posts. Now her plan is to give View from my Window "a second life" as a travelling exhibition and an online archive.

Campione d’Italia, an Italian enclave in Ticino, Switzerland, by Gherardo Citterio.
Campione d’Italia, an Italian enclave in Ticino, Switzerland, by Gherardo Citterio.
Image: Gherardo Citterio

She launched a crowdfunding appeal in mid-May with the goal of raising €70,000 to fund the project. It ended last Saturday with €138,580 (about R2.6 million) raised from 3,199 backers. So, as Durian says: "Watch this space."

More snaps from the 'View from My Window' Facebook page:

Zihuatanejo, Mexico, by Suzy Danner.
Zihuatanejo, Mexico, by Suzy Danner.
Image: Suzy Danner

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, by Dianne Purkis.
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, by Dianne Purkis.
Image: Dianne Purkis
Yonkers, New York, US, by Julie Thaler.
Yonkers, New York, US, by Julie Thaler.
Image: Julie Thaler
Maasai Mara, 10km from Talek, Kenya, by Niels Mogensen.
Maasai Mara, 10km from Talek, Kenya, by Niels Mogensen.
Image: Niels Mogensen
Paris, France, by Shannon Marchat.
Paris, France, by Shannon Marchat.
Image: Shannon Marchat
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, by Leigh Seidel.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, by Leigh Seidel.
Image: Leigh Seidel