Lynn: Writer, Photographer, Storyteller, Activist

Name: Lynn Oldshue

Age: 48

City: Fairhope, Alabama

Main Hustle: Mom of two boys, Hamp and Jake

Side Hustle: Writer/Photographer/Storyteller/Activist

How did you get started?: I started The Southern Rambler six year ago with Michelle Stancil. I wanted to become a writer and she wanted to become a photographer. We were two moms with no experience, but we started our own blog/magazine covering artists and musicians in Alabama. A few years later, I did a story about bus riders in Mobile, riding the bus for months listening to people who take the bus for hours every day to minimum wage jobs, school, medical appointments, and grocery shopping. My husband gave me the book Humans of New York and said that I should tell the stories like that. He was right. I have interviewed over 1,000 people across the South, as well as Morocco, Cuba, and the UK. Community of Mobile Facebook group grew from Our Southern Souls interviews with ordinary people creating their own ways to make Mobile better. There is so much good going on in this city, but we need to connect the dots and make people aware of what is happening here. We also need one place to share and respond to the needs in our area. I started Faces of Mobile, featuring street photography in the downtown area, to show the beauty and diversity of the city, one image at a time.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work from home, but all of the Souls stories and pictures come from wandering. I play a game with downtown Mobile where I give it 30 minutes and it always gives me a story or great face. My favorite place to write and work is on the front porch of a friend’s historic cottage close to downtown.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: I don’t have an off switch. Stories and projects are always going through my head and interesting people are everywhere. I lock in and drop everything else, sometimes leaving my kids in the car on the side of the road. It can get annoying for anyone spending time or traveling with me. The side hustles take most of my time and energy, and I make no money from them.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: I am curious about people, places, and what is around the corner. Writing and photography give me an outlet and a direction for my need to constantly find something new.

Souls is the greatest hobby/side hustle because every day a stranger lets down their wall and shares a part of their life with me. That is an amazing gift, and I find inspiration from a person I will probably never see again.

There is also healing and therapy that comes from sharing stories, even with a stranger. We all want to be seen and know that our stories, our lives, matter. Listening is the easiest way to show someone how important they are. At the end of the interview, they often ask, “How did you know I needed you today?” I needed them just as much. We both leave that conversation a little different than when it began.

Joy. Fulfillment. The peace and gratitude that come from finally being in alignment with who I am and what I am called to do.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My husband. I am not domestic and don’t have many other useful skills. I am obsessed with what I do, and it often takes time and attention away from our family, but he supports me anyway because it makes me happy. John believes what I do is important and tells me I have to keep doing it, even if I never make a penny from it.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I am this way because of my family. My dad was one of the first catfish farmers in Mississippi and went out of his way to help his employees. He talks to everyone and wants to understand who they are. He is now involved with prison ministry. My mom is from a publishing family who believes in the power of words and that travel is the best education. She made my brother and me get out of our comfort zone and see that there is a bigger world outside of Yazoo City.

Have you received recognition for your work?: The Southern Rambler won the 2017 Nappie for Best Blog/Website from Lagniappe, and I won the 2018 Arty for Cultural Innovator from the Mobile Arts Council. My stories and pictures from Havana, Cuba, hung on the walls of the Alabama Contemporary Art Center in their “Sister Shores” exhibit in 2017.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: Souls has already given me so much more than I ever imagined. Of course there is the dream of a book one day, but more importantly, I want it to keep growing as a platform to give a voice to the voiceless and the overlooked. I tell the stories of the homeless, people struggling to pay bills, domestic violence and disaster victims, immigrants, and middle school students. Or the the stories of the unseen heroes like a woman in Houston who gives all of her time, labor, and money to repair houses so flood victims can come back home.

I hope that Our Southern Souls helps break down walls by showing we are all human, no matter what color we are, what we believe, or how we vote or pray. Instead of judging or assuming you are right, see things from another side. You can’t fear someone if you know their story and what is important to them. The dream is that Souls will make us more compassionate to each other. It has done that for me.

I hope Community of Mobile helps pull people together to use their talents and gifts to make Mobile a better place for everyone to live. That is a responsibility of all of us, not just the government, churches, and non-profits.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?: Side hustles often come from the passionate/creative side of what you are called to do, and they can provide joy and fulfillment in ways that nothing else can.

Don’t put pressure or expectations on your side hustle. If it grows into a profitable business, that is great. If it just brings happiness, peace, sanity, and satisfaction, that is worth just as much.

For more information on Our Southern Souls, check out the website or follow along on Instagram. To learn more about The Southern Rambler, click here, and for more about Faces of Mobile, click here. For more information on the Community of Mobile, follow along on Facebook or reach out to Lynn reach out directly via email to connect or collaborate!

Feature Photo by Devin Ford Photography


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