Suffolk students group together for class project, create a pleasant online photo exhibition

Sparking the extra note of inspiration and fulfillment is not the automatic first response to the average college student when learning of a semester-long project assigned at the start of a new school season. For four students a mere assignment in a marketing course allowed them to start a new chapter of a creative project that has generated a bit of buzz outside of the classroom – and has extended to the greater part of Boston and all of the many eclectic characters that reside within it.

Members of the CJN- Intro to Advertisement class were asked to divide into groups and generate their very own ideas for a concept to present to the World Wide Web of social media. Founders of Urban Essence include Hannah Naranjo, Hugh O’Connell, Meg Graves and Angela Nelson – four students who came together with a simple concept for a class that is currently delivering joy to the Suffolk community.

“The very nature of our concept alone sets us apart from some of the other projects in the class,” said O’Connell. “The nature of our approach is such a positive one because we support people in the street, interacting with the Suffolk community.”

As the members of Urban Essence sporadically continue to friendly ambush members of the Suffolk community and many pedestrians around the greater Boston area, these four students are continuing to spread unintentional smiles and joy around the city.

Photo by Urban Essence

“We kind of jot down the quote, but we typically have a set list of questions that we like to ask. The hardest part about getting the right answer is always just asking the right question. Sometimes people find the questions cheesy, so we are always prepared with a back-up questions,” added Nelson.

The power of social media allows the members of Urban Essence to track the analytics and visits to each individual post, allowing them to track the incoming Internet traffic to their current Facebook and Twitter pages.

The project has dived into utilizing the power of “tagging” on Facebook, allowing their page to be shared with even more viewers as it’s posted to various profiles. On average, photos that have tagged subjects gain about 600 views – opposed to those without that acquire about 230 views, with about a total of 11,000 views since the project was started on Oct 8.

“We are basically seeing how advertisers promote a brand on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to see how a brand really promotes itself,” said Nelson on the benefit of their class project.

They found their greatest source of inspiration (which they fully accredit on their Facebook page) in the similar, more widely known project of Humans of New York. Urban Essence was looking to add a bit more of the Boston essence focusing on just the greater hub.

“We’ve been asked before if we planned on keeping the project in motion after the semester ends,” said Nelson.

As Graves suddenly yelled “Catch that guy!” O’Connell seems to read her mind as he swiftly disappears to approach a gentlemen walking into the State House to vote.

As these students continue to collect photos and quotations from people throughout the city as the days continue, it is only hoped that the pleasant project will continue beyond the class period of these creatively clever students.

“We enjoy the positive energy because we are sharing and giving inspiration to our community,” added Graves.

The members of Urban Essence shared a few of their favorite posts to date with the Suffolk Journal.

Angela Nelson: My favorite post was of Yuri and Morgan, it was actually a candid shot and its an adorable picture, they were so real with their answers.

Meg Graves: The people we find are so eccentric and excited to be a part of something so I like unique people.

Hugh O’Connell: Angela and I found three really cool characters on School Street not too long ago.There was a group of three woman, a set of sisters and their sister-in-law visiting Boston from Georgia claiming they came to Boston just to visit National Sister Day.

Urban Essence can be followed on Twitter via user @Urban_Essence1 or  follow along via