The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
We are talkers. It is hard to sit and listen to people when we want to be the talker. Remember when we were back in school? The teacher would ask a question and we'd raise our hand, wave our hand, hold our hand up with our other hand. Say, "Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me!" and hope against hope we get to talk.
In Portland and other cities around the country, a group of people have been improving on the art of listening. They set up some chairs on a corner and invite people to come sit and talk to them. And they listen. They don't give advice, engage in chat, talk. They simply listen.
The organization is called Sidewalk Talk. Their mission is simple: That in every major city in the US, once a week there would be listeners listening somewhere in that city. That is the long term dream. And the even longer term dream is that by listening to stories we heal that which divides our communities.
In Portland on May 9, listening volunteers set up chairs in Lownsdale Square. This park is located between the courthouse and the jail, making it a great spot for people to stop and talk. With the weather cooperating, volunteers stood besides their chairs and asked pedestrians if they would like to talk.
In reading about this organization, there are volunteers who have regular spots in their city and people come to rely on the volunteers to be there to listen. From their website:
For example, Traci Ruble, who is one of the co- creators of Sidewalk Talk is listening the second Wednesday of every month at Church & Market in San Fran from 11:30 - 1:30. When you start informing the public you will be there at a set time, folks will come back.And so the listening has begun in Portland. About time, eh?