San Francisco Therapist, Volunteers Set Up Chairs, Want To Hear Strangers' Stories - NBC Bay Area
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San Francisco Therapist, Volunteers Set Up Chairs, Want To Hear Strangers' Stories

San Francisco Therapist, Volunteers Set Up Chairs, Offer To Listen To Strangers

Sidewalk Talk is Traci Rubles' community listening project. (Published Tuesday, May 17, 2016)

Amid the never-ending bustle that fills a big city like San Francisco, it can be hard for a single voice to be heard.

Not because of too much noise, though. Because of not enough listening.

At least that is what San Francisco therapist Traci Ruble thinks.

"You have to stop talking. I have to stop talking and I have to listen and ask questions," Ruble said.

It was two years ago that Ruble and another licensed therapist decided their listening skills could do good for more than just their patients.

"What I want to give everybody else is a personal sense of belonging," Ruble said. "You know that moment in time when somebody walks down the street and they wonder, does anyone even care that I'm alive? Does anyone even care what I'm thinking?"

Sidewalk Talk is what the idea has become.

Ruble and a team of volunteers set up chairs on the street every month around the city. Any passer-by is then welcome to take a load off their feet and their mind.

All topics are welcome. No judgements are passed.

Ruble believes the more we connect with each other through technology, the less of a need many of us feel to connect person-to-person and that's not healthy.

"If there's anything that I feel deep in my bones, that I am really advocating for, it's that we actually need each other as people," Ruble said.

Even those who don't stop and talk, Ruble thinks, get a little something out of the deal.

Their story must be worth something, after all, if someone is willing to hear it for nothing.

  

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