Picture this. It is early morning in front of the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. A lone man sets up two foldaway chairs in front of the beautiful archway and erects a sign next to them that reads “Free Conversations!”.
Adria Ballester, a 26 year old writer and storyteller, explains that the idea is to be able to sit and chat freely with him on any subject you like. He also speaks Spanish, English and Catalan.
One visitor during the day, an Italian psychology student, said that “we have lost the art of conversation”. Ballester said that the reasoning behind his project is that we live in a world where we would rather pick up our phones and message someone from another country rather than say good morning to our next door neighbours.
He promotes himself on Facebook (Free Conversations Movement) and Twitter (@freeconversations) and post photos of himself chatting with members of the public who, he said, can sometimes make startling revelations.
He said that he really enjoys the feeling of letting people talk to him although sometimes he said you do feel like a therapist. When asked about people’s stories in general he stated that there are great stories and some really tough ones too.
Some people want to talk about heartbreak or tragedy in their lives. There is a little bit of everything normally he said. A story that particularly sticks out in his mind was from a 70 year old Lithuanian woman who discussed with him her years spent in a Russian concentration camp. Ballester finished off by saying that he wants to publish a manifesto and take the idea to other major cities across the globe.
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