San Francisco group comes to Indianapolis to encourage human interaction

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- If you ventured down to the intersection of Illinois and Washington streets in downtown Indianapolis Tuesday afternoon, you might have noticed a flock of people dressed in pink. The group of twelve or so pink no doubt stuck out like sore thumbs, but not because of what they were wearing.

For hours, each member was stopping people and asking for one simple thing: a conversation.

“And the intention is really to bring human connection back in style,” Traci Ruble said.

Ruble is the leader of the group, and co-founder of the organization Sidewalk Talk. The organization’s goal is to promote “people being heard” and encouraging human interaction.

Sidewalk Talk is based in San Francisco, but Traci and a group of volunteers often travel the country, setting up “talk sessions” and teaching people the techniques of being a good listener.

Their concept is simple, they go to a city’s downtown area and encourage people to talk with them during the evening rush hours. There’s no limit on how long they talk, or any restrictions on what they say. Ruble says the listeners do their best to never judge whoever is talking, rather work towards understanding them and finding common ground.

“I think human connection makes everything better. I think it makes our politics better, I think it makes our physical health better, our marriages better, and our children better. It makes our lives better, consistently,” Ruble said.

The group knows not everyone will be open to the experience, and not everyone will want to talk. But she says if just one person walks away feeling better, or empowered, then their mission has been accomplished.

“I want us all to feel good in our lives,” she said.

Click here for more information on Sidewalk Talk or tips on how to become a better listener at home.