Urban Confessional Inspires Connection, Promises Unprecedented Involvement on Free Listening Day 2017

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Grassroots listening movement expands global reach, launches HEARD podcast

Due to record expansion of its listening movement, grassroots organization Urban Confessional and its growing network of listeners will take to the streets on April 11, 2017, connecting communities through the power of one-on-one listening on its third-annual Free Listening Day. Free Listening Day 2017 promises to be a highly visible international event with unprecedented global impact, with new listening groups in action throughout Sweden, Nigeria, Germany, Cuba and several other Spanish-speaking countries over the past year.

“It’s easy for volunteers to get involved online and on the ground,” Urban Confessional Founder Benjamin Mathes explained. “With just a piece of cardboard, a marker and an open ear, listeners are equipped to change the world by listening to anyone wanting to be heard.”

Urban Confessional’s growth has been supported by social media communities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where both listeners and those they listen to report listening sessions help them cope with everyday stresses and pressures. Mathes explained, “Listeners do not give advice, and they are not therapists. They simply listen, connecting to another human in a world where meaningful connections are on the verge of extinction.”

To further extend the impact of Free Listening Day 2017, Urban Confessional is also launching a new podcast entitled HEARD on April 11th. HEARD is aimed at amplifying stories of what it means to be human and genuinely heard. It features host Benjamin Mathes, Urban Confessional Founder and speaker, who will be joined by new guests each episode to explore issues intersecting with the topic of listening and being heard.

“The level of ‘boots-on-the-ground’ involvement over the past five years has been phenomenal,” Mathes shared. “With the new HEARD podcast, we are hoping to reach even more people with the message that listening connects us, human-to-human, in a powerful way that both grounds us and heals.”

Initial podcasts to be available on iTunes and at http://www.HEARD.world will include a special Free Listening Day episode, featuring leaders from partner organizations. These guest speakers include Kay Lindhal of The Listening Center, Pearce Godwin of the Listen First Project, Tracy Ruble of Sidewalk Talk, and Greg Madison who began the World Day of Listening in the UK just last year. Essential to the Free Listening movement’s growth, partnerships with like-minded organizations continue to move the Free Listening movement and its message of hope forward.

“Listening is a basic human capability and need,” Mathes said. “Setting aside one day a year on Free Listening Day to drive this message home and rally others to get involved is just another way to put this belief into action, and the HEARD podcast will help keep the momentum going year-round.”

As Free Listening Day 2017 nears, Urban Confessional is also ramping up listener-empowerment efforts by publishing multilingual volunteer guides available at http://www.urbanconfessional.org in Spanish, German, and Swedish, with Korean-, Japanese-, Chinese-language guides in the works. Listeners are also encouraged to share their location on the Urban Confessional website to help measure and illustrate the Free Listening Day’s impact.

“Urban Confessional listeners are making a difference all around the world,” Mathes said. “So, if you see someone in your community holding a #FreeListeningDay sign, don’t just keep moving. Stop, and share what’s on your mind. You’ll just feel better. You can’t argue with that.”

To learn how to join the Free Listening movement, follow hashtags #FreeListeningDay and #UrbanConfessional; or go to http://www.freelisteningday.org or http://www.urbanconfessional.org for complete details.

About Urban Confessional:

Born in 2012 on the streets of Los Angeles, California, Urban Confessional began as a community of actors determined to challenge the status quo. Every week, they stood on street corners in LA with signs that read “Free Listening” and opened their hearts to anyone who needed to laugh, cry, scream, or chat. Over the years, the community has grown to include people from all walks of life across 6 continents, 50 countries, and 40 states. 

What does Free Listening look like? Imagine everyday people holding a cardboard sign with the words “Free Listening” written in marker. Imagine passersby glaring at a listener skeptically at first, but then gradually stopping to talk – about anything.

Today, Urban Confessional is a growing grassroots movement, open to anyone, anywhere. Listeners are found as far away as South Africa and as close as downtown Los Angeles. The first Free Listening Day in 2015 generated Free Listening efforts in 13 countries. In the U.S., listeners held impromptu “listening stations” in 20 cities across seven states. For more information, visit http://www.urbanconfessional.org.

About Benjamin Mathes:

Listener - Benjamin is the founder of Urban Confessional: A Free Listening Movement. Born on the streets of Los Angeles, California, Urban Confessional began as a community of actors determined to challenge the status quo. Every week, they stood on street corners in LA with signs that read “Free Listening” and opened their hearts to anyone who needed to laugh, cry, scream, or chat. Over the years, the community has grown to include people from all walks of life across 6 continents, 50 countries, and 40 states.

Coach - Benjamin Mathes draws upon his 15+ years of creative development, artistic leadership, and social entrepreneurship to help senior executives, management, and sales teams increase their creative capital in business leadership and team building, individual productivity, and presentation acumen. His out-of-the-box approach and result-oriented process have proven effective in numerous industries including healthcare, automotive, fitness, financial services, entertainment, and non-profit, as well as multi-faceted organizations.

Artist - An actor for more than 20 years Benjamin has worked with artists such as Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood, Academy Award-winning actor Alan Arkin, Sam Raimi, Bradley Cooper, Andy Garcia, Chris Rock, and Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer. He received his MFA in Acting from the University of California-Irvine. As an acting teacher, he has been on faculty or taught workshops at dozens of universities and conservatories around the world. His acting studio, CRASH, inspires a guerrilla approach to acting driven by the idea that service is the context for artistic greatness. His students have been nominated or awarded Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Ovation Awards, and have appeared on Broadway, as guest stars and series regulars on television, and in major motion pictures.

Author - Benjamin is the author of two books detailing and investigating the creative process. The first, Thought Lozenges for Artists, is a daringly optimistic, “open-where-you-want” look into the creative process, and the second, CRASH (unstuck yourself) is a guided journal designed to directly combat the blocks holding us from our creative potential.

For more information, please visit http://www.benjaminmathes.com.

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Chiara McCarty
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