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Talking, Sharing, Solving
By Kay Feathers
"The mission: to uplift humanity one conversation at a time. --Free Advice Girl, Lisa Podell
Growing up, you probably heard those fables of desperate people climbing tall mountains to seek the advice of a soothsayer or witch or wizard or somebody who knew what was up (besides the sky.) In Manhattan, the trek to wisdom is much shorter.
That's thanks to Lisa Podell, a.k.a. Free Advice Girl, a longtime applied theatre teacher who's traveled the world leading workshops in prisons, schools, and homeless shelters. She has made New York's Washington Square Park her spiritual home. That's where she puts out a simple cardboard sign reading 'Free Advice' and lies in wait for strangers to approach her and ask for help. Well, most don't ask for help as much as they do a caring ear and a caring heart.
In an email to Quail Bell Magazine, Podell wrote, "I don't tell anyone what to think or what to do but listen and ask questions to help them discover what THEY want and to take action from there."
She's interested in assisting folks with finding solutions. So they talk it out for as long as it takes.
And where is all of this conversation going? In an email, Podell wrote:
"I have started The Advice Project—various projects that have been created as a direct result of offering Free Advice in the park. They all support the mission of uplifting humanity one conversation at a time. The latest project is a series of workshops that a colleague of mine and I have created and are teaching in a NYC high school classroom. The program is designed to empower young students and help them to develop and express their own voice. We do this through the teaching of communication skills, life skills and storytelling. We aim to have this program offered in public schools throughout the city."
And to think it all started with sitting in the park.
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