Every day, so many words are said, but how many are actually heard?
That’s the basis behind Urban Confessional, a movement that began on the streets of Los Angeles, where a community of artists held up signs reading “Free Listening” and, well, listened. The company — which now spans 50 countries, 40 states, and six continents; there’s also a popular podcast — was founded by Ben Mathes, an acting coach (his students have been nominated for Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Awards), author, professional speaker, and listener who believes people, all people, need to be heard, now more than ever.
Mathes recently stopped by the UPROXX House in Austin, Texas, during SXSW to talk to cultural critic Steven Hyden. “We let people come up and say whatever they need to say,” he explained about Urban Confessionals, even when what’s being said might be considered controversial. “When you hate a racist,” Mathes said, “you’re just continuing the cycle of hate.” That feeling of loathing often comes from a place of not being heard, which is why “I feel like we’re running the the biggest PR campaign for human connection and listening that the world has ever known,” he told Hyden, “and I want the power of listening, the power of connecting to be present in our cultural dialogue.”
If you want to listen to what Mathes has to say, check out the video above, or go here to find out more about Urban Confessional.