Welcome! Since 2015, ya'll have had quite a lot of questions and your questions allow us to stop and really rest a little longer in "Hey, what are we building here together?". So thank you! We are clear we want to focus on our mission and stay focused so we can be this cool, scrappy, community-led effort. Thanks for your questions and keep 'em coming to email@example.com because together, we are making an impact. We are not building this project. YOU are building this project. If something is missing, lean in. Make it happen!
Q. Can I go out with a friend and listen on my own?
A. Short answer, No. We have thought this answer over many times over the years. Some folks get disappointed by this so let us explain our rationale and if this doesn't meet your needs, we can refer you to some other connection projects that are looser in their orientation like Liberators International, Compassionate Listening Project, The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy and others. Our logo and tagline are trademarked and we ask you not use them without being a part of the Sidewalk Talk tribe.
Why all this? We have had some instances where unsafe people have signed up to volunteer. They were looking for a way to meet dates, did not have the internal support to handle crisis situations, or they were looking for a platform for personal exposure and fame. Moreover, we aim to create a community leadership mindset in how we grow Sidewalk Talk. We produce an ethic of listening as a practice not feeling sorry for or helping our community in a way that is disempowering. We also want all our listeners keeping in mind unconscious bias that impact our listening while also creating safety. Part of being an empowering, bottom-up, and community driven organization means we elevate diverse leadership in our community. So inside Sidewalk Talk we are mindful how we build our organization around inclusion. If you do not see your community represented, lean in and start a chapter. All are welcome here! All are empowered here!
Q. How do I find an event to volunteer for?
A. Go to our events page to get information on the latest events being scheduled in your area. Also, join the Sidewalk Talk Volunteer Facebook page for last minute events. We will also email monthly with a general newsletter. We also have volunteer coordinators (who are also volunteers) you can email here at firstname.lastname@example.org and Aimee or Erin will answer your questions.
Q. Is sitting out on the sidewalk talk listening to the public an ethical violation for therapists?
A. We get asked this question a lot. No. We are not acting as therapists. Sure, we use our good listening skills that we have honed as clinicians but we are not soliciting clients for ourselves (which would be a dual relationship) and we are not offering 'free therapy on the street'. That is what is refreshing about this project. We are showing up as citizens. A therapist who listens at a BBQ is not beholden to ethics guidelines or duty to report in California (check your laws to find out about reporting laws) nor is listening in a public setting considered a violation of ethics because we aren't acting as clinicians. Many of our therapists have reported their own clinical skills have been elevated by this project because they got to experience offering deep listening without being in the "role" of a therapist. If you have any doubt about this, call your state board and check it out. We already have checked it out legally and ethically but as in all things, if you feel anxious you should also place a call into your governing bodies to soothe your fears. Finally, 50% of our volunteers are not therapists.
Q. What if I am listening to someone and they talk about harming themself or someone else?
A. In our online training we talk about risk assessing to determine if you need to call the police. We also offer listening tips for difficult listening scenarios on our volunteer Facebook group. We hold you tightly so you feel confident how to respond and this is also one of the beautiful aspects of Sidewalk Talk. Because so many therapists volunteer alongside non therapists, volunteers learn to be more informed and capable citizens in supporting someone who is suffering with a mental health condition. At each listening event your leader will bring emergency numbers and crisis lines to give out to people. And don't forget, there is a whole community of volunteers who have your back in any situation or any response you have to a listening session. You are supported here.
Q. When will I get my Sidewalk Talk volunteer t-shirt?
A. Shirts are printed in bulk on the 1st of every month for all orders received the previous month. Your shirt should arrive at your front door by the 13th. If you are an international listener, your city leader may have shirts to sell or loan directly to you. You do not need to own a t-shirt to volunteer.
Q. I want to lead Sidewalk Talk in my city. Can you tell me more what is involved and if I need any pre requisites I should know about?
A. All city leaders must be in the mental health field or certified in Safe Conversations or Non Violent Communication in order to lead a chapter. Over the years, we have found that folks who are self-starters in the mental health field who like to take personal ownership of running their own franchise thrive here. Visit our City Leaders Page for more information.
Q. Do you provide liability insurance for volunteers?
A. No we do not. Sidewalk Talk, as an entity, is insured but our volunteers sign a release of liability waiver. However, many venues want to see a copy of our insurance which is not a problem to provide.
Q. Do you have any job openings or other ways to get involved that does not involve listening on the street?
A. We do not have any paid employees. But we welcome donated help with photography, graphics, public relations and fundraising. We have pulled this off because this isn't "our" project it is "your" project. Every coordinator that you talk to or person you interact with does this while working a full time job and often tending to a busy family life. Thank You for even asking this question. We want you to join in!
Q. We would like to support Sidewalk Talk as a donor and/or community partner. How do we partner with you?
A. Email email@example.com