Man stands on the street with 'Free Listening' sign, offers a lending ear to strangers

He says he won't judge or even ask your name. He won't give advice or criticism. He just wants to help by listening in his spare time.


Ever since Kip Clark started sitting on the steps of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Building 7 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, more than 2 years ago, a lot of conversations have been happening.

People stop as they walk along Massachusetts Avenue and turn to him. Some are curious about his inviting sign, which says, "Free Listening."

Others want to take him up on the offer.

"They may stop for 10 seconds, they may stop for 40 minutes," Clark said. "I think a sign invites those who are open to it to interact."

Kip is not a psychologist or therapist and he doesn't go to MIT. He's a digital research analyst and podcast producer who says he wanted to do something meaningful with his spare time.

"The reason this says, 'Free Listening,' and not, 'Free Support or Advice,' is that I genuinely believe if you give someone enough space to unspool their thoughts and feelings they have everything in front of them to sort of resolve it," Clark said.

The anonymity of speaking with a stranger may be the reason some of the people stop.

Kip Clark sits with 'Free Listening' sign and listens to a passerby in Cambridge
Hearst OwnedWCVB
Kip Clark sits with ’Free Listening’ sign and listens to a passerby in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

"For some people that, being anonymous makes it easier to really kind of go deep and not worry about their reputation," said Dr. Marni Chanoff, a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital. "(Or) how it's going to be used against them in the future."

"If I can make someone's day easier, potentially that gets back to me in an unexpected way," said Clark. "I think I get a better world out of it, I suppose, if I do my job effectively."

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