These lines are written at two in the morning, on a winter Saturday in Barcelona, leaning on a wooden table in the center of the dining room and under the light of a desk lamp that illuminates the notebook on which I write and the cubata that gives flavor to this insipid night:
When we are children, we all want to do great things, like change the world and explore unknown territories; we dream of goals as big as world peace and we value our colleagues, friends, and family above anything else.
As we grow up, most of us face, sometimes too early what is often called a “reality check”, that moment in which many doors close on us, we experience rejection, the obligation to meet certain standards that are expected of us and we have no choice. At that moment we “understand” that dreaming big is useless. We are persuaded that we should not think beyond ourselves and our “needs”, many of those needs imposed by the social system we are in if we want to survive in the “real” world.
As humans and activists for a better world, we believe that we have every right to dream and experience a genuine human connection with others, regardless of our particular interests and ways of life. All beings have the right to express themselves and to be heard.
If we review the history of man on earth, human groups and primitive societies born with the objective of mutual help and collaboration. Each individual counted. With the growth of society and its complexity, the original objective was lost and, today, it has been replaced by a social system that breaks the basic personal human connection and replaces it with an illusion of global hyperconnectivity, often misleading.
The Free Conversations movement was born, in 2016, from the will and desire to face this process of dehumanization and isolation that we are suffering today.
The movement was born to help. To connect people and promote the free flow of ideas. The Free Conversations Movement understands that the progression of technological and scientific advances since the 20th century, particularly in communication and information, have provided the world with invaluable tools to advance great objectives. But, as a counterpart, they have also given rise to increasingly frequent and massive phenomena of people who feel alone and insignificant, even being hyper-connected.
That is why we believe that talking and communicating face to face with another, as an equal, is an essential activity to recover value and meaning.
That is why the Free Conversations Movement does not marginalize or discriminate. The two chairs are exactly the same.
We are here to fight against a crisis in which, more and more, our condition as humans is often forgotten, to become mere inhabitants. The Free Conversations Movement is here to send a message to the world: let’s talk face to face, which is necessary. Communication unites us humanly, over any difference.
Let’s share stories; let’s expose our experiences, to grow in humanity. In this simple talking and communicating we can all fit: those of the right, those of the left, the young and the old, those who offend and those who are offended, believers and non-believers from any corner of the planet.
Let’s go out into the streets, flood the cities with places where we can sit down and talk. Let’s recover the noble art of conversation,sincerely and without judgement.
Talking to someone new, an unopened book, an untold story. We are missing all this. instead we are selling our lives to technological development, exchanging real conversations for the false belief of being more connected than ever before.
Keeping quiet is no longer an option.
Not taking sides is no longer an option.
The one who is silent, the one who does not look,
the one who does not listen,
who does not become aware,
is part of the oppression.
Go out on the street, meet a friend you haven’t seen for a long time. Talk to the boss you argued with, your neighbor you don’t know. Call your mother, your father, your children and tell them how much you love them.
Let’s reverse the dehumanification process, we still have time to do it.
We challenge the current idea of society. We create spaces in cities where everyone can express themselves freely and be heard.
We work so that all people, regardless of their origin or gender, have someone to talk to and have a conversation with.
Join the Free Conversations Movement. It is a trip for which you will only need two chairs.
The Free Conversations movement started back in 2017 by the hand of Adrià Ballester. It was a Thursday in early summer when Adrià, after a bad day at work, decided to go for a walk in the
beautiful city of Barcelona. After walking for hours he made the top of the mountain to see the Barcelona skyline.
It was cold and foggy as it was late at night, then he saw an elderly man, he was around 80 years old who was also enjoying the skyline.
Some minutes later Adrià and Ramón started talking for something like 30 minutes, then Ramón said “When you will be 80 years old all those problems that seem so big will look so small” and left.
At that moment, Adrià realized how right Ramón was.
Since then, Adrià started to be aware of how important is to talk with people with a different point of view than us. and decided to offer free conversations once a week in the city center.
The goal was to enable a site in the city of Barcelona where people can come to talk whenever they need or want, in addition, he also wanted to put available to the public a place where they can freely express themselves without fear of being tried or judged.
After three years, Adrià has had more than 1400 conversations with people who have very different points of view. Adrià has lived moments of sadness, joy, and of many emotions on those two chairs but, after all, he learned tones from these conversations.
The most beautiful thing has been the displays of affection from the people.
Since it began, he has not stopped receiving messages of support.
It was thanks to this support that Adrià has decided to seek international support with the mission that in all cities there are spaces where people can express themselves calmly and with the freedom of knowing that they will not be judged.