Volunteers needed for community listening project

Sidewalk Talk Volunteers

“In a world so divided there is no greater form of activism than to stand for connection rather than disconnection.”

Two Salem Health champions are turning their passion into reality by bringing a national movement called Sidewalk Talk to Salem.

Kelly Ward and Lindsey Cretella are hosting the first free Sidewalk Talk at Salem’s Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 18. Swing by from 1 to 3 p.m. to see what it’s all about!

Lindsey is an RN in our PACU unit; Kelly is outpatient RN care manager for Salem Health Medical Group. They joined this year’s Community Champions team in January and quickly found their project — bridging communication gaps by creating forums where people can be seen and heard in a safe, compassionate setting.

What is Sidewalk Talk?

In 2014, two San Francisco therapists shared a vision: to help heal that which divides us through the fine art of skilled listening. They gathered 26 colleagues, practiced listening skills and came up with a curriculum and model for listening on sidewalks together.

Listeners set up chairs and signs, offering to listen to anyone walking by. SWT became a growing, international nonprofit initiative in 40 cities in 12 countries with more than 1,700 listeners. They have a simple but profound goal: To address isolation with simple, no-strings-attached human connections.

Kelly and Lindsey hope to inspire others to join them. If you’d like to become a listener:

  • Become a member of Sidewalk Talk at (small donation of any amount required to become a member of SWT).
  • Complete the listener training.
  • Purchase your Sidewalk Talk t-shirt (ASAP as they take a bit to get to you).
  • Bring two chairs (for you and a talker). Lindsey and Kelly can provide chairs as needed.
  • Sign a waiver (HIPAA).
  • Adhere to the listener code of conduct.

“When we discovered this movement, we got excited and knew exactly what our project would be and how easy it is for others to join,” Kelly said, noting you buy a t-shirt, follow the training, and bring an open heart and an empty chair to informal “sidewalk talks.” 

They plan to have a meetup for all listeners a week or two before the event to meet other listeners, make signs, review the code of conduct and sign waivers.  

To learn more, go to Sidewalk Talk’s website:

The first Salem SWT event is Saturday, May 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Riverfront Park near the statue of Governor Tom McCall (the fisherman). Check out their Facebook page here.  You can register to attend here.