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Urban Confessional

"Urban Confessional" Project Acts Like Free Therapy for City Dwellers

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Urban Confessional

In select cities, you might run into someone with an unusual sign: “free listening.” Founded in Los Angeles by actor Benjamin Mathes, Urban Confessional is based on the idea that people just need someone to talk to, as Co.Exist reports. The organization recruits volunteers to stand in public spaces and offer to lend an ear to anyone who wants to unload something, whether it’s happy news or a heartbreaking tale.

The service is similar StoryCorps—the service that records interviews with average Americans about their lives—but there’s no record of these conversations. It’s a short, free form of talk therapy, albeit one with a stranger without any expertise in mental health treatment.

Urban Confessional organizes Free Listening Day, an annual event in dozens of cities in the U.S. and abroad. For those who want to volunteer more than just once a year, Urban Confessional has a guide [PDF] to facilitating intimate conversations (and staying safe as a volunteer) with strangers.

Even in the age of social media, plenty of people are lonely, and researchers now consider this a major public health issue. Meanwhile, while talk therapy is considered an important treatment for depression (though not a universally effective one), mental health treatment can be expensive and isn’t accessible to everyone. A stranger who listens to your problems for ten minutes on a street corner is no substitute for a mental health professional. However, in the absence of any care, it helps to be able to unburden yourself every once in a while, to someone who doesn’t know and won’t judge you.

[h/t Co.Exist]

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Courtesy Cleveland Clinic
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This Just In
This 90-Year-Old Has Knitted More Than 2000 Hats for Newborn Babies
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Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

Since 2009, 90-year-old Barbara Lowe has been a fixture at Hillcrest Hospital outside Cleveland, but she's not a patient. Almost a decade ago, the Mayfield Heights, Ohio, resident took it upon herself to begin knitting tiny hats for newborn babies delivered at Hillcrest, and has now delivered 2252 hats and counting, according to ABC News.

Lowe lives in a senior living complex across the street from the hospital, so it was an easy jump to go from whipping up hats for the children of her family and friends to delivering teeny headgear to the maternity ward.

Seven pastel knit caps lie on a wooden table.
Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

Using fine baby yarns, Lowe makes ribbed hats with a brim and a detachable flower, spending around four hours on each one. They come in a variety of pastel colors. Lowe is known around town for her work with the hospital, and the manager at the Michaels store she buys her supplies from gives her a discount on the yarn she uses for hospital caps.

"It's my therapy," Lowe told ABC News. "When you're 90, you've got aches and pains. You don't want to think about it. Well, you're not thinking about it if you're concentrating on what you're doing."

Lowe learned to crochet and sew as a child, and later taught herself to knit. She considers it a "dream" to be able to give back to her community by gifting the hats to new parents and their bundles of warm-headed joy. According to the hospital, the hats do more than just keep babies toasty after their first bath—they provide a teaching opportunity to help new parents learn how to keep their babies feeling warm, as a hospital official told Cleveland.com.

[h/t ABC News]

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iStock
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Animals
Meet the Golden Retriever Who is Cleaning Up China's Polluted Rivers, One Plastic Bottle at a Time
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iStock

Instead of simply teaching his dog to “sit,” “shake,” or “roll over,” one environmentally conscious pet owner in China has trained his Golden Retriever to fetch trash from the eastern Jiangsu province’s polluted rivers, Vocativ reports.

When the dog is commanded to “retrieve,” it goes searching for plastic water bottles. The pooch reportedly collects around 20 to 30 bottles a day, and has removed more than 2000 items from the region’s waterways in the past decade.

According to a 2016 report by Public Radio International, China—along with Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam—is one of the world’s leading producers of plastic ocean waste.  Together, the five Asian nations contribute as much as 60 percent of the plastic waste that enters the world’s seas.

This statistic is staggering—but thanks to this persistent dog, we’re reminded that every little bit helps to make a difference.

[h/t Vocativ]

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