Urban Confessional
Urban Confessional

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

Urban Confessional
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]

Watch Koko the Gorilla Meet Her New Pet Kittens

Koko the gorilla passed away at the age of 46 this week. Though she was best known for her use of sign language, her love of cats is what made her a media darling.

In 1983, the western lowland gorilla reportedly told trainer Penny Patterson that she wanted a cat. Patterson and her fellow researchers at The Gorilla Foundation supported this idea, hoping that caring for a cat might prepare Koko for motherhood.

They gave Koko a lifelike stuffed animal and after she ignored that gift, she was given a gray kitten for her birthday in July 1984. Koko rejoiced. She named the cat All Ball and carried him around like a baby. All Ball got out of Koko's cage and was hit by a car just a few months later. Trainer Penny Patterson shared the news with Koko, who, Patterson said, began crying. “Sleep cat,” she reportedly signed.

For Koko's 44th birthday in 2015, Patterson let her pick out two new pets from a litter of kittens. The result was as cute as you might expect.

For more Koko videos, follow kokoflix on Youtube.

Build Your Own Cat With These LEGO-Like Blocks

It’s one thing to commission a custom portrait of your pet, but it’s quite another to build a life-size sculpture of them yourself with more than a thousand LEGO-like bricks. That’s exactly what you can do with the cat sculptures made by the Hong Kong-based toy-brick-makers at JEKCA (“building blocks for kidults,” as the company describes itself).

The pet sculptures, which we spotted over on Bored Panda, come in the shape of various breeds and colors that allow you to choose one that looks uncannily like your own pet. As long as your cat looks like a typical orange tabby or tuxedo shorthair, Siamese, Persian, or other garden variety cat, at least. They come in different colors and are available in multiple positions, whether it’s sitting, walking, pouncing, or playing.

Made of more than 1200 individual bricks each, the cat sculptures run about a foot tall, and between about half a foot and a foot long, depending on whether they’re sitting, standing on their hind legs, or walking. They come with instructions for assembly and can be taken apart and built again as many times as you want. But you don’t have to worry about them falling apart, according to JEKCA, since the blocks are secured by screws. “These cats are like real sculptures and will not collapse or break apart,” the company writes on its Facebook.

Six different calico cat sculptures in different positions

You could build one that looks exactly like your cat or adopt one of the brick animals as a pet itself. Buy a whole team of them, and it’ll look like your house is overrun with a cat gang—minus the extreme litter box cleaning that comes with being a traditional crazy cat lady.

The cat sculptures cost between $60 and $90, plus shipping, depending on the size of the kit and how many bricks it requires. You can see them all here. If cats aren’t your favorite pet, the company also makes dogs, birds, and other animals as well. Although, sadly, unlike their domestic pets, their dolphins and deer don’t come in life-size versions.

[h/t Bored Panda]


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