Here’s a collection of stories, testimonials, and general reactions to Free Intelligent Conversation.
We love hearing from you—share your FreeIC experiences, thoughts on the movement, insights, and/or any stories you have, and we’ll post them below.
"Empathy, compassion, and collaboration are lacking in today's modern culture. A group of individuals have taken it upon themselves to encourage a culture that possesses these virtues as its core values. Please support Free Intelligent Conversation (FreeIC) as they go from city to city challenging people of any and all backgrounds to exchange thoughts, passions, and experiences through seemingly forgotten art of face to face conversation. Check out FreeIC and learn how you can become part of this much needed change in today's society. "
Dr. Cornel West
"FreeIC is something that not only broke a lot social barriers for me, but changed my perspective on people in general; I would love the chance to do that for others!"
(Ahmed after encountering FreeIC in Redlands, CA. Ahmed is now the FreeIC Lead for Nashville, TN)
"Love this! Great idea"
"It is an amazing experience. You run into people from all walks of life. It is always a learning experience. You never realize people have so much to share, until you talk with them. From the quick 5 minute inquires, to the deep and intimate 2 hours conversations. There is so much insight to be gained, and experiences to be shared when you communicate with people.
FreeIC is a beautiful thing."
"FreeIC changed my life. Forever.
Whenever I have kids, I want to make sure they expereince FreeIC."
"Yoooo, whenever I am FREE I want to FreeIC 🙌🏽 "
"For me, conversations are one of the strongest forces for learning there is. After hearing about FreeIC, I was excited to get the chance to participate in one of the meet-ups. Every person who passes you by has a story to tell or something to share. Some people just want to talk, others are bored, but once in a while you'll meet someone who will be brave enough to share something weighing on their heart. Those conversations weren't light-hearted but they were honest and genuine. I found them to be the most rewarding."
Free Intelligent Conversation was an eye opening experience for me. The first time I went I had a lot of conversations, that were both serious and light-hearted. One that stood out to me the most was with a guy who had just been fired from his job that very same day, for missing work to attend a funeral for his friend. For a guy who had just lost a friend and been fired he had a very positive outlook on life. After talking to him it made me realize that everyone out there has a story, and no matter how small; a lesson can be learned from it. Being out there I also realized I didn't check my phone even once, and I think FreeIC is doing a very good job of helping people talk face to face and not just over phones and computers. Overall it was a very positive and rewarding experience, and if you have the chance to do it I definitely recommend doing so.
The first time I FreeIC'd, I felt fear, but it didn't stop me.
All kinds of barriers exist in our world, and the most brutal ones are those that exist and aren't talked about.
We have this tendency to fear the unknown, to fear change, to fear the 'other'—someone different than ourselves. Fascinatingly, most of these fears trace back to our greatest collective fear: our self-worth, and what others think of us.
We often don't venture to the unknown and forward necessary change because we doubt we're the worthy ones to do it, and we fear what other people will think of us. We often don't converse with those we deem 'other' because somewhere, tucked underneath—if we're honest with ourselves—we think we're better than them, or else our daily matters of life more pressing than theirs.
But if we faced those barriers, and our own fears, and held up a sign that read "Free Intelligent Conversation," we would find that with each moment longer we did, those barriers would become more and more as though they had never been.
No, fear didn't stop me the first time I FreeIC'd; fear fled
New Brunswick, NJ
My favorite thing about FreeIC is its intentionality. The sign enables the holder to seek a conversation they've never had with a person they've never met. If you find yourself restlessly refreshing your social media feeds or extraordinarily pleased after an unexpectedly interesting conversation, FreeIC will provide the stimulation you crave.
While on Twitter one day, I came across a guy named Jerome. Having not a clue who he was, I saw he was looking for a photographer to shoot a cover for his album. So I sent him a link to my website.
We spoke on the phone, familiarized with each other, and then fell out of contact for a year.
One day while out FreeIC-ing in downtown Chicago, I SEE JEROME WALK UP AND START TALKING TO MY BROTHER (who's FreeIC-ing).
I cannot make this stuff up lol. I had to blink twice to make sure I was not having a hallucination (seriously). I had never met him in person, but recognized the face immediately from remembering his Twitter AVI. I walk up to him, and say—"Excuse me sir, you have no Idea who I am, but I know who you are."
I explained/ reminded him who I was, and he nearly didn’t believe it. Even I could barely believe it, and all the people we were FreeIC-ing with couldn’t believe it either. He then told me, "We MUST work together now, I don't think it gets any clearer than this."
Fast forward two years later and we ended up shooting the video for this BEAUTIFUL song he wrote (THREE YEARS after our Twitter exchange).
Link to video: https://vimeo.com/188098176
Shout out to FreeIC!
"Yeah. FreeIC is the wave 🌊🌊🌊"
"I noticed that in conversations, time flew by. When you’re learning about someone and actually paying attention, fifteen to thirty minutes can pass without you realizing it."
"It was interesting to see the topics that came up with too. In a total of four hours, I talked about conspiracy theories, crafts, dogs, modern film and music, art, universal health care, politics, and much more that I couldn’t have time to write down. It shows that people love having conversations about anything. It doesn’t matter to them as long as they are having one.
A step toward breaking down social barriers was that people of all ages, sexes, and races came to talk. If we could get them to talk to each other, the result would be amazing."
Royal Oak, MI
People are endlessly fascinating to get to know, and FreeIC helped remind me of that all-too-often forgotten reality. Whether the topic was writers' block, jazz music, airplanes, or the vibrating energies of our bodies, it was clear that people were starving for meaningful conversation. I honestly believe that if we were able to have a FreeIC with the people or communities we misunderstood the most, our world would be a much more humane place to live!
"You learn more and find out more things about ones experience that helps you see or better understand another view point on things."
Delray Beach, FL
I was finally able to participate in FreeIC after wanting to for a time, and when the day was done, I completely understood why the movement has garnered such praise. As I held the sign in Chicago, numerous people looked as they passed with demeanors of curiosity and slight confusion. Thankfully, many approached me, and asked what FreeIC. I had, as did other member of FreeIC, make a point that an intelligent conversation constitutes many things. Simply put, the information and knowledge that is unique to us and has value to the respective individual can be translated into an intelligent conversation. With that on the mind of both parties, I and the group of youth that I talked with discussed anime, violence in the black community, police brutality, and music. Despite the cultural and age differences, we were able to find plenty of similarities and common ground. We all learned things about each other that could only be shared with the person that originally held it. FreeIC enables the building of bridges and bring a fresh and very much needed definition of an “intelligent conversation”
FreeIC has made me smile, think, and feel strong. It broadens my optimism and deepens my openness to the world and it's people. It reminds me how different we are, and how similar. FreeIC will—if widely adopted—at least richly impact the small towns and cities where it’s embraced; and at most, change the world.
FreeIC is a declaration of vulnerability in the armor.
"I am here, I am ready, let's talk."
I had the privilege of doing FreeIC over the course of 4 months at Cal Berkeley the #1 public institution in the world. I state that because it is a place that comes with a lot of labels. Not only are the students their brilliant they have incredibly deep and thought out opinions. I learned quickly that when someone stops to talk to you via holding a sign (usually I lured them in by holding my sign upside down with the hopes of them correcting my mistake. #iTroll) all past experience was eliminated and the ability to live in the current experience was the most present thing. It was a place with no barriers. Living in a society that forces us to compartmentalize our thinking and separate us from other people I was able to see people for who they really are and I quickly learned that they were just like myself. FreeIC taught me that all people are on the same path and nothing in life takes us away from that deep desire we all have to seek truth and intelligence. The problem being that we think education comes at an expense that only certain people can teach us and we forget how free intelligence is when we choose to share it with one another.
I’ve been really fortunate to be around FreeIC since it started, and the one thing I have experienced and heard over and over is how the sign—for however simple and gimmicky it might be—creates such a perfect opening to talk to people you would otherwise have no other reason to interact with. The idea is so simple, but strangely powerful.
I truly believe that FreeIC is an activity that everyone should experience at least once. Before I started participating in FreeIC in Chicago, the idea of speaking with new people always filled me with a certain level of anxiety. After all, I have always been an introverted person who is more inclined to listen than to actually speak my mind out loud. Thus, when I was first presented with the idea of FreeIC, I was quite skeptical; however, since my first street conversation, I have come to discover that the FreeIC experience has proven to be invaluable to both my life and my social self-development.
In no other arena have I been privileged to discuss such a wide array of ideas, with such a diverse group of people. I’ve spoken with a Syrian college student who provided first hand accounts of what is happening in his country, with a police officer that discussed what it’s like to protect a community that despises them, with a group of Muslim college students who shared their unique experiences in America, with an individual that believed reptilians rule the world, and with numerous other unique and amazing people. Each FreeIC excursion has truly been a beautifully abnormal experience. And as amazing as these experiences have been so far, what’s even more amazing is that after each conversation, I have found my anxiety, about meeting new people, to be reduced and replaced with a growing level of enthusiasm, confidence, and anticipation.
"It's a great way to break down social barriers and network with strangers!"
"FreeIC showed me that everybody is relatable, that we can make a connection with everyone.☺️"
Sarah Ponce de León
I heard someone say that everyone is a name until you hear their story. For when you hear their story, everything changes, even if for a moment, between the two of you. To that end, I truly believe that stories are sacred. When a story is told, a portal is open between individuals through which experiences, insights, and life itself is shared in the most lucid of ways. Social change is facilitated at the most fundamental level when this portal is open; barriers are broken, prejudices are understood, and perspectives are appreciated. Therefore, the most beneficial facet of Free IC, in my opinion, is that it simplifies the complex, and sometimes, arduous process of building this portal by providing a user-friendly mechanism - A social “hack, if you will, that has simplified the science of connection.
“Free Intelligent Conversation”, while being fiscally “free”, is inestimable in its impact. The irony is unmistakable.
I stopped by today to have an intelligent conversation with Calvin at Millenium park at Chicago. I had a great time talking and I think that this is a great initiative! Keep going!
I was painfully shy and chronically lonely growing up. This made me depressed, apathetic, and hopeless about the future.
The single way out of this for me was by simply talking to strangers. This made me understand that everyone is an interesting story of humanity waiting to be told and listened to. Quickly, the world opened up and I understood what love & courage was all about. Suffice it to say, talking to strangers saved my life.
Imagine the good fortune when I met Kyle Emile and the Free IC crew on Michigan Avenue. I immediately knew they were kindred spirits and they stood for the same principles I do - that freedom, inspiration, and success come from the simple act of having the courage to talk with someone new.
Free Intelligent Conversation is more than something to do on a Saturday. It’s a movement that can help individuals transform themselves, their relationships, and - ultimately - society by taking the time to listen and be curious.
Timothy Leary once instructed us to break social barriers, be courageous, and “find the others”. It’s our job as humans to know our purpose and “find the others” who will walk that path with us. Kyle Emile and the Free IC crew are my “others”!
"FreeIC? That sh💩t is dope. It's a must."