Testimonials

Here’s a collection of testimonials, stories, 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


Holding a FreeIC sign almost immediately breaks down social barriers and will allow you to hear very intimate and personal stories from complete strangers that you would've never spoken to otherwise. My time spent in Chicago and Atlanta with that powerful little sign allowed me to hear the unique life experiences of countless people from all walks of life and in turn has changed the way I view people individually and the world as a whole. The hours spent participating in FreeIC are priceless and unforgettable.

DJ Haskins
Atlanta, GA


"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)

Ahmed A.
Redwood, CA


My experience with FreeIC was overwhelmingly positive and rewarding. Having the opportunity to make genuine connections with people of all walks of life was an experience I’ll never forget. From serious talks about the state of U.S. politics to lighthearted talks about breakfast foods, the underlying feeling was one of human enjoyment. Moreover, I realized after that not only did I learn about other people, but I learned about myself along the process. Namely, my day instantly becomes better when I become an empathetic listener to other people’s stories.

Austin Downs
Washington, D.C.


"Love this! Great idea"

Soledad O'Brien


FreeIC is a beneficial tool for anyone seeking to improve their extroversion skills. It also is uniquely useful in developing diverse perspectives and insights. In all, a great resource for those interested in self improvement and growth.

Josh Faehner
Chicago, IL


"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."
 

Elijah Horton
Chicago, IL


“Networking is one of FreeIC’s greatest benefits, even if it’s often unintentional.  

I met a designer named Alex while out one day, he had just moved to Chicago to be a part of the marketing department of a large retailer that was based in the area.
 
We ended up talking about everything from a world uniting moon landing to the societal intricacies of foreign policy. 

We traded business cards and exchanged a few emails over the next couple of months but ultimately fell out of touch. 

Two years later I walked onto a photoshoot and I ran into Alex again. We reconnected and I ended up with an interview for their company and now do freelance photography for them! 

Moral of the story: you never know what connections will end up paying off in the end. #freeic”

Austin Ho
Chicago, IL


"FreeIC changed my life. Forever.

Whenever I have kids, I want to make sure they expereince FreeIC."

Eric Dees
Chicago, IL


New to the city of Chicago, I was looking for ways to connect with people when I happened to come across FreeIC. It sounded fresh, fun, intelligent and honestly a little intimidating. So one fine Saturday afternoon I took a deep breath & thought to give it a go, what could go wrong?
 Now if you ask me how was it? I’d say it ended up being one of the ‘most MEMORABLE evening’s’ of my life. The group was friendly, inviting & hooked me up with one of their pro’s & that made me extremely comfortable in the start. 
I remember standing there for 5 min, a little nervous & wondering to myself ‘what if no one stops by’ & ‘if I was making a fool of myself’. Boy I was surprised! There are so many out there, plenty who have wonderful ideas to share & are just as curious as you are. I ended up having conversations ranging from something as simple as ‘How was your day?’ to ‘living the Caribbean life’ & ‘all about Indian culture’ you’ll be astonished to how much people have to offer.
By the end of that session it opened my eyes and gave me an in dept outlook to the fact that just a mere conversation can be so powerful. I applaud their team for coming up with this idea and the guts to implement their movement beyond paper.
 In closing I’ll say If there’s anything on your bucket list- it should be to try ‘Free-Ic at least once’

Chanpreet Aulakh
Chicago, IL


"Yoooo, whenever I am FREE I want to FreeIC 🙌🏽 "

Valencia Nainggolan
Chicago, IL


Conversation. So many of us are afraid to have one. And with a stranger? That's absolutely unheard of.. but that's where FreeIC comes in. Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert .. FreeIC finds a way to bring out the best in you. It teaches you the importance of a conversation and just how much you can learn by simply speaking with those you come in contact with. It strategically exposes the beauty of humanity through the exchange of ideas and thoughts.. it's raw.. unconventional and truly an experience of a life time. Who knew a simple conversation could do so much.. with the rise of social media diminishing face to face interactions.. FreeIC is exactly what our society needs...and I love being part of this ground breaking movement. 

Rachel O'Reggio
Naples, FL


I am one who truly enjoys conversation; one of my favorite things to do is to sit and talk, and exchange opinions. If you’re anything like me, FreeIC is a movement you’d want to be a part of because it provides an opportunity to do just that. It stems from one random question that then sparks a range of conversational topics- from in-depth personal stories to silly responses. During my time Free-ICing, I’ve encountered people from all walks of life, with backgrounds both similar and different from mine. I am excited to be involved in a movement that can make a difference, for me and for the people I speak with. I like knowing that the conversations we have might evolve into something bigger than just that moment. It felt good to be disconnected (even if for a couple of hours), look someone in the eye, and just talk.

Anusha Sivalingam
Washington, D.C.


"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."

Giovanni Mwesigwa
Chicago, IL


I was hesitant to FreeIC because I didn't believe I had value to add to any conversation. I thought I needed to be scholarly and well-read. I thought if my thoughts weren't mind-blowing, then there was no point to speak on them.

But I went anyway. And I had almost an hour long conversation with a woman that simply wanted to be heard. She spoke to me on her work, passions, values, and perspective. I could barely get a word in edgewise, but I learned so much from her. I think that was the whole point. 

Yes, I was the one holding the white cardboard that invited people to converse with me. But I, too, was searching for pieces of intelligence that people owned. The information this woman shared with me was not extraordinary; this is what she knew. This was her intelligence. 

IQ, grades, positions of influence, social status, etc. do not determine your intelligence. You are intelligent because you possess a unique perspective on life and its various facets. We are all intelligent. And we need to add to the conversation. 

Adrianne Magsipoc
Chicago, IL


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.

Yaw Brefo
Chicago, IL


This is an AMAZING movement and we stand behind it 100%, Keep it going!!! It was a pleasure getting to know two beautiful young ladies, Gabby and April.... Until we speak again my friends! #FreeIntelligentConversation

Kelly Kris
Chicago, IL


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

Jordan Soliday
New Brunswick, NJ


Free Intelligent Conversation [FreeIC] is the best, organized, interpersonal interaction I have ever experienced! In a technology age that has all but robbed our society of meaningful face-to-face interaction, FreeIC is a phenomenal event that all aspiring conversationalist MUST encounter!!

Michael Polite 
Berrien Springs, MI


If you observe closely, there’s something mesmerizing about human interaction. Signs and signals are thrown back and forth between differing agents. Messages given unknowingly may be caught by the receiver in an instant or never understood until years later in a moment of nostalgia. Subjective thoughts, moods, and emotions are transmitted and become alive in the hopes of setting up shop in someone’s psyche and alters that person’s conscious experience of life in one way or another. Maybe the exchange of expressions unluckily ends up fragmented and lost in translation. Yet, an exchange could be so powerful it could revolutionize a civilization with the nature of its energy only to be understood centuries after an ideology accomplishes its course, forever altering the trajectory of history.

The whole ordeal is one of beauty, horror, and mystery.

Yet there are those moments that hopefully we all have encountered; where an interaction with another human makes us feel like the world actually is in some way “alright”. It’s those encounters where you learn to appreciate your neighbor, yourself, and our human family a little more. Where you experience and realize things that you could only know by encountering another human being, and you could only understand by coming face to face with a primary source. Where whatever you heard from whatever propaganda given you by your family, friends, education, religion, race, or nation is proven utterly incorrect and inadequate. Where there’s a paradigm shift if only for a second and you realize that maybe you don’t have all the answers and that the door to knowledge must be left open for guests to enter and exit as they give and receive knowledge. Maybe it’s a little bit “raw”, but it feels real nonetheless.

As hard as I’ve tried to describe what it’s like to engage with someone face to face, I know I can’t express its totality. What I do know is that it’s more invigorating than entertainment transmitted via a screen, billboard, or paper. It’s living art in real time that demands reaction or the absence thereof. And it’s what all we care about most is based upon. This is why I fuck w/ FreeIC

Isaiah Horton
Chicago, IL


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.

Liz Doyle
Chicago, IL


As someone who is pretty outgoing and talkative, Free IC challenged me to engage in conversations different from what I was accustomed to. Every single time I went out there I was nervous and didn't know what to expect. Every single time I was left amazed at how interesting people are and how much there is to learn from just talking to them — especially people I would probably not have interacted with otherwise. From my experience, Free IC is most definitely for everyone.

Jerome Murray
Orlando, FL


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! 

Jeffrey E.
Chicago, IL


Today I spoke to strangers. 

I experienced vulnerability, public speaking, and micro expressions. I spoke to drunk people, met someone from Saudi Arabia, and took pictures with the elderly. 

I looked at amazing art from this young artist's notebook and found an Auntie in this woman. 

I didn't have Wifi all day.
And that was a good thing

#FreeIC

Givan Hinds
Chicago, IL


"Yeah. FreeIC is the wave 🌊🌊🌊"

Addae Lathem
Chicago, IL


FreeIC is the cure to our generations lack of social skills. Also can be a cure to social anxiety issues and prejudices we have the more we communicate and learn that we're more alike than different.

Johno DeAugust
Chicago, IL


Met so many awesome people in Chicago doing FreeIC. Rediscovering the art of basic conversation and human interaction. These are a fraction of the awesome people from all over the world I met today! #FREEIC #chicago #humaninteraction #goodconversation

Cointe St.Brice
Chicago, IL


"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."

Matt Harmon
Royal Oak, MI


Oftentimes in society when we hear the word “free” our first thought is: what’s the catch? Because we have been taught from a young age that nothing in this world is free. However, when the word “free” is used in conjunction with the words “intelligent conversation” there is no catch. The first time I joined the Free IC group I was pretty nervous about it, but as time went by I began to feel comfortable standing on the sidewalk talking to complete strangers. I learned so much about the people I talked with and many of them gave me valuable life advice. It was amazing to see the smiles on people’s faces as they walked away from me; I had helped brighten someone’s day! In a world so full of technology it is hard to have quality face-to-face time with people, but this Free IC movement is reviving the lost art that is intelligent and meaningful conversation. I encourage everyone to become a part of this movement; it doesn’t take a special person to have a conversation. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Hannah Mbungu
Chicago, IL


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!

Jonathan Doram
Chicago, IL


FreeIC is an unexpected experience. When was the last time that you spoke to dozens of people from different ethnic backgrounds and faiths in just one day? FreeIC allowed me to open my perspective on people from different parts of the world and from people who live life differently than myself. When I think about my first time going out, I was astonished by the diversity of those that came to chat. There was even a point in time where I was talking to a catholic, a hindu, a muslim, and an atheist, ALL at the same time. As I was holding a conversation with one person, others would stop to figure out why a group of us were just talking on the street. FreeIC provides an open-minded approach to conversations that allows anyone to participate, and freely discuss whatever is on their mind without feeling judged for their thoughts. This sort of human connection can’t be underestimated. If counseling and therapy are the cure for mental illness, then connecting and communicating are it’s preventative measures. 

So get out there and communicate... There are millions of people waiting for the same type of connection. 

#FreeIC

Brian Davisson
Chicago, IL


"You learn more and find out more things about ones experience that helps you see or better understand another view point on things."

Junior Orelus
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”

Jordan Smart
Chicago, IL


To be honest, FreeIC at first was just a joke to me. The idea of going out to have regular conversations with people you randomly meet on the street being something special was laughable. However, with the recent social and political climate in the U.S., FreeIC in actuality is a much needed countermeasure to a culture that has begun to hide behind electronic keyboards.

My first outing for FreeIC is what changed my mind. My first day included a couple of memorable interactions, but the one that affected me the most was a meeting of five female University of Chicago students—who all happened to be Muslim. To me actually, they weren’t Muslims, followers of God, extremists, vagabonds or whatever else the media portrays Muslims as. Rifqa and her friends just happened to be five normal young adults out in the city of Chicago who wanted to have a conversation.

The thing is, it’s easier for me to accept them as regular people who believe differently than me when it comes to religion. This is because as an African American growing up in New York, it’s usually better to judge people by their actions, instead of how they look or what they believe in. But as a result of the media lately employing the use of echo chambers to create stronger social barriers, judging by actions instead of beliefs has become a lot harder for some. FreeIC however allows us to see past the false advertisement/news, and instead celebrate each others differences.

Regie Santana
Chicago, IL



"We agree. Meeting you ladies was the highlight of our day."

Jennifer Sawyer
Chicago, IL


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.

Olivia Ruiz-Knott
Boston, MA


“But is it really free?” he said as he blew cigarette smoke into my face. This was not how I expected this conversation to begin, a conversation I provoked by holding up a white cardboard sign with “Free Intelligent Conversation” printed on it. Perhaps these words do seem a bit off-putting at first to the people walking by me on this bright Chicago afternoon - about as off-putting as this man seemed to me.

But then I told him what this sign represents. That yes, it is really free. That “intelligent” is not a claim to my mental superiority over him, but an invitation for us to learn from each other. That I wanted to learn from him. And after staring at me for what seemed like an eternity, the man replaced cigarette smoke with bright smiles and his thoughts on the divisive nature of the U.S. Government, the presence of addiction in all human lives, and the harmful chemicals still found in shampoos. Among many other things. And as we laughed and debated and experienced the joys of human connection, I thought “We probably would have never spoken to each other under normal circumstances.” Like the sea of people passing us by, we simply would have been “too busy” for each other. But we were able to connect.

All because I chose to stand on a Chicago sidewalk one afternoon and hold up a white cardboard sign, branded with those iconic words.

Reginald Desrosiers
Chicago, IL


Kyle asked me to share a story about FREEIC but instead I’m just gonna take this opportunity to talk about Kyle. And he has to run it because he knows I know this the type of unorthodox content he likes. It’s okay, just put this between Soledad and Cornel and visitors will still know actual important people are feeling FREEIC. 

I first heard about FREEIC when I saw Kyle and his collective touting the signs around our university. “Free Intelligent Conversation” written in my favorite font on a white background all hipster-like. My first thought was, “What kind of elitism is this?” You see, Kyle and I were friends on Facebook but we had never really talked. I mean, obviously we exchanged words and a pleasantries, but what I’m saying is that when you truly talk to somebody for the first time, you remember it. There are a lot of commas in that sentence. So anyways, this sign caught my attention. Due to my first thought referenced above I wanted to hate on it, but there was this avalanche of curiosity building inside of me. I wanted to know more and dive deeper into what this sign meant beyond the social media posts. This lead to Kyle and I having a conversation. It was intelligent. It was free. 

Crap. 

He got me. Damn Psych Majors and their mind games. The millennial-cliche facade of his sign lured me in until I was right where he wanted me…having a free intelligent conversation. Soon I realized that the sign was far from elite. Actually, it was welcoming. The first thing you’re told when you are hooked into a FREEIC is that it is in fact your intelligence that is in demand. The conversationalist used their slick sign to suck your unique intelligence out of you, all the while you thought they were promoting their own. FREEIC enables people to give something that is inherent in them: their experience. I’ve had a number of experiences FREEICing where people have felt empowered to share of their deepest experiences with me, and I with them. It’s just this very unique moment where you are able to give to a complete stranger. At the end you feel used, but in an accomplished way. It’s like donating a kidney. And that’s exactly what Kyle wants. He wants you to feel like you just donated a kidney. 

So if you’re reading this, you obviously don’t get it. You’re not supposed to be on the internet right now. You should be holding a sign, or more importantly, holding a conversation. Because if you want to be like Kyle, you need to FREEIC. 

You want to be like Kyle.

Jonathan Jacobs
Orlando, FL


FreeIC is a declaration of vulnerability in the armor. 
"I am here, I am ready, let's talk."

Jeremy Faehner
Chicago, IL


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.

Logan Stout
Berkeley, CA


I first heard about Free Intelligent Conversation when it was just getting started and to be honest I was skeptical. I didn’t think that anyone would stop to talk to people holding signs and I imagined the sign-holders suffering a lot of abuse at the hands of strangers. But after I saw FreeIC in action, and heard about some of the conversations secondhand, I couldn’t wait to get involved. Having conversations in downtown Chicago was such a positive experience for me that when I moved to California I started doing FreeIC every week. I got to start new friendships, I was exposed to new concepts, and I learned so much more about…everything. Now I’ve moved again and I’m excited to do some FreeIC in New York City too. Because if there’s one thing FreeIC has taught me it’s this: there is no better way to learn about your neighbors, your community, your city, your world, yourself, than by spending time in intelligent conversation with a new person.

Kyle Dever
Manhattan, NY


I believe I was lucky to be invited to join Free IC. The whole concept of just standing on a sidewalk with a sign waiting for people to approach you was foreign to me, so I pushed myself to try something new. At first nervousness and the constant fear of not knowing what to talk about might bother you, but after the first 2 minutes within a conversation autopilot takes over and you find yourself just talking to someone new. Despite the occasional weird looks, awkward encounters, and rare boring conversations, it was refreshing for me to meet new people in this fashion. I appreciate every genuine conversation I had. I know for sure I wouldn't have ever met the people I met, if it wasn't for FreeIC.

Calvin Parinussa
Chicago, IL


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.

Ivan Ruiz-Knott
Boston, MA


I joined the Free Intelligent Conversation group in downtown Chicago this evening.
Promoting face to face conversations by holding this sign and letting anyone come to talk to you about whatever they want.
I gained and learned so much from strangers today. Thank you Chicago!

Join the movement! Everyone is capable of having an "intelligent conversation". 

Arah Cho
Chicago, IL


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.

Clifford Allen
Chicago, IL


"World Changer"

Kimberly Jimenez‎ 
Chicago, IL


"It's a great way to break down social barriers and network with strangers!"

Averil Mawuntu
Chicago, IL


Technology has made everything so easy. The reality of that ease is that it has allowed people to become lazy with their understanding. We stretch our minds for achievements, for financial gain, for power, but we are unwilling to stretch our minds to actually interact -much less understand- other humans. We associate with people “like us”. We speak in brief sentences, through text messages. Our Facebooks have decided who we should interact with based on complicated algorithms and the end result is a lot of very comfortable, socially ignorant people. We have disconnected from anyone who is different than us because it is efficient. This disconnect is a cultural impediment to progress, and the only way to heal it is to regularly exercise our minds by meeting humans in real life. It’s easier to dismiss someone’s opinions, to disempower entire groups of people, to minimize problems, and to ignore shortcomings of a system when you can just keep scrolling. Prejudice is easy like that. But with FreeIC that is not an option. You are face-to-face with people who regularly disagree with you. Some of your beliefs are strengthened, but often times you realize you actually know very little about people who are only a little different than you. By FreeIC-ing, you expose yourself to possibility. Sometimes that possibility is only a casual conversation, a debate, a job offer. But sometimes it gets emotional, and after the person walks away its hard to breathe and talk to someone new because of the weight of your conversation, and the implications it will have on one or both of you. Its an incredibly unique and varied experience that has the potential for massive personal and cultural development.

Kristiana Mitacek
Chicago, IL


This is how I see it. Earth is a place of scarce resources and this is not just an environmental issue. Scarcity of resources is, arguably, at the root of all modern conflicts and social strife. Economists disagree on how to solve this problem, yet they tend to recognize that it is very difficult to build a society that distributes resources evenly, in hopes to satisfy each of its citizens’ interests. On this subject, Friedrich Hayek’s article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” points out that a fundamental problem for economic planning is that knowledge is dispersed among many people. In other words, the knowledge I have—based on my subjective experience—is only a small fraction of the sum total of knowledge held by all members of society. 

This matters because we live in a world of conflict—conflict born out of competing self-interests. Our biggest challenge is that we do not know enough about what people, other than those we call “ours,” want. We do not know enough about people with different experiences to care for these individuals’ well being. 

FreeIC provides a medium for the dissemination of knowledge, in a personal way that breeds empathy. I can’t remember a single stranger I’ve met FreeIC-ing, that did not teach me something new about the vastness and simultaneous universality of human experience. That, in these troubled times, is a precious thing.

Alejandra Castillo
Chicago, IL


"FreeIC showed me that everybody is relatable, that we can make a connection with everyone.☺️" 

Sarah Ponce de León
Washington, D.C.


FreeIC is revolutionary in its simplicity. There is nothing more organic to the human experience than the sharing of thoughts, emotions, ideas, and experiences. It’s how we connect. It’s how we empathize. It’s how we love. Productive discourse between people from various backgrounds and ideologies is necessary to move society forward; to keep people in tune with each other.

Now more than ever, FreeIC is needed. Listening and hearing the stories of other people opens our minds and hearts to those who don’t look, think, or believe as we do. This is how society moves forward. This is how the “world becomes a better place.”  FreeIC is just the beginning.

Imani Cherry
Washington D.C.


Free Intelligent Conversation is, by its nature, something that presents people with an opportunity. In my experience, biases and discrimination can often be the result of lack of opportunity to experience that which is previously unknown to you. Lack of opportunity can be attributed to many factors, but to aspire beyond the immediate situation of your familiar surroundings and learn about those different than yourself often takes an effort of intention. Many people are not blessed with the opportunity to travel and learn from cultures drastically different than their own. By beholding we become changed. However, the fact of the matter is that it is not even necessary to travel to a different country, a different culture, to interact and learn from people that come from a different background than your own. There are people all around us that we can learn from, and can learn from us. Many of the greatest achievements in history have been the result of collaboration and utilization of the strengths of a diverse range of various individuals. Free Intelligent Conversation is the active intention to optimistically pursue that which may be unknown to you, so that people have an opportunity to learn about others what they did not know before. It is a social art form inspired to provoke thought and innovation among the minds and hearts of people. Because I have been blessed enough to have a diverse experience that has allowed me to interact and learn from a vast variety of people, I understand and appreciate the benefits, and I encourage all to be proactive and embrace possibility whenever the chance is presented. 

Anna Brown
Chicago, IL


Went to Chi-Town for the FIRST time yesterday with @freeic! Had an amazing time. I will be back! #freeic#breakingsocialbarriers #letstalk Anthony Bolden Chicago, IL

Went to Chi-Town for the FIRST time yesterday with @freeic! Had an amazing time. I will be back! #freeic#breakingsocialbarriers #letstalk

Anthony Bolden
Chicago, IL


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.

Kevin Wilson
Berkeley, CA


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!

‎Abhiram Arunkumar‎
Chicago, IL


One time I was FreeIC-ing at Centennial Olympic park in Atlanta, and met this lady who was a poet, musician, and producer in the city. We ended up talking about sports and music, she even invited me to one of her shows.

2 years later, I was at a listening party for an upcoming release of one of my client’s albums. 

At some point during the event, my client was giving thanks to the people who had helped with the album, and he shouts out the executive producer and the producer’s girlfriend. 

The name of the girlfriend was the same name of the lady I had spoken to 2 years prior while FreeIC-ing. I then thought to myself "What are the chances that this is the same person?"

I didn't even remember what she had looked like, but I went up to her and ask: "Do you remember talking you to a group of people offering 'free Intelligent conversation' a couple years ago?" 

She said "Yes, I vaguely do!"

I said, well "it's me Andre, I'm the person you spoke to."

We then spent the next couple minutes catching up and talking about what were the chances of us meeting—first in the middle of a park while FreeIC-ing and then again at this listening party, especially considering that both places were in such different parts of the city. 

It was great being able to reconnect. 

Shout out to FreeIC for the new friend!

Andre Murray
Atlanta, GA


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”!

Dalton Finney
Chicago, IL
NakedCharisma.com


When i first heard about FreeIC, and how a group of students were heading to Chicago to talk to people, I thought it was a cool idea. But after participating my first time, I recognize that this is more than just holding a sign and talking to strangers, this is an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and it has the potential to form lasting friendships. I’ve had some people express to me that FreeIC seems like a gimmick, they are suspicious of someone holding a sign and think, why would you need to hold a sign to have intelligent conversations. For example, once while I was "FreeICing” at UC Berkeley someone asked, “Why are you doing this? We have intelligent conversations all the time here. This is Berkeley.” But, what I find is that, while holding the sign may be a gimmicky way to get people to come up to you, the conversations I’ve had have been some of the most genuine and sincere. When we say intelligence, we don’t just mean the intellect. We mean all types of intelligence: social, emotional, and spiritual, just to name a few. And it seems, from the conversations I’ve had that people don’t get enough of it. We’re craving to connect in meaningful ways with people. That’s why I love FreeIC, because it motivates me to connect. I sometimes experience loneliness, just like many others, and FreeIC is a way to break that. It has helped me to establish friendships that are still going today. Plus, it’s a great way to meet people when traveling. I aim to take a sign with me everywhere I go, but the truth is, I don’t always need a sign, because FreeIC has become a way of life. It’s simply a reminder to be bold and converse with people. After all, we’re all happier when we connect!

Javier Melendez
Berkely, CA


"FreeIC? That sh💩t is dope. It's a must." 

Matt Little
Chicago, IL


I come from a generation where most people I know rarely communicate without electronic devices demanding their attention. So, the idea of FreeIC was incredibly appealing. It provides the opportunity to meet and engage strangers in conversations of any kind; sharing thoughts and ideas with people from all walks of life was an amazing idea. My FreeIC experience never disappointed! In fact, it always exceeded my expectations. I never thought the experiences of others would impact me so deeply. My FreeIC experiences on the streets of Chicago have been enlightening, and incredibly fun!!! It is definitely a unique venture I recommend and will continue to be a part of!

Angie Powel
Chicago, IL


Free Intelligent Conversation — or FREEIC — is incredible. With a world constantly developing and changing, there are endless simplicities that are lost in this technological and often impersonal age of communication. With what is referred to as "social"-networking, we have accumulated a vast number of ways to stay ANTI-social, to create more barriers, and miss out on genuine human interaction. For our generation, having something that doesn't cost money, that only requires time and emotional effort, is truly life changing. For me, a young man of only 20, I have had conversations with human beings that perhaps I never would have, simply by holding a sign. FREEIC is an opportunity to see what the world looks like outside of your self, and to connect to anyone that is willing — anywhere, anytime. Everyone should try it, and hopefully (I would argue inevitably) carry the idea along with them.  
Cavan Miller
Chicago, IL


In the crazy, interconnected world we live in, humans often mistake the frequency of interactions for the quality of interactions. FreeIC aims to shift the focus of conversations and communication away from fake "connection" to genuine contact with other people.

Talking to strangers on the streets of Chicago was extremely nerve racking yet an amazing experience. By simply standing with a card board sign and a smile I was able to have conversations with people I would have never had the inclination to talk to in the first place.  

Gaining perspective, insight, and simply hearing a part of someone else's story fostered a continued sense of curiosity, empathy, and thirst for continuing both meaningful conversation and connection with others.

FreeIC was an excellent opportunity to take an afternoon, disconnect from the foolishness we so constantly subscribe to, and just have good conversation with other real humans. Definitely an experience everyone should try at least once.

Amante Gonzalez
Chicago, IL


Participating in FreeIC is one step to curing the lack of empathy that our world suffers from. It takes us to the streets and opens our hearts to an array of values and opinions. It puts a face on differing perspectives and connects us on a human level. FreeIC has reminded me that despite differences in world views, we are still good people, working toward a common goal of being understood.

Simone Weithers
Chicago, IL


My experience with Free IC left me hungering for more meaningful connections in my life. I see it as more of a lifestyle than a movement. After my experience in Chicago, I wanted to continue to carry that sign around with me everywhere I went. 

I love this concept because there is an understanding from both parties that this is an elevated quality of conversation. Even people who opted out of actually engaging with me still smiled as they passed because they appreciated what the sign was a representation of. I think we could all use a little more of that kind of connection everywhere we go. It's a beautiful thing. 

Sarah Stelfox
Chicago, IL