Meet The Green Lake Man Who Holds The “I Desire A Conversation” Sign

January 22, 2019 2:16pm

If you’ve walked the north side of the Green Lake loop anytime in the past few months, chances are you’ve seen him. He’s a young man with a friendly face holding a giant white board that says “I desire a conversation. I invite you to talk to me.” I’ve been curious about him for quite some time but just recently stopped to find out more.

Seattle Greenlaker: How long have you been doing this?
Conversationalist: For multiple months now, I’ve been holding a sign at Green Lake. I usually try to go there when it’s not raining so usually about 3 to 5 days a week. Depending on things, I may spend 1 to 5 hours there with the sign. I’ve been practicing with different signs for over 2 and a half years now.  Previously, my sign of choice was “Free Compliments,” where I would give out compliments to people in public places, such as Green Lake, downtown Seattle, and other parts of the greater Seattle area. Communicating through written signs is a practice I have come to enjoy, but I have been practicing ways to engage people for many years, such as through playing music in public, or sporting activities, social experiments, etc.

Seattle Greenlaker: Why did you start doing this?
Conversationalist: My most recent reason for coming down to Green Lake to have conversations is because I struggle with depression.  I find that one of the most healing things for my depression is to talk to people. It’s also a mission of mine right now to meet a new person every day, excluding meeting that person on the Internet. I’ve had a lot of success having conversations and meeting new people so it has inspired me to keep returning. There will be some days where I have over 10 people stop or even groups of people form, where strangers are talking to strangers. I’ve had instances where I have talked to a person very deeply on a very connecting level for over an hour or hours at a time.  

Seattle Greenlaker: What do most people want to talk to you about?
Conversationalist: A lot of people will ask me what I’m doing or if I’m writing a book or doing some kind of social experiment. Many will also ask me what I want to talk about. Some will share with me, while others appear to just want to listen to me share. Some people have even opened up, showing their vulnerable selves. I also had a moment where I sang the Pokemon Theme Song with a younger person. There are a number of occasions where the conversation will get deep into life matters, or God, or Science, etc. Some people want to give me hugs.

Seattle Greenlaker: What has been the most interesting conversation you have had and why?
Conversationalist: There was a woman on rollerblades a while back who stopped and talked to me. It was her birthday. We easily talked for a couple of hours. I felt so connected in that conversation. It had depth and was very meaningful to me. I’ve had so many conversations with people at Green Lake, most of them are meaningful. 

Seattle Greenlaker: Do you plan to do this for a long time?
Conversationalist: I don’t know. I find that talking to people is very healing in my life so I imagine that I will continue doing this for some amount of time.

Seattle Greenlaker: Why Green Lake?
Conversationalist: I live nearby, down Aurora. Green Lake has a lot of foot traffic, along with a lot of squirrels. (Lol)

Seattle Greenlaker: Has there been anything about doing this that has surprised you?
Conversationalist:  I’m not sure if I am surprised, if that is the word I would use, but I have made some observations. If a person verbally gives me a reason as to why they won’t talk to me, the number one reason people give at Green Lake is that they don’t have time. I find that reason intriguing in it’s volume, partly because I feel like it has made me think about how to spend time. So often so many of us, including myself, don’t plan enough for the unplanned to happen. Since I have been doing conversations at Green Lake, I’ve had some of the most spontaneously, wonderful connections with people.

What also has been wonderful, is the sheer volume of people I speak with day to day.  I have never had a day, when no one has stopped to talk. I’ve even had people who have told me that they wanted to talk to me on previous occasions at the lake, but I was always talking to someone else. Also, the past story that I have created, that it’s hard to meet people in Seattle is just a story. Through doing conversations at Green Lake I have met so many wonderful people. Since I’ve been doing it now for weeks in a row, I sometimes have seen the same people many times over. In a strange way, Green Lake to me is starting to feel like a small town. I’ve been getting to know the regulars at the lake.  Also, the pool of people that have approached me has included people from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, some of which English wasn’t their first language, different ages from people under 18 to elderly people.  The diversity of people is quite amazing.

Seattle Greenlaker: Anything else you’d like to share with the Greenlaker community?
Conversationalist: Doing conversations at Green Lake has transformed my life and has really helped with my depression. I have met some of the most amazing people in the world there.  I think this practice has also taught me that there are a lot of people in Seattle that want to talk and meet people and share with one another.  

Seattle Greenlaker: What is your name?
Conversationalist: I feel if people want to know my name, they can come meet me at Green Lake and have a conversation.  I think I would like that.