The Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Advice Booth

Posted by Leon Logothetis

Last summer I found myself at the legendary Burning Man festival, the eclectic arts experience extraordinaire in the heart of the Nevada desert. As I was walking around, I came across an interesting site: a large wooden sign with the word "ADVICE" blazoned across it, accompanied by two rickety, wooden chairs. The simplicity of this scene definitely captured my imagination. I decided to sit in one of the chairs and wait.

What happened next was liberating and quite unexpected. During the next hour or so, I found myself in the hot seat, as people kept stopping by to ask for advice. I made it clear I wasn’t qualified in the advice giving business; this didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. I felt privileged listening and realized that just by giving them time to air their thoughts I was being of service. It was not the advice I was imparting, but the moments of connection between two people, which inspired such a warm reaction from both parties.

When I left Burning Man I began to wonder if this desert experiment would work in the real world. How would people react if I set up my own advice booth in one of the most populous and cosmopolitan cities in America, Los Angeles? Would they be fascinated the same way I and the people who asked for my advice were at Burning Man? Or would I be the subject of scorn and derision in a city more used to the shenanigans of young Hollywood starlets? I decided to give it a go and set up shop in five diverse areas of Los Angeles: Beverly Hills, Downtown's Union Station, Hollywood Boulevard, Venice Beach, and the Miracle Mile.

The aim was simple: Sit at my booth and see how people reacted.

We now live in a world where communication is remarkably abundant, but does this influx of new technology allow any of us to truly communicate on deeper, purer levels? By recreating the Burning Man booth I wanted to foster the art of face to face communication and see if the floodgates opened. In my next posts I will share with you what I learned.

This is part one in a three-part series in which Leon Logothetis, a global adventurer and the host of National Geographic's Amazing Adventures Of A Nobody, sits down at a makeshift advice booth in five neighborhoods around Los Angeles. Read part two, in which Leon sets up shop, next week.