The Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Advice Booth

Last summer I found myself at the legendary Burning Man festival, the eclectic arts experience extraordinaire in...

Last summerI 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.