Look what my visiting Daughter-in-Law Amy and I discovered in the subway tunnel last night on the long walk from the 1 train at 14th street to the downtown F train. Someone had set up a table with markers and pads of small colored post-it notes for commuters who cared to stop a moment to share a thought or two. By 5:30 PM the walls were covered from top to bottom with hundreds of colorful notes (the ones I read were all positive and inspirational)! As we passed there were still crowds of people busily writing their messages at what may be the busiest time of a commuters day!
My first thought was to wonder what kind of world this would be if, instead of threatening to build walls President Trump asked people to stop a moment and post messages of hope and inspiration on existing walls and signposts everywhere!
Intrigued by “my” amazing discovery I did some research. Below is the story of how “Subway therapy” was born
“About a year ago (2015), I sat with a book people could write their secrets in, and I had a little sign that said Secret Keeper. More often than not, people would just talk to me instead of writing something down. People would say “I feel so much better! This is great… like therapy”. I heard it enough that it stuck, and Subway Therapy was born.
Early in 2016 I started wearing a suit, and setting up my “office” in different subway stations in New York. I started going by Levee as a way to step out of my day to day routine, and in a smaller way, to protect myself. Today, I try to go out about once a week as “The Subway Therapist” when work and weather allows, and my temporary office is open for about 4 hours each time. Keep in mind, I am not a licensed therapist, and I have no obligation to keep what I hear confidential. I cannot provide professional advice, but I like to listen and when asked I give personal advice from my experience.
Lately, the project has evolved and I have been using sticky notes to give people an opportunity to transform their stress into something beautiful. Sometimes I write Express Yourself, and other times I ask questions.The first time I used sticky notes was after the election in 2016. With individuals feeling a myriad of ways about the results, I wanted to encourage them to let out what they were keeping inside. All I did was bring sticky notes to my table in the subway and I invited individuals to write something and stick their note up on the wall behind the table for all to see. In the first few days over 10,000 notes were written, and in the coming months an estimated 50,000 spread like rainbow colored ivy at 14th st/6th avenue and Union Square. The initiative in New York spread across the country and countless individuals wrote notes in public places, schools, businesses, and who knows where else. It was encouraging and inspiring to see this simple idea blossom into a symbol of unity and diverse expression.
I wanted to share the inspiration I felt with others, and I decided to write a book about the notes and my experience which you can find here. I can’t express how lucky I feel to be able to do this work and be there for individuals who need or want it. I encourage you to do what you can too. I don’t exactly recommend dressing up like a therapist and setting up shop in your local subway station, but maybe the wild and crazy times we live in require innovative and unconventional problem solvers. I’m happy to assist if you have an idea you need help bringing to life so don’t be shy about getting in touch.
I look forward to our conversation, Levee”
P.S As we passed by the same spot at 9PM a few people were removing the stickers, packing up the markers and post- it notes and “leaving their campsite cleaner than they found it”!!