AZ Family: Portal in Tempe connects you with people all over the world, and it's free

TEMPE (3TV/CBS 5) -- Downtown Tempe is the newest place to host a Portal.

A what?

"The Portal is physically a gold shipping container equipped with highly immersive audiovisual technology" Julie Kent, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Tempe Authority, explained. “It felt like it really matched what we do here in the City of Tempe -- being an innovative city and ASU being an innovative University.” 

The Portal is a collaboration between Shared_Studios and the Downtown Tempe Authority. The two have been working together, along with several other partners, for over a year to bring the experience to Tempe.

"The color gold is to conjure up the idea of the spread of global currency, and also the color gold represents in some cultures 'The Sacred' and human connection is a sacred experience," Portal curator Brandon Ferderer said.

"When you step inside, you are in a full-body face-to-face conversation with someone in a similar container in [one of] over 13 countries around the world," Ferderer continued.

The idea is to have a conversation with someone you might not otherwise ever get a chance to meet.

"Everyone gets something different out of it," Kent said.

"It's an experience," Brooks Wilson said. "[It] feels like walking into the future, kind of."

"I really enjoyed the experience," Desiree Daniels said. "[It was] nice to get to talk to someone from Honduras." 

The portal can hold up to 10 people at a time.

Guests are encouraged to inspire and explore.

"We had a musician here in Tempe and a woman in Ethiopia who was a singer. The musician came in and played her guitar and they sang and made music together," Ferderer said.

The best part is the experience is free.

The Portal is located at CenterPoint Plaza, 660 S. Mill Ave., Tempe.

You can walk up or register online for a specific time; people are encouraged to come back.

Shared_Studios and the Downtown Tempe Authority are looking for more investors to keep the Portal in downtown Tempe for longer. At this point, it will only be there until  March 31.

"The more people who are able to come in and have a conversation, the bigger impact that it has, the more possibility it has for creating human connection between folks here in the Valley and the rest of the world," said Ferderer.

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