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Growing One Small Step — When It’s Needed Most

“Recent polls demonstrate what most of us have already experienced first-hand: that there is a pervasive culture of contempt that threatens the very foundations of our democracy,” said Dave Isay, StoryCorps Founder and President.

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and in partnership with local public media stations, StoryCorps is expanding One Small Step to six additional communities in 2021. 

The six stations and communities selected are:

We’ll provide training and production assistance to public media stations to facilitate and broadcast conversations with people in America of opposing viewpoints, sitting down to find common ground. 

Watch highlights from 2020 and hear voices from across the country in this short video:

According to a CBS News poll released earlier this year, more than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America’s way of life comes from their fellow citizens. One Small Step aims to remind people of the humanity in all of us and that it’s hard to hate up close. These communities can model this change for the rest of the country.

Two members of each participating station will take part in a training to facilitate and record conversations between community residents of differing political views, and selected interviews will be shared across each station’s media platforms. 

Stations will also team up with a variety of community organizations to spread the word and collaborate with the StoryCorps team to match participants and record conversations through the end of the year. The project will include a series of public listening events that will be streamed online in the fall of 2021. 

 

SIGN UP TO TAKE ONE SMALL STEP
We’re matching strangers from different points of view for conversations about who they are. Anyone, anywhere can sign up for our email list and complete our matching questionnaire to have the opportunity to be paired with a stranger for a One Small Step conversation.

Station participation in the One Small Step Communities project is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. StoryCorps’ national One Small Step initiative is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute.

Celebrating the Stories of Chicago

Goodbyes are bittersweet. After more than eight years — and many wonderful interviews — in the region, StoryCorps is closing its operations and recording booth in Chicago in September 2021.

We’re proud to have had a booth and exhibition space at the Chicago Cultural Center and to have partnered with WBEZ 91.5 FM to preserve, share, and broadcast this city’s stories.

We want to especially thank our Chicago-based staff for their thoughtfulness, care, and excellence throughout the years.

Listen to the voices of Chicago

Since we first opened the recording booth, we’ve been bowled over by the heart of our Chicago storytellers. We’ve rounded up a few favorites below, but there are so many more to listen to in the Chicago Collection. 

Gloria Allen and Charlene Carruthers

Charlene and Gloria talk about growing up in Chicago, their sexual orientations and gender identities, and how LGBTQ terminology has changed over the years. Gloria shares stories about being gay and then transitioning, and living an out life in both Chicago and New York.

Alaa Basatneh and Zainab Khan

Zainab interviews Syrian human rights activist Alaa about her experience using social media to aid protesters on the ground in Syria, a passion that resulted in a death threat from the Syrian regime. Alaa’s parents taught her that even though she was living in Chicago, she should never forget the people in Syria.

Yvonne Orr-El and Kimberley Rudd

Yvonne talks to her friend Kimberley about the impact that her revolutionary parents have had on her life. She talks about finding truth under layers of family secrets, what her activism looks like today, and the importance of “thriving instead of just surviving life.”

Nancy Faust Jenkins and Beth Finke

Nancy talks to her friend Beth about her career as an organist for the Chicago White Sox. They talk about how Nancy’s music helped Beth follow baseball games after she lost her sight, and how they met and became friends.

Raymundo Gomez Hernandez and Alexander Ewers

Raymundo talks to his husband Alexander about growing up in Mexico City knowing at an early age that he was gay, even before he knew there was a word for it. He talks about heroes, his experience at a “church camp” (actually conversion therapy) in Mexico, his religious beliefs, and how their first date ended with Alexander uttering, “Bye, I love you,” which they laugh about now.

Vishal Bhuva and Parag Bhuva

Brothers Vishal and Parag talk about their family role models and the cultural principles that influenced their career choices in public service. They discuss the challenges and fulfilling aspects of their work, and how they balance work, family, and personal growth. Vishal reads a poem he wrote after a 30 hour shift at the ER at Cook County Hospital.

Ashley Galvan Ramos and Christian Diaz

Christian interviews his friend Ashley about her activism in the Logan Square community. She also shares her family’s story of displacement, and talks about carrying on with the Chinelos’ traditions.

Wanda Bridgeforth and Beth Finke

Wanda Bridgeforth is interviewed by her friend Beth Finke about growing up in Bronzeville, Chicago, her time at DuSable High School, and her love of writing.

Cindy Alvarado and Astrid Tamer

Cindy and Astrid are friends and fellow advocates at Mujeres Latinas En Acción. They have a conversation about their work as volunteers in the Sexual Assault Program, and they also talk about the friendship they have forged.

Tania Cordova and Emmanuel Garcia

Emmanuel interviews his best friend Tania about the challenges as a Trans Latinx woman. Tania also talks about her new project called “SER el cambio,” a transitional housing center for the Trans community of Chicago.
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"Mauricio was able to teach us to live in the moment... life is a party. Enjoy it."
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Jessica Valdivia and Jorge Valdivia

Jorge Valdivia and his sister Jessica Valdivia honor the memory of their older brother Mauricio Valdivia who died in Chicago of COVID-19. They reminisce about their favorite memories growing up with someone full of life who “went out of their way for their family.” They also discuss their experience with grief and loss during the pandemic. Read the full transcript here.

Our booth in Chicago may be closed, but it’s never been easier to record a StoryCorps interview with the important people in your life. Find out how to record your conversations remotely with Storycorps Connect.

Teacher Appreciation Week #GoogleDoodle Featuring StoryCorps Stories

We are kicking off Teacher Appreciation Week 2021 in partnership with Google to honor educators and highlight the voices of teachers and students.

You can find five StoryCorps stories in an interactive, animated Google Doodle here. These stories feature voices from across the country, and touch on everything from the struggles a young man faced as one of the first Black students to integrate his high school to two teachers reflecting on how COVID-19 has affected their work. The common thread across all of them is the incredible and lasting impact that these educators have had on their students’ lives. 

Listen to all five original stories below.

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"There was nothing more that I wanted to do than to protect you."
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“I didn’t know what a good teacher was until I saw the way you taught.”

In the second of two stories in this audio clip, 19-year-old Jose Catalan, who is studying to become a math teacher, sat down with his former high school teacher Carlos Vizcarra to talk about how they became friends. Read the full transcript here.
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“I think you should get half my diploma.”
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“I think you should get half my diploma.”

Cole Phillips, who had recently become blind, started high school with an adult following him from class to class. Rugenia Keefe, or Miss Ru, was a paraprofessional who assisted Cole with many of his most difficult subjects — and over time became a friend and confidant.  Read the full transcript here.
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“I realized, wow, somebody else has these feelings. This isn’t just me.”
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“You probably had no idea the impact you were making.”

Russ King, a cabaret performer, talks with his elementary school music teacher, Paige Macklin, about a choice she made 50 years ago, and how it changed his life. Read the full transcript here.
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"You have this unique ability to — even in the darkest times — just tell people it's going to be okay."
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“I don’t think, without your energy, I could have made it teaching through this whole pandemic.”

High school English teacher Alexia Dukes speaks with her mentor and colleague, Maria Rivera, about teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full transcript here.

Lessons Learned

From the first roll call of the 1964 school year, Dr. William Lynn Weaver was targeted and harassed by the faculty of his previously all-white high school. Then a former teacher stepped in and saved his life. Read the full transcript here.


#ThankAnEducator this May and June

This Doodle kicks off our #ThankAnEducator effort. This May and June, StoryCorps wants to spark a moment of gratitude for the educators who have been working tirelessly to adapt to our collective new normal while supporting and teaching students of all ages and needs.
It hasn’t been easy, but educators have continued to change millions of lives every day in virtual and in-person classrooms. Honor an educator in your life with a StoryCorps interview and show them just how much they mean to you. You can record a conversation remotely using StoryCorps Connect, or record in person with the free StoryCorps App. Find out more about our Thank an Educator effort here.

To discover more stories featuring teachers and students, explore a collection of interviews from the 2021 State Teachers of the Year. You can also read reflections on recording by Tabatha Rosproy, 2020 National Teacher of the Year, and listen to her conversation with her best friend about one of their favorite teachers here.

Thank you

Thank you to the participants for sharing your stories with us, and thank you to teachers across the country for the tireless work and support over the past year.

Thank you to our partners at Google for celebrating teachers during a time when their work and dedication has never been more important.

StoryCorps is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.