There’s a new, yet familiar face on the One Small Step Richmond team. Really familiar. In fact, you might say that Frazier Armstrong is akin to Richmond’s Kevin Bacon: if you don’t know her, chances are you know people who do. All of which make Frazier the perfect addition to the local team, especially in her role as a Community Chair or “dot connector,” relationship-maker, or—as she likes to call herself —“curator.” Frazier, a Richmond transplant since 1979 from Southside Virginia, has been on the front lines of community initiatives for most of her professional life. A former journalist, who spent eight years at The Richmond Times-Dispatch, she likes to think of herself as a strategist, helping breathe life into new ideas, while connecting just the right people to make those ideas happen. If she had a superpower, she muses, it would be to cut through chaos to get to impactful, clear outcomes. And all of that starts with engendering trust.
Let’s meet Frazier Armstrong…
As you work to help raise the community’s awareness of One Small Step, what’s on your plate?
Frazier: One of the current areas of opportunity that we’re really excited about is our partnership with the Library of Virginia. The public can sign up for an in-person, moderated conversation at the library between October 2-6 and it’s a perfect way for the library to celebrate their 200th [anniversary].
We’re also looking at convening locals in a format we’re calling “Dining Over Differences,” which organizes discussions around meals with folks sitting around the table. The first one went quite well, so we’re looking to do more of those kinds of events. We’ve got some strong advocates in some of the law firms in town where we’ve done presentations. And every time you do a presentation, it opens another door, so there’s momentum building. We’re even starting to ask what comes after One Small Step, what Chris Norris on the team calls the “small steps that follow.” We’re interested in identifying more community events and forums that might make sense for us to participate in.
Why have you decided to get involved in One Small Step in this capacity?
Frazier: I think the whole idea of One Small Step, of literally looking somebody in the face who has different political beliefs, offers a tremendous window of humanity. It’s an opportunity to relate to each other with our best selves and to look intentionally for things that we have in common, rather than those things that divide us. I do believe that it takes “one small step.” I mean, it is aptly named. And I’ve seen it make a difference. I’ve done it myself and clearly, I’m a believer. I would not have jumped into this without feeling pretty passionate about the program and its potential to bring people together.
I worry about what’s happening in communities where there is no local paper or media outlet that connects people in ways that help them understand that there are other things in life that matter. You can be a conservative or a liberal, but people still get married, have babies, and serve on school boards. These are the threads that tie us together. I think what happens sometimes is we get inundated by big news megaphones—this is happening over here and this is happening over there—so we only hear these big issues that are divisive, and we just retreat to corners, and we get angrier. We become more sure that we’re right and they’re wrong.
Participating in OSS has an almost immediate impact. And it spreads fast. I’ve talked to people who come out of these conversations going, “Oh, my gosh, everybody should do this.” And everybody should. You can create that drumbeat and help people understand that they can look at each other and have a civil conversation about things that matter to them as humans.
Welcome to the team, Frazier!
Want to connect? Send her an email at [email protected].