Hi everyone! StoryCorps Founder & President Dave Isay here. We recently hosted a virtual fireside chat about StoryCorps’ One Small Step (OSS) initiative with Dr. Peter T. Coleman, an OSS advisor and professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, where he also directs the University’s Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution. The purpose of the event was to provide updates and talk about our plans for the initiative moving forward.
During our Q&A session, we received many great questions from participants that we didn’t have time to respond to, so I’ve answered some of them below. Thanks to those who submitted questions and for all of your support of OSS—we couldn’t do it without you!
Q: Thank you immensely for what you do. Is there still a chance to participate in OSS?
A: Absolutely! Anyone, anywhere can participate in OSS and be matched with a conversation partner. To apply, visit takeonesmallstep.org.
If you live in one of our Anchor Communities or near a Radio Station Hub, you are more likely to be matched quickly, but there are many ways to participate in OSS, either while you wait to be matched or after your conversation. And later this year, we’ll be launching a new self-facilitated tool, OSS Connect, that will provide a robust set of resources to help you have a safe and meaningful conversation on your own.
Q: I was surprised about how Jerome and Warren became personal friends. Does this friendship happen often with OSS interviews? How do we express our opinions as part of an interview assertively but with an open mind?
A: I’m gratified to say that many participants become friends and I think this is because OSS conversations are based on contact theory, which posits that people who have meaningful interactions with those who hold different beliefs, often find that they have more in common than not.
Importantly, these conversations are not about debating politics, but getting to know each other as people and our skilled facilitators guide the conversations and ensure both sides feel safe throughout the process. Within that space, there is certainly room to express your opinions and an open and curious approach is key. To hear excerpts from different OSS conversations, visit our conversation page.
Q: What cities are you headed to?
A: We will be expanding to a few more communities this summer so stay tuned for more information soon.
Q: Are the OSS conversations also going into the Library of Congress?
A: If you sign our general release form, then your conversation will be housed at our archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Separately, you and your interview partner can also choose your interview settings together and decide whether or not to make your interview public. You can learn more about privacy/visibility settings in the Online Archive Help Center.