Today, we’re announcing an audacious new initiative: One Small Step.
We started work on this project in 2017, when we were calling it a social experiment and asked for volunteers, in an on-air series featured by WNYC’s Indivisible. Last year, a national call out for people to help us with testing on All Things Considered, turned up more than 1,600 responses from people who wanted to be matched to people they did not know to have a facilitated conversation about politics. We knew we were onto something.
We’re issuing a broad call for people to record One Small Step interviews: either in a visit to one of our storybooths or by using our free mobile app.
With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, StoryCorps will also provide training and support to local public radio stations in six cities to hold live listening and public engagement events and produce content from interviews recorded in their communities.
We’ll also be giving people an opportunity to bridge geographical divides using technology. In partnership with local public radio stations, StoryCorps will offer the chance to record One Small Step conversations between individuals in separate studios, in different cities, with remote facilitators, using video conferencing technology powered by Cisco.
“We believe that One Small Step can help pump the brakes on the growing discord tearing at the fabric of our nation,” said StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay. “StoryCorps stokes trust—it brings out our best and highest selves, speaks across divides, and stitches us together.”
Rather than spark additional political debates, through One Small Step we encourage answers to questions like:
- “Was there a moment, event, or person in your life that shaped your political views?”
- “What is most hurtful to you about what people across the political divide say about people on your side and in your life?”
- “Do you believe that there are some threads that bind us all together, even when it seems there is more that divides us? What do you think they are?”
- “Can you think of any traits you admire in people on the other side of the political divide?”
This week and in the months ahead, senators, members of Congress, staffers, political strategists and other personalities from different political perspectives will also be sitting across from each other to record One Small Step interviews.
With One Small Step, StoryCorps seeks to counteract intensifying political divides, deepened daily on social media and elsewhere, by facilitating and recording face-to-face conversations that enable Americans who disagree to listen to each other with respect. One Small Step aims to remind us that we have more in common than divides us and that treating those with whom we disagree with decency and respect is essential to a functioning democracy.
One Small Step is supported by a broad coalition of government and philanthropic support. Major supporters include The Rockefeller Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, The Charles Koch Foundation, and the Righteous Persons Foundation. Additional support provided by Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable.
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Blake Zidell, New York City
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