For the past several years, research done for StoryCorps found that one in three people ended a relationship with someone close to them over political disagreements. Veteran polster Joel Benenson led the study and his firm, Benenson Strategy Group (BSG), has continued to conduct regular market research to measure awareness of One Small Step in our Anchor Communities (Fresno, CA; Richmond, VA; and Wichita, KS) and to evaluate the impact of our work.
“We’ve designed our research to uncover, as much as possible, the roots of the discord among neighbors and fellow citizens and to create bridges across those divides between the people with whom we share our communities,” Benenson said in a recent conversation. Most recently, BSG conducted our annual polling survey which was sent to a random sample of Wichita-area residents. The findings were encouraging:
· 1 in 5 Wichita residents are now familiar with the OSS program—a significant level of awareness after two years of work in the Anchor Community.
· Digital ads have been the most effective in building awareness, and
· Wichitans have become increasingly receptive to the concept behind the program over time.
Most importantly, Wichitans who are aware of OSS–those who have seen our campaigns and messages or who have participated–are reporting significant differences in their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, that those who are not aware. Those who have touched the initiative are:
· More likely to feel positively towards those with whom they disagree,
· More likely to think that civil cross-partisan conversation is possible,
· More hopeful about the future, and
· They report less division locally and nationally compared to those who are unaware.
“Collaborating with StoryCorps on OSS is both a challenging and exciting opportunity for us to help effect and eventually overcome the culture of contempt that unfortunately permeates cities and towns across America,” Benenson said. “What we’ve seen while working with the entire team is that this is an effort driven by a passionate belief that the way to bridge the divide lies with each of us, and all it takes is One Small Step.”
Beneson’s research has been invaluable as StoryCorps further deepens engagement with our Anchor Communities and new audiences. Stay tuned for more learnings from Benenson’s research and how we’re applying them to our work.
If you have not yet applied to be matched for a conversation, we encourage you to do so today.