WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sometimes one conversation can change a lifetime of thought. That idea has inspired new forms of American storytelling and a new initiative called One Small Step.
One Small Step invites people with different views to take part in facilitated and recorded conversations to counteract growing hostility and enable those who disagree to listen to each other with respect. One Small Step was created by the nonprofit organization StoryCorps, whose mission is to “record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs,” founded by radio producer David Isay in 2003.
StoryCorps is often described as compelling human stories that reflect a range of American experiences and values which tend to provoke empathy and connection among those interviewed and those listening, reminding us that we have more in common than what divides us.
The year 2020 has been tumultuous at best, with many across the nation finding themselves on divided lines when it comes to pandemics, social distancing, racism, and police brutality. That is one of the many reasons why the StoryCorps founder believes now is the time for conversation and understanding.
“The pandemic has only exacerbated the divides in the United States,” said Dave Isay. “At a moment of distancing, One Small Step gives us a rare chance to get proximate with people we may disagree with, and in doing so, be reminded of our shared humanity.”
Wichita is one of six locations across the country selected to participate in StoryCorps’ nationwide One Small Step initiative to facilitate and broadcast conversations with Americans of opposing viewpoints. With participant permission, these conversations will be preserved for future generations at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
KMUW will use StoryCorps’ remote recording platform, which pairs two people for a conversation over video and hosted by a trained Facilitator. The NPR affiliate encourages all residents of south-central Kansas who would like to take part go to kmuw.net/shorturl/oss. KMUW will also broadcast edited versions of select submissions from its local communities on 89.1 FM.
“We’ve had plenty of discussions with the public through Democracy on Tap and our news coverage, and One Small Step opens the door to something more,” KMUW General Manager, Debra Fraser said in a press release. “This is a chance to help us find common ground in a world that seems to be pulling in the other direction. I hope this project helps people see through the politics with stories that show our humanity, flaws and all.”
You can submit stories to StoryCorps anytime, even at home, by going to StoryCorps Connect or downloading the StoryCorps App (iOS|Android). Both provide easy-to-use tools to help prepare interview questions, create high-quality conversations on mobile devices, and upload audio to archive.storycorps.org. Learn more at storycorps.org or KMUW.
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