Updated: Jan. 7 1:26 p.m.
Come February 2019, StoryCorps will return to the Cincinnati area to record conversations that break down political barriers and allow us all to take 'One Small Step' toward realizing others' humanity.
One Small Step, the new project by StoryCorps creator David Isay, comes to Miami University's locations in Middleton and Hamilton in February (though exact locations and details have not yet been announced). Those interested in participating have until Sunday, January 13 to apply.
What Is One Small Step?
Isay came up with the idea after receiving an unexpected letter from a listener.
"The subject line of the email was 'Love the show,' but it was actually very critical," Isay told All Things Considered in 2017. "It says, 'Love the show. I apologize for the deceiving title to this email. Everybody sounds like the biggest bunch of crybabies on this show.' "
Isay's immediate response was to reach out and ask the listener to sit down for a StoryCorps interview, which the person agreed to.
"He hated me. I hated him," Isay said. However, once they sat down to dinner, looked each other in the eyes and began to talk, everything seemed to fall into place. The experience "was almost kind of thrilling," Isay said.
Their conversation got him thinking that more people should take the time to let down their guard and get to know one another.
Thus One Small Step was born. This new initiative will host "civil conversations" between two people from opposing sides of the political spectrum. Strangers, family members, friends and others are invited to "take one step closer to each other's humanity" simply by "getting to know each other as human beings." On their website, StoryCorps says it hopes the project helps to "empower people to have great conversations and listen with compassion, even when we disagree."
How Can I Apply?
Unlike other StoryCorps projects, there will be a facilitator in recording sessions to help guide conversations. Two people will be given 40 minutes to break down barriers between them. Participants should be prepared to ask as well as answer questions posed by others present. This is not a platform to promote a particular political agenda or debate and argue over political issues but talk and actively listen to get to know the other person.
StoryCorps came to the Queen City for four weeks during April and May 2017 to record community stories. Participants asked family members, friends, colleagues, and others who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered, among other questions.
Since its founding in 2003, StoryCorps has worked to capture and amplify voices of everyday people underrepresented in the media. They've given 500,000 people of all backgrounds and beliefs the opportunity to come together, pause and listen to each other's story. StoryCorps has collected, preserved and stored thousands of narratives across America in order to build connections and share moments of humanity between people. These stories represent a vast range of American experiences, knowledge and ideals; provoke empathy; and remind us that we all have more in common than we think.