Take One Small Step, Vermont, With VPR And StoryCorps
While Americans face challenges unlike any other time in our history, VPR and StoryCorps invite you to take part in One Small Step, a nationwide initiative to help bridge political divides and strengthen communities, one conversation at a time.
In collaboration with StoryCorps and other community organizations throughout Vermont, we invite you to meet someone new — a fellow resident with different views from you, who you might never talk to otherwise — for a simple, personal, 50-minute conversation.
No matter their political leanings, a majority of Americans agree that divisiveness is a major problem impacting our ability to deal with the pandemic and serious challenges facing our country. There is hope: a majority of Americans also say they are optimistic that our country can overcome political divisiveness in the years ahead. At a moment like this, aren’t we called to try to find a better way forward — together?
VPR is one of just six stations selected nationally to host One Small Step in 2021. With participant permission, these conversations will be preserved for future generations at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Tested and safe, One Small Step conversations are:
- Hosted virtually by a trained facilitator (there may be in-person opportunities soon as well)
- Seamless, powerful, and respectful
- Archived as part of American history at the Library of Congress, if you choose.
- Never shared without your permission
Do you believe we have more in common than what divides us? Have a conversation, and see for yourself.
One Small Step conversations are not to debate or convince. They’re simply a chance to break the ice: to talk about who we are as people, what we care about, and our dreams for the future. Ask and answer questions like:
- “Who has been the most influential person in your life? What did they teach you?”
- “Is there someone you disagree with but still love or respect?”
- “What are your fears or concerns about the future of our country?”
One Small Step helps us move beyond labels like "Democrat" and "Republican" and into the life experiences that shaped how each of us sees our world.
We’re teaming up with civic organizations, churches, and other community groups and leaders to spread the word and connect Vermonters from all backgrounds who are ready to take One Small Step. Do you want to get your group or organization involved in the effort? Get in touch for more details.
How One Small Step Works
Matching Partners & Preparing:
- For people interested in getting matched for a conversation, the first step is to fill out the One Small Step Questionnaire.
- Your responses will help us find the best conversation partner for you. Remember: people are complex - and rarely, if ever, “exact opposites.” We’ll read your answers carefully to pair you with someone with a perspective different from your own. Fruitful matching takes time, so we thank you in advance for your patience.
- If we find a match for you, we’ll reach out to hear more about your goals. When we schedule the One Small Step conversation, we'll share materials to help you prepare.
- The One Small Step conversation takes place virtually. Requirements for participants: reliable internet connection, and a computer with a video camera and a microphone.
- A day or two before the recording appointment, the facilitator will do a short “tech check” with you to make sure the StoryCorps virtual recording platform works on your device.
The One Small Step Experience:
- At your One Small Step appointment, you meet your conversation partner, and a facilitator provides an orientation, ground rules, and suggested questions.
- When ready, the facilitator starts the recording and helps you begin the conversation by prompting 4 kick-off questions. After that, participants drive the conversation by choosing more questions and listening with an open mind.
- The conversation lasts about 50 minutes, and the whole process takes 75-90 minutes (including time for addressing tech issues, the orientation, and a post-conversation debrief and paperwork).
Participant Agency and Privacy:
- Your comfort level and consent in this process is our first priority.
- You drive the conversation. You choose what questions to discuss, and you can decide to conclude the conversation at any time. The facilitator’s chief role is to ensure you and your partner both feel comfortable, respected and in control during the discussion. They may suggest follow-up questions, but all questions are optional.
- After the recording ends: you decide whether you want to share it with our station, StoryCorps and the Library of Congress. There is no obligation to share. You can keep the conversation private if you wish. You can also share the conversation, but keep your name/identity anonymous.
- Regardless of your decision, you and your conversation partner receive a digital copy of the recording.
- The recording can be preserved in the StoryCorps collection at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. - if both participants agree to share it.
How VPR Works with These Recordings:
- A few conversations, with participants’ permission, will be edited for brevity and broadcast on the radio.
- If your conversation is selected for editing/broadcast by the station, we will notify you, and preview the edited clip for you to ensure you’re comfortable with it before it’s broadcast.
If I sign up, am I guaranteed to participate?
Unfortunately with limited capacity, VPR can’t guarantee a conversation for every person who applies. Matching and recordings will continue through December 2021, however, so you may hear from us any time throughout the year. Thank you for your patience!
If you’re not matched locally this year, you’ll still be eligible to participate through StoryCorps’ national program next year. StoryCorps receives all applications and will continue matching participants across all parts of the country in 2022. Visit www.storycorps.org/onesmallstep to learn more about StoryCorps’ One Small Step programs.
Should I try to find my own partner for a One Small Step conversation? What if I already have a partner in mind?
The program is designed to help you meet with someone new and different, and we take care of matching you with a partner. However, if you already have a specific partner in mind, that works too. You can let us know when you fill out page 1 of the One Small Step Questionnaire.
How should I prepare for a One Small Step conversation?
The single most important thing is to come with an open mind, curiosity, and a genuine desire to listen to and connect with someone new. It also helps to reflect on what your goals for the experience are.
We provide suggested questions, and you’re welcome to bring your own. Spend some time beforehand thinking about which questions you want to explore (as well as anything you’d prefer to keep off-limits). You may find it helpful to think about some of your own answers, and reflect on any particular stories and experiences from your life that might help illustrate them. But ultimately, there’s no need to over-prepare. These conversations are meant to be unscripted. You are not expected to have all the answers, or to be a “spokesperson” for any particular point of view. Simply come ready to be yourself.
What does it mean to “give permission” to share my recorded conversation?
After you finish the conversation, the Facilitator will talk with you about whether you’d like to allow the station and StoryCorps to have a copy of the recording. You grant permission by signing a Release Form ( we provide a copy in advance of your appointment to review). Signing a Release Form allows StoryCorps to archive the recording with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as add your conversation to their Online Archive Collection. It also allows the station to receive a copy of the recording and potentially publish/broadcast a portion of it. If you (or your conversation partner) decide not to sign the release form, the recording will not be archived or broadcast. StoryCorps will not keep a copy, and the station will not receive a copy. Regardless of your decision, you and your conversation partner will both receive the audio of the conversation to share with family and friends.
When and how do I get a copy of my recording?
It takes about 4-6 weeks to process StoryCorps recordings. Once your recording is processed, you’ll receive an email from StoryCorps with a link to a digital copy of it.
Does it cost anything to participate?
No, participation is free of charge.
StoryCorps’ One Small Step is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Since 2003, the non-profit public service organization StoryCorps has perfected a method for helping people feel more connected and less alone, for increasing hope and reminding us of the inherent worth of every life and every story. More than half a million Americans have participated in StoryCorps interviews to date, making it the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered. Interview recordings are preserved for history at the American Folklife Center at the U.S. Library of Congress.