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Vermont's One Small Step: Bethany & Alex

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One Small Step conversation partners Bethany and Alex during their virtual conversation.

This One Small Step conversation features two students from the University of Vermont. When Alex and Bethany came together for a One Small Step conversation, they considered themselves very different from one another politically.

Bethany: My name is Bethany. I'm 23. I'm in Essex, Vermont.

Alex:  I'm Alex Amsden. I'm 19 years old. I'm currently in Burlington, Vermont, at the University of Vermont.

I would describe my personal political values as conservative. I don't really consider myself a Republican or align myself with the Republican Party as much.

Bethany:  Sometimes I feel that way about being a Democrat, sometimes I do feel more progressive. And sometimes I get mad at the Democratic Party, or I'll be like, why are we doing this? And when it comes down to it, I usually vote Democrat.

Alex:  When I came to UVM, last year, I had never identified myself openly as a conservative before. I just so happened to pick one of the most left leaning schools in the United States of America. When I walk around UVM, there is kind of this like, aggressive nature towards conservative people. Like that was one of the reasons why I wanted to sign up for this conversation is because I knew that it was just going to be a conversation. Not a Candace Owens, Ben Shapiro debate-like, smackdown.

Bethany:  I would have one-hundred percent thought I would be paired with an old white man from Fairfax. I'm not gonna lie to you. And I bond with old men very well. So I was ready. And then they said, it's this young woman from your college. So I got scared. I'm gonna hear from a peer who has totally different beliefs than me and is going to make me feel like I am crazy or like that my beliefs are wrong, but you did not do that. So I really appreciate that.

Alex:   I never really heard the term progressive other than in relation to Bernie Sanders before moving to Vermont. When I think of progressivism, I kind of think of Bernie Sanders, climate change and Medicare for all. So what does it mean to you?

Bethany:  Climate change is a big thing. I am very scared of climate change and how it's affecting us. I can't think about it too much because it brings me such fear. And then I get angry because I'm like, Okay, we're not living the way we need to be living so that the planet can survive.

Alex:  I do believe that it is real. I just I don't believe in the term that's been coined as the climate alarmism. I believe that we take it one step every day and we try to make less pollution and we try to live more sustainably. But I don't have the same worries or fear that you have.

Bethany:  I want the planet to be here, and humans to live on the planet in 100 years, 200 years. And I just want sometimes to see more justice. Sometimes I even hesitate to align myself on the political spectrum.

Alex:  If you bring respect to the table a conversation can be had.

Bethany:  At the end of the day, we're all people who want what's best for the world,e ven if we disagree on what that is.

StoryCorps’ One Small Step is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

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Betty was and still is VPR's first full time employee, hired in 1976 to handle a variety of administrative aspects. Once the station began broadcasting in 1977, she also served as an on-air host.
Karen is VPR's traffic specialist and producer. She produced Sunday Bach, a program featuring the sacred Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, during its 8-year run on Vermont Public Radio. Karen has worked for public radio since 2000, in areas of production, traffic, operations, programming and news. She produces the VPR Choral Hour, with host Linda Radtke, and is connecting Vermonters one conversation at a time with StoryCorps One Small Step.