Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

One Small Step brings Richmonders together — regardless of political differences

Illustration of a microphone surrounded by election form icons.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Just a few weeks ago, around 80% of Democrats and Republicans told pollsters that the other party would "destroy America as we know it" if not stopped.

  • Meanwhile, half or more of people in both parties describe members of the other party as more unintelligent, immoral and dishonest, per an August report from Pew.

One Small Step, a newish project from the StoryCorps podcast people, is trying to change that by bringing together strangers with different political views for a conversation.

Why it matters: "OSS pairs strangers with different beliefs — not to debate politics — but to get to know each other as people. In the process, we hope people can rediscover their shared humanity," said Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps.

  • The series is taping this week in Richmond.

Richmond was selected last year as one of three communities in the country where One Small Step is focusing its work, in part because Richmond is "a place with its own unique history and a legacy of confronting our diverse heritage," Isay wrote in an op-ed last year.

  • Fresno, California, and Wichita, Kansas, are the other two.

After officially launching last year, there are already signs of success among the thousands of conversations that have taken place, including hundreds in Richmond.

In one local conversation, two men with differences in race, age, political views, socioeconomics and even preferences on suburban vs. urban living met in 2020 for a 50-minute chat.

"The outcome that we see from literally every interview is the people become friends," Isay told the Times-Dispatch this summer.

  • There are now over 7,000 people on the waitlist for their own conversation.

Conversations taping this week are from people on the waitlist, but you can sign up here to participate.

  • All conversations are archived in the Library of Congress.

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