Bringing people together one conversation at a time
Debora Timms | 9/28/2023, 6 p.m.
StoryCorps’ One Small Step, a national effort pairing strangers with opposing political views to get to know each other through conversation, will record conversations at the Library of Virginia Oct. 2-6. The program seeks individuals in the Metro Richmond area who would like to participate in the conversations.
Launched in 2021, One Small Step brings strangers together for a 50-minute conversation about their lives, not a political debate. Each conversation is moderated by a trained facilitator and, if participants agree, their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.
One Small Step is based on contact theory, or the idea that meaningful interactions between people with opposing views can promote tolerance and acceptance and reduce political polarization. To date, more than 4,100 people in 40 states across the country have participated. Recent research suggests that those who have taken part in a One Small Step conversation may feel more empathetic toward those on the other side of the partisan divide and that even just awareness of the program may make people more hopeful that civil communication is possible.
“In the coming years, our hope is that One Small Step will convince each of us to listen to people with whom we disagree and to have the courage to see the humanity in others,” says Dave Isay, StoryCorps’ founder and president.
Currently, Richmond is one of three One Small Step Anchor Communities along with Fresno, Calif., and Wichita, Kan. Richmond area individuals interested in applying to be matched for a conversation at the Library of Virginia may sign up at