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Oklahomans Take One Small Step Forward, Together

Illustration by Blake Behrens

Meeting a stranger can be difficult for some people. Meeting a stranger with opposing beliefs can be even more difficult. But this year, Oklahomans have signed up to do it — to talk to someone they know ahead of time thinks differently than they do. The goal for One Small Step conversations is to get to know one another - learn about the stories and people that influenced them and their beliefs, in an effort to try to understand someone you might not have a chance to meet otherwise.

Take a listen to what we've heard people say on why they wanted to do this, what lessons they've learned from people in their lives, and what they hope for in their future discussions about politics.

One Small Step highlight reel
Hear highlights of some of the conversations we've been having.

Take a look at this video that shows the cohort of stations KOSU has been a part of this year and what this project has sounded like across the country.

One Small Step 2021

So far, KOSU has been able to host 20 One Small Step Conversations. KOSU facilitators Kateleigh Mills and Matthew Viriyapah have paired nearly 40 Oklahomans with differing viewpoints for a personal, 50-minute conversation.

"Participants are tired of division and are tired of the lack of compromise in our political system."
Kateleigh Mills, KOSU Special Projects Reporter

"My observations from a facilitator's standpoint is that people want to work together," Mills said. "We've been told by several participants how happy they've been to participate in a project like this, that they've felt they did something meaningful towards healing the divisions within our society — even if it is just a small step."

The multi-voice piece we created aimed to show that people joined this project with similar intentions. In a One Small Step conversation, after short introductions, participants ask each other four kick-off questions. The first is: What made you want to do the conversation today?

The second question is a chance for each participant to read out-loud, exactly as written, the bios people submit when they sign up to participate. After reading the other person's bio, which typically is in first-person, participants then ask follow-ups that pique their curiosity.

The third question is: Who has been the most influential person or persons in your life, and what did they teach you?

The third question allows each participant to get to know some of the values of the person sitting across from them. Were they influenced to be an independent person? Did someone in their life influence their career path?

The fourth question is: Could you briefly describe, in your own words, your personal political values?

The fourth question helps the participants ease into a political discussion — if they haven't yet done so. Some participants jump right into politics, while others want to share personal stories first.

Below are the seven people featured in the above multi-voice story.

You can sign-up to participate in a One Small Step conversationhere.

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

Kateleigh Mills was the Special Projects reporter for KOSU from 2019 to 2024.
Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the music podcast Songwriters & Tour Riders.
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