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VPM Partners with StoryCorps to Foster Conversations Across American Ideological Divides

Man and woman smiling
(Image: Provided by StoryCorps)

In 2020 when Americans face challenges unlike any other time in our history, VPM, in partnership with StoryCorps, the national nonprofit dedicated to recording and preserving personal stories, is teaming up to invite people to take part in meaningful conversations that are recorded for history. With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, VPM is one of six public media organizations across the country selected to take part in StoryCorps’ nationwide One Small Step initiative to facilitate and broadcast conversations with Americans of opposing viewpoints. With participant permission, these conversations are preserved for future generations at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. 

VPM plans to broadcast edited versions of select submissions from its local communities.

“StoryCorps has mastered the art of bringing two people together to share honest insights and heartfelt conversations. VPM is excited to be a part of their latest effort to help people in our community find new ways to connect and better understand each other,” said Steve Humble, Chief Content Officer of VPM.
 
Dave Isay, Founder & President of StoryCorps said: “The pandemic has only exacerbated the divides in the United States. At a moment of distancing, One Small Step gives us a rare chance to get proximate with people we may disagree with, and in doing so be reminded of our shared humanity.”
 
Launched by StoryCorps in 2018 in response to growing division in the country, One Small Step is a nationwide project that provides people who hold different views with the opportunity to take part in facilitated and recorded conversations—specifically to counteract intensifying hostility and to enable those who disagree to listen to each other with respect. Rather than spark additional political debates, One Small Step encourages answers to questions like, “Was there a moment, event, or person in your life that shaped your political views?” and “What scares you most when you think about the future?”
 
VPM encourages residents across its service area to take part in this limited-time opportunity: 

     •    Information about how to participate is at vpm.org/onesmallstep.

    •    In locations where COVID social distancing requirements remain in place, stations will use StoryCorps’ remote recording platform, which pairs two people for a conversation over video, hosted by a trained Facilitator. 

 
StoryCorps and VPM’s partnership is a separately funded component of StoryCorps’ One Small Step project. One Small Step is supported by a broad coalition of government and philanthropic institutions, including the Fetzer Institute, The Wunderkinder Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute. Additional support is provided by the Newman-Tanner Foundation.
 
About VPM
VPM provides the best of public media to Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Through national PBS and NPR programs, local productions and community engagement initiatives and events, VPM uses the power of media to educate, entertain and inspire. Each week, VPM is accessible to nearly 2 million people across the region. VPM broadcasts on television channels VPM PBS, VPM Plus, VPM PBS KIDS, VPM Create and VPM WORLD. VPM also includes VPM News (88.9 FM) and VPM Music (107.3 FM, 93.1 FM and 88.9-HD2) in Richmond, and VPM News & Music in the Northern Neck (89.1 FM) and Southside Virginia (90.1 FM). More information can be found at VPM.org.



About StoryCorps
Founded in 2003 by Dave Isay, StoryCorps has given people of all backgrounds and beliefs, in thousands of towns and cities in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, wisdom and values; engender empathy and connection; and remind us how much more we have in common than what divides us. Learn more at storycorps.org 
  
Recording a StoryCorps interview couldn’t be easier. At one of our locations, you and a loved one, or anyone else you choose, are met by a trained facilitator who explains the interview process. You are then brought into a quiet recording room and seated across from your interview partner, each of you in front of a microphone. The facilitator hits “record,” and you share a 40-minute conversation. At the end of the session, you walk away with a copy of the interview, and a digital file goes to the Library of Congress, where it will be preserved for generations to come.

If you aren't able to get to a recording booth or would prefer to do the interview at home, digital tools like the StoryCorps App or StoryCorps Connect serve as the facilitator, guiding users through the interview experience, from recording to archiving to sharing their stories with the world. It provides easy-to-­use tools to help people prepare interview questions; record high-­quality conversations on their mobile devices; and upload the audio to archive.storycorps.org, which serves as a home for these recordings and also provides interview and editing resources. Learn more at storycorps.org.

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for other updates.