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Take One Small Step, Grand Rapids
with WGVU and StoryCorps

Created by StoryCorps, One Small Step is an effort to remind the country of the humanity in all of us, even those with whom we disagree. The initiative brings strangers with different political beliefs together for a conversation—not to debate politics—but to get to know each other as people. WGVU and StoryCorps invite you to take part in One Small Step, an effort to bring communities together, one conversation at a time.

In collaboration with StoryCorps and other community organizations throughout West Michigan, we invite you to meet someone new—a fellow resident with different political beliefs from you, who you might never talk to otherwise—for a meaningful 50-minute conversation.

One Small Step is based on contact theory, which states that a meaningful interaction between people with opposing views can help turn “thems” into “us-es.” Its scientific and systematic approach is supported by a group of advisors that include scientists, researchers, and psychologists. Since its launch in 2021, nearly 5,000 people across 40 states have participated in a One Small Step conversation.

WGVU is one of just seven stations selected nationally to host One Small Step in 2024.With participant permission, these conversations will be preserved for future generations at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

We’re teaming up with civic organizations, churches, and other community groups and leaders to spread the word and connect West Michigan residents from all backgrounds who are ready to take One Small Step.  Do you want to get your group or organization involved in the effort? Contact Phil Lane at or (616) 331-6791 for more details.

We’ll be matching participants and hosting recorded conversations throughout 2024. 


One Small Step | About the Initiative

How it Works

Matching Partners and Preparing

  • ​For people interested in getting matched for a conversation, the first step is to fill out the One Small Step Questionnaire.
  • Your responses will help us find the best conversation partner for you. Remember: People are complex and rarely, if ever, “exact opposites.” We’ll read your answers carefully to pair you with someone with a perspective different from your own. Thoughtful matching takes time, so thank you in advance for your patience.
  • If we find a match for you, we’ll reach out to hear more about your goals. When we schedule the One Small Step conversation, we share materials to help you prepare.
  • The One Small Step conversation takes place virtually or in person (subjected to local/national government regulations and public health guidelines). 
  • Requirements for virtual participants: reliable internet connection and a computer with a video camera and a microphone.
  • A day or two before the virtual recording appointment, the facilitator will do a short “tech check” with you to make sure the StoryCorps virtual recording platform works on your device. If the recording appointment is in person, the facilitator will contact you to confirm appointment details, recording location, and masking guidelines if applicable.

One Small Step Experience

  • At your One Small Step appointment, you meet your conversation partner, and a facilitator provides an orientation, ground rules, and suggested questions. 
  • When ready, the facilitator starts the recording and helps you begin the conversation by prompting four kick-off questions. After that, participants drive the conversation by choosing more questions and listening with an open mind. 
  • The conversation lasts about 50 minutes, and the whole process takes 75-90 minutes (including time for addressing tech issues, the orientation, and a post-conversation debrief and paperwork). 

Participant Agency and Privacy

  • Your comfort level and consent in this process is our first priority. 
  • You drive the conversation. You choose what questions to discuss, and you can decide to conclude the conversation at any time. The facilitator’s chief role is to ensure you and your partner both feel comfortable, respected and in control during the discussion. They may suggest follow-up questions, but all questions are optional.  
  • After the recording ends: you decide whether you want to share it with our station, StoryCorps and the Library of Congress. There is no obligation to share. You can keep the conversation private if you wish. You can also share the conversation, but keep your name/identity anonymous. 
  • Regardless of your decision, you and your conversation partner receive a digital copy of the recording.
  • The recording can be preserved in the StoryCorps collection at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.—only if both participants agree to share it.

How WGVU Works with these Recordings

  • A few conversations, with participants’ permission, will be edited for brevity and broadcast on the radio. 
  • If your conversation is selected for editing/broadcast by the station, we will notify you, and preview the edited clip for you to ensure you’re comfortable with it before it’s broadcast. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If I sign up, am I guaranteed to participate?
Unfortunately with limited capacity, WGVU can’t guarantee a conversation for every person who applies. Matching and recordings will continue through December 2024, however, so you may hear from us any time throughout the year. Thank you for your patience!

If you’re not matched locally this year, you’ll still be eligible to participate through StoryCorps’ national program next year. StoryCorps receives all applications and will continue matching participants across all parts of the country in 2025. Visit to learn more about StoryCorps’ One Small Step programs. 

Should I try to find my own partner for a One Small Step conversation? What if I already have a partner in mind?
The program is designed to help you meet with someone new and different, and we take care of matching you with a partner. However, if you already have a specific partner in mind, that works too. You can let us know when you fill out page 1 of the One Small Step Questionnaire. 

How should I prepare for a One Small Step conversation? 
The single most important thing is to come with an open mind, curiosity, and a genuine desire to listen to and connect with someone new.  It also helps to reflect on what your goals for the experience are. We provide suggested questions, and you’re welcome to bring your own. Spend some time beforehand thinking about which questions you want to explore (as well as anything you’d prefer to keep off-limits). You may find it helpful to think about some of your own answers, and reflect on any particular stories and experiences from your life that might help illustrate them. But ultimately, there’s no need to over-prepare. These conversations are meant to be unscripted. You are not expected to have all the answers, or to be a “spokesperson” for any particular point of view. Simply come ready to be yourself.

What does it mean to “give permission” to share my recorded conversation?
After you finish the conversation, the Facilitator will talk with you about whether you’d like to allow the station and StoryCorps to have a copy of the recording. You grant permission by signing a Release Form (we provide a copy in advance of your appointment to review). Signing a Release Form allows StoryCorps to archive the recording with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as add your conversation to their Online Archive Collection. It also allows the station to receive a copy of the recording and potentially publish/broadcast a portion of it.  If you (or your conversation partner) decide not to sign the release form, the recording will not be archived or broadcast. StoryCorps will not keep a copy, and the station will not receive a copy. Regardless of your decision, you and your conversation partner will both receive the audio of the conversation to share with family and friends.

When and how do I get a copy of my recording? 
It takes about 4-6 weeks to process StoryCorps recordings. Once your recording is processed, you’ll receive an email from StoryCorps with a link to a digital copy of it.  

Does it cost anything to participate?
No, participation is free of charge.

About StoryCorps

Founded in 2003, StoryCorps has given over 660,000 people, in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The award-winning 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, engender empathy and connection, and remind us how much more we have in common than what divides us. StoryCorps is especially committed to capturing and amplifying voices least heard in the media. The StoryCorps MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer that has been transformed into a traveling recording booth, crisscrosses the country year-round gathering the stories of people nationwide. 2023 marked StoryCorps’ 20th anniversary. Learn more at

StoryCorps’ One Small Step and the Radio Station Hubs are made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

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