Hamilton is working with public radio's StoryCorps on a new initiative, One Small Step, to solicit community members in the Mohawk Valley and Hamilton students who hold opposing views to participate in a one-hour, facilitated, recorded conversation to get to know each other a bit as people. The idea is to create opportunities in which people focus on their common humanity, not their political differences.
"We call it 'One Small Step' because it's just one step away from the cliff," StoryCorps founder David Isay told CNN. "But we've got to take that step away from the cliff."
StoryCorps has traveled across the country collecting and archiving the stories of everyday Americans, making it the largest oral history project of its kind. Since its founding in 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived nearly 75,000 facilitated interviews from more than 150,000 participants from across the country.
One Small Step comes to Hamilton as the college continues its Common Ground initiative, whose goal it is for speakers to model the kind of respectful dialogue across political boundaries that should occur not just on college campuses, but in the broader society as well. Hamilton has hosted speakers on both sides of a given issue, each willing to acknowledge strengths in the position of the other speaker. They have included political strategists David Axelrod and Karl Rove and two former national security directors, Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice, among others.
With the permission of participants, One Small Step conversations recorded at Hamilton will be added to the national StoryCorps Archive, which is housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Edited versions may be broadcast on a partner public radio station or possibly selected for national broadcast on NPR.