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Coeur d'Alene group looks for people who want to have difficult conversations

Courtesy of StoryCorps
Coeur d'Alene organizers of the "One Small Step" national project are looking to match people of different backgrounds.

The "One Small Step" initiative has also been instituted in other cities.

A group of Coeur d’Alene residents is trying to repair the area’s ruptured political climate.

Barbara Mueller and her colleagues have created a local version of "One Small Step." That’s a national project created by David Isay, the founder of Story Corps, which brings people into radio studios to record important conversations.

“We see others as the other, rather than as a person. We don’t give them time to be able to be more than what the stereotype is of who they are. What this program hopes to do is to break that down," Mueller said.

Coeur d’Alene’s "One Small Step" is looking for people who want to have deeper talks with people who have different backgrounds or views.

“We reached out to a lot of the large organizations in our community who have a large client base. We’re looking to have those people use their networks and bring in people who have different ideas to be able to be paired together," she said.

"We have a form that people can fill out that gives us an idea of who they are and how they see themselves. But we also ask what life experience has shaped them or who has influenced them and try to be able to identify people who have had different life experiences as well as different points of view politically because I think a point of view c an often be too narrow of a concept," she said.

Mueller and her colleagues will serve as match makers, pairing people for hour-long facilitated chats. She says she and her colleagues have talked with people who have created "One Small Step" projects in their cities. She says they’ve learned that sometimes the matches lead to fruitful discussions.

“They begin to have a dialogue and, at the end, they’re talking about getting together for a beer or getting together to let their families meet or getting together because one feels like the other could be a mentor for them. So they find that bit of information that brings on a longer viewpoint of what their relationship can be," Mueller said.

She says, so far, about 30 Idahoans have submitted questionnaires. The matching, and the conversations, will soon begin.

“Success would be to be able to do a number of conversations before the midterm elections so that we can then go forward and use bits of those conversations to show what we’re trying to say. We are really a country that can overcome its political divisiveness," she said.

If you’re interested in participating, you can fill out a questionnaire at the project website.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.