Beyond the Build


One Small Step

Several years ago my daughter, Chappell, and I participated in “Our Story,” sponsored by NPR and StoryCorps. The premise is preserving oral history through storytelling. Two family members can interview one another over a 30-minute conversation that is later catalogued with the Library of Congress for future generations to learn about their family.

The initiative has been around for about 2 decades, but really expanded when they took StoryCorps on the road with an Airstream trailer, which is how Chappell and I did our interview. Just two microphones, comfortable seating, low lighting and a facilitator. We were told to talk about anything we wanted, and found the environment perfect for a good conversation. I hope our time in the Airstream provided a little insight into our family for future generations.

StoryCorps has expanded in last year or so with the “One Small Step” program, which pairs two strangers who have totally different perspectives to visit over 40 minutes with listening ears and respect for one another. The hope is that people will find some common ground to help turn “thems” into “us-es,” understanding that there is good in all views. While I have not yet participated in “One Small Step,” it’s on my bucket list.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.