Birmingham, In the Before Times

On stage with StoryCorps founder Dave Isay at the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham

We’ve finally put out the hour-long radio special on bridging social divides that I hosted earlier this year. It’s an adapted version of a live stage production that NPR, StoryCorps and WBHM put on in Birmingham, Alabama in the Before Times.

That trip to Birmingham was one of my last trips out of town, though none of us knew it at the time. The interviews, with everyday folks from various walks of life, and researchers and neuroscientists, taught me a lot about contact theory and the psychological and sociological importance of coming into contact with those who you consider quite different from you. It also taught me about cycles of “high conflict” and the only way to step back from the brink — embracing complexity. The interview with journalist Amanda Ripley, in this special, is most illuminating and I’m privileged and proud to have been a part of it.

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