From public radio station KUER and journalist Andrea Smardon, Next Door Strangers is a 6-episode series about finding connection in a time of division. We don’t know if this is going to work, but we’re hoping you can help. Each episode ends with a challenge where we ask you to think about your part in all of this, and maybe even change things. It might take you out of your comfort zone, but maybe that’s exactly what we need right now.
6. Getting Uncomfortable Together
Picture this: People are gathered around in the living room talking about politics. Or religion. You know, the big stuff that it seems like nobody agrees on. The people in the room don’t agree either, but they aren’t fighting. Believe it or not, this scene is taking place in living rooms across the country.
5. Rebellion on Campus
It’s become an all too familiar story: a conservative firebrand is invited to speak at a college campus known for embracing free speech and contrasting views, a place like UC-Berkeley or NYU. Then, the campus erupts in protests. It some cases, it ends up being more like a fight than an exchange of ideas. Sometimes the protests turn violent or events are canceled altogether. Enter Respect & Rebellion — a new project to help students and the rest of us figure out how to disagree better. They’re testing out their methods on college campuses … and organizers say it starts with relationships.
4: Shadow Work
Common beliefs are what hold many groups together. So it’s no surprise that differing viewpoints within a group often cause fear or threaten the status quo. Episode 4 focuses on Maxine Hanks, a Mormon feminist who was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1993. Years later, she returned to the church that rejected her. Andrea talks with Maxine about what she’s learned about facing our differences, correcting injustices and healing wounds.
3. Impossibly United
There’s a place where we all start to figure out which tribes we belong to. The decisions we make there feel like life or death. And, in a way, it is — those choices really will affect us for years to come, as we continue to decide where we belong and where we don’t. This place is, of course … high school. In this episode, we ask: “Can you unite an entire high school?” Seems impossible, right? But that didn’t stop one group of students.
2: The Strength of Tribes
We’ve covered how tribalism is wreaking havoc in our lives, but tribes are also a source of strength. They’re how humans have organized themselves to survive for thousands of years. We explore the idea that maybe better, stronger tribes are what we really need to repair the social fabric.
1: Tribalism 101: Pick a Side
People on the left and right may disagree on many things, but they generally agree that tribalism is bad for our country. This episode looks at how we are affected by tribalism in our modern lives and whether there is any hope of getting beyond it.
Just listened to episode 3 “Impossibly United” and now I’m impossibly hooked. Hit the subscribe button and I’m looking forward to exploring more Next Door Strangers. Nice podcast!
Andrea Smardon is our own, local Sarah Koenig. I feel the same for Andrea as I do for Doug Fabrizio and Pat Bagley—please don’t move or retire. Your voices help make sense of our little piece of the planet.
I found something I was missing
I’m so glad that I listened to this podcast. It’s so easy to feel isolated or apart in our polarized society today but this helped me feel hope in my ability to connect with the people around me even if we disagree. Such a good listen.