The Rapidian

Our place, your voices: From there to here...Together

In 2008, while the media was in full-blown crisis mode, we worked with the community to create a different kind of media platform- where all voices are welcomed to the table.

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The Rapidian is your hyperlocal news source powered by citizen journalism. Everything on The Rapidian is about our place- Grand Rapids, Michigan- and written by your voices. Neighbors keeping neighbors informed about local businesses, events, and issues. 

 

As an open and welcoming platform for all voices, the Rapidian is truly powered by the people. Please keep the power going with a donation today. This is our place, and these are your voices.

 

During our Spring Fund Drive, we also have special ways to thank our donors! Along with new ways to show your Rapidian love with pencils, Issue Press notebooks and Citizenshirt bags, we also have great gift certificates donated to the cause from these fine establishments:

/Courtesy of Laurie Cirivello

The Rapidian on its first day live on the internet

The Rapidian on its first day live on the internet /Courtesy of Laurie Cirivello

Editor's note:  This article comes to you from the creator and founder of The Rapidian, and former Executive Director of the Community Media Center. We consider her the mother of The Rapidian here, and will forever be grateful for creating this platform for our community-and creating it with such lasting strength and possibility. We're honored to have her voice back on our pages to talk to our community about where we've come since the idea first came about.

 

In 2008, media was in full-blown crisis mode. Newspapers were shrinking, journalists were getting laid off in droves and personalized news streams were increasingly isolating us from different perspectives and physical communities. There was a great deal of uncertainty about how local communities would continue to get, organize and share information. 

Having spent my career in public access TV and community radio, I was fascinated with the new opportunities for empowering voices through social platforms and blogging sites. But I also worried about the impact on our physical communities. The digital world has no city limits or town square; no natural intersections where we bump into, hear from and talk with those with whom we share a geographic home. 

So an idea began to unfold. Embrace the digital, but do it with a space that is about, for and most importantly by the people of Grand Rapids. Armed with that basic premise, we gathered academics, neighborhood groups, nonprofits and even traditional local media representatives, and asked “what would it take?” 

The answer was both simple and substantial: give people the tools, the authority and the responsibility to report, share and question all things local using a digital gathering space. Be welcoming. Encourage conversation. Require transparency.

With seed funding from the Community Foundation and the Knight Foundation, The Rapidian went live on September 15, 2009. I have to say, it was one of the most exciting and hopeful days of my community media career.

I envisioned people would look to the site not for breaking news (which will always find its amplifier), but for stories that are smaller, deeper and more authentically representative of our local lives. Rather than provide a new “official” voice, it would offer a framework that encouraged civility and engagement, while not picking and choosing the content. In other words, providing the invitation, and letting the community drive the content and the conversation. To our delight the community responded. Together we changed the way we connect and communicate around the place we live and work.

Since the original launch, community projects and issues have evolved. New voices have joined in. Others have moved on. But the platform still works. The content continues to be relevant to our local lives. The subjects range from the enthusiastic to the contentious. And we continue to be encouraged to engage more deeply in this place we collectively call home. I am not surprised at its staying power, but I admit that I am quietly pleased whenever I read a particularly challenging piece, hear a new voice or when I see the Rapidian quoted, cited or endorsed by others.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t real challenges. The Rapidian will only work as long as the people are willing to step up. We must continue to use the site to collaborate, question assumptions, debate and share stories. We must be vigilant about inviting and welcoming others to the table. And during this fund drive I hope you will join me to ensure The Rapidian’s future by contributing financially as well.

Like the stories that are told and shared, it only works if we do it together. 

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

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