The Rapidian

Why it matters: The power of words and the importance of our stories

We all have stories to tell and information to share: telling our stories well is as important as the information we have to share within them.
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From the Rapidian staff

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I've had several jobs now where, when asked what I do, you might catch me responding like this:

“I help people tell their stories well.”

I love that about my job. It is an honor to be able to help people tell their stories. Our stories are important. They can, as in the past so many stories have, change the world. Before you think your story -your  life and the life of your community- isn’t worth talking about, consider these stories:

This one guy tried three times to get on his city's board of supervisors before suceeding on the fourth try.

This one pastor was jailed over twenty times for standing up for his dreams.

This one woman really liked to fly.

A child, labeled "addled" by his teacher and losing his hearing at age 12, was always asking why.*

Still think your story is insignificant? Maybe we’re just not understanding the importance of our own stories, making it hard to understand how to tell our stories. How we tell our stories -the words we use to describe what is happening- makes a great difference in understanding the importance of what is happening.

I see this as a great opportunity here on The Rapidian. We’re not “cold hard news” reporters. Yes, we report the facts. Yes, we make sure we have sources and we cite them. Yes, we want to present both sides of the story and yes we want to keep our own opinions out of it when we’re not writing opinion pieces.

But.

The fact that we are neighbors telling about our neighborhoods, that we are citizens of a particular city talking about what is happening in our community: this changes how we tell our story. This gives a unique perspective, an inside view, a heart and connection that would be lost otherwise.

Take, for example, Chelsea LaForge’s recent article about the candlelight vigil the night after the Dantzler murders. I worked with Chelsea on this story, and I have to tell you: that is one bright, kind, caring citizen we have writing on our pages. Chelsea went to the vigil wanting to understand how her fellow citizens were feeling, how they were dealing with the shocking news the day prior: the news that had us all glued to police scanners, MLive’s live updates, televisions, and Twitter until late into the night. The whole city, for hours, was all tuned in to one horrific event. How had that changed us? How were we healing? 

Chelsea wanted to tell that story.  When she got there, though, she quickly had a moral compass keep her in check. She didn’t get too close, she didn’t pry with questions too soon to be asking.

She thought she had failed in getting the story.

The truth is, though, that Chelsea-having the understanding as a member of the community that she needed to be sensitive to the people around her- could then create a story with the right tenor and respect appropriate for the moment. Chelsea was able to tell a respectful, kind, quiet story.

And that was the story we needed to hear in that moment.

Every moment has a story that needs to be told. And it might be you that has the right perspective to tell it with the right tenor, the right respect, the right insight. Are you missing your chance to tell a story?

Sure, The Rapidian is one way you can tell your story. And yes, I should probably tell you: if you aren’t a Rapidian reporter already, think about joining us. Come find out what it’s all about if you’re curious.

Most importantly, though, I want to tell you that no matter where you do it, no matter whether you tell stories in photos or videos or in simple, strong, sweet words, the important thing is this: 

 

Tell your stories.

And take the time to tell them well.

 

 

 

*Harvey Milk, Martin Luther King Jr., Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison.

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