News at the ground level! The Rapidian is all about our community!
April 16th, 2012
My dad was an editor extraordinaire. He was a valued employee at The Detroit News for more than 45 years starting as a carrier and climbing the ladder to become the highly regarded Sports Editor retiring in 1979. His words of wisdom over the years still ring in my ears as he valued good writing and knew that the role of an editor was to make good stories even better! (He would say, "Win is NOT a noun! I wish headline writers would stop using that word as if it was!")
With this as my personal backdrop, I listened to Roberta King, this Community Foundation's Vice-President for PR and Marketing, as she made the case for submitting a proposal to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of an initiative involving community foundations across the country entitled the Community Information Challenge a few years back providing an incentive for local level communications.
My initial reaction was - "so what impact will this really make and don't we have enough on our plates already?" If anyone knows Roberta, you know that this is more of an invitation to create the best and not be deterred by a boss that may not quite "get it" thank heavens!
Enter Laurie Cirivello the president of Grand Rapids Community Media Center. She has been a tremendous asset to the greater Grand Rapids area continuing to implement the broad vision of the late Dirk Koning. Roberta knew that if anyone could help design an effort, that Laurie was the just the person to do so. Many design meetings were held in our conference room, ideas galore were generated landing on the plan that ultimately birthed The Rapidian. The Knight Foundation agreed that this idea had legs and gave us a grant!
From the beginning, the community participated in growing the idea into reality. As Holly Bechiri, The Rapidian's Managing Editor notes: "Beginning April 16th, an Education Week will kick off [a] fund drive as we learn more about why we as a community need to embrace and support the news coming from our own citizens. Partnering rather than competing with local media outlets, The Rapidian instead gives citizens the opportunity to be involved with the changing landscape of media."
Encouraging people at the neighborhood level to provide their take on issues facing our community and new opportunities for growth, The Rapidian has grown in importance in the past two and a half years. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation also proudly provided seed funding to bring this idea to fruition.
Now it's time to provide the opportunity for our community to financially support this on the ground, hyperlocal news source! A great development actually - a move for sustainability. While this blog isn't usually a place that reaches out to ask for financial support for the many worthwhile causes in our area, I am making an exception and asking for your consideration to support The Rapidian powered by the Community Media Center. "Join me in supporting The Rapidian: the hyperlocal news source powered by the people of Grand Rapids!" Visit The Rapidian website to learn more about this fund drive and the great services being provided! http://therapidian.org
Creating the Conversation
August 24th, 2009Striving for transparency in all that we do is a discussion we have at the Foundation often. What are the factors involved when grant decisions are made? Who is making those decisions? How do we decide what issues to pursue? What role does the Board of Trustees play?
At first I was going to write about a conversation I had this past Saturday on Facebook regarding the decision to help Rob Bliss in the financing of his latest event* to take place in late September. The person with whom I was conversing questioned that decision. This is not a problem frankly as this comes with the territory as a leader of a major Foundation. My question back to the individual had more to do with being transparent as to why the question was being posed than discussing the background on the decision. But that passed and while the decision still may not set well with that person, creating the opportunity to have the conversation was good! Transparency is two-way.
Then I received a message that referenced negative blog entries and commentary about the planned event and our funding. The message bearer was stating that in truth more people were supportive than not and was passing along his support. I went back to local media sites and references to the announcement of the September event. The reaction was mostly positive. However some comments did get personal in terms of me and in terms of the Foundation. Again this comes with the position so I don't really get exercised about it.
In fact, I was heartened by the fact that Roberta King our VP for PR and Marketing told me that when The Rapidian, our Neighborhood News Bureau partnership with the Community Media Center, is launched on Tuesday, September 15th that all who comment on stories will not be given the choice to hide behind a moniker. I believe if you are going to express an opinion then stand behind your opinion with your true identity so a conversation can occur if necessary like I was able to on Facebook.
*The decision re: the aforementioned event is a small part of a bigger effort that is coming up in a few weeks.