From The Rapidian staff
Each week, a Rapidian staffer will publish a piece related to goings-on at The Rapidian, developments in the world of citizen journalism and tips for making the most of the site. Click here for past editorials.
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From The Rapidian staff: Last week, we were invited to set up shop at AimWest's social media confabulation, an annual conference in its second iteration that's spilling out of the gills with GR's social media savviest (read: marketers).
The Rapidian is scrappy. We have limited resources, we have equipment - standard point-and-shoots and cheap recorders. We're a DIY outfit; want more coverage or analysis of something happening in your backyard? When it comes to The Rapidian, you're the only gatekeeper to that news. Staff and editorial volunteers are here to arm you with pedestrian tools and mentorship to take advantage of this community information platform.
So when Laurie asked me to assemble our reporter packs (a set consisting of a Flip cam, audio recorder and still digicam) for AimWest, I realized for the first time that we didn't even have reporter pack-ets. With just a few days to spare, I set out to put together a prototype of what we should be giving to every reporter: A collection of reporter business cards, a brochure that puts us in the context of the Community Media Center's aims and services and most importantly, a manual that explains the process new reporters go through as well as tips from fellow reporters, a publishing checklist and a quick-and-dirty style guide.
Out came the hodgepodge of tools, ranging from professional layout software to repurposed graph paper, sketch pads and a makeshift cutting pad out of a Gordon Food Service box. A total of eight hours later, we had prototypes of our first reporters' packet.
- Reporter business cards
- CMC brochure
- Reporter's manual
- Explanation of The Rapidian and the CMC
- Explanation of the new reporter process
- Services, resources and tools that we offer at The Rapidian hub
- Tips from other reporters
- The beginnings of a Rapidian style guide
Nothing fancy and all things we already had on hand. It was, however, the first time we'd ever put those things togehter in a packable kit.
But here's where I got really excited: The craftiness! It was the perfect project going into winter. As I did some mental calesthenics around how we'd put together a stylish folder on the cheap, I wondered if this was another way to plug in all that artistic talent in our community.
Up till now, we've only been able to funnel interested volunteers into the editorial process. Not everyone wants (or even needs) to contribute to The Rapidian this way, and we've had very few avenues for leveraging the excitement and community talent around The Rapidian.
If you go to The Division Avenue Arts Collective, their manifesto hangs off the back of their door. Fourth point down: "We support the transition from a 'Do It Yourself' (DIY) attitude to a 'Do It Together' (DIT) community."
Can we take a cue from that manifesto? I've long imagined an army of crafters and designers who'd apply guerrilla marketing tactics, who'd take the best of Grand Rapids design-and-make sense and use it to the advantage of a citizen powered platform. After all, we're a publicly programmed platform. We're neighbors supporting neighbors, so how much of a stretch is it really to all apply our talents to increase the flow of community information and dialogue?
We have 400 contributors. We have 1,300 registered users. Many more read The Rapidian. So here's the question we've not asked enough, especially to you artsy, crafty wonders out there: How can we come together in a confluence of talent, energy, and bonhomie to enhance this community resource? What would a Rapidian crafting session look like?
Former citizen journalism coordinator for The Rapidian. Bicycle commuter, experimental cook, aspiring athlete, wannabe programmer, infrequent pianist, language lover, tupperware fanatic and tea junkie. A proud Midtownie but a West Coast girl at heart.
Reports on: Tech, Midtown neighborhood, anything that catches my fancy, &c.