The Rapidian

First Rapidian bureau hosted by Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities to launch in January

The Rapidian, a service of the Community Media Center, is partnering with Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities to install a news bureau in the southwest quadrant of Grand Rapids.
An art workshop at the Cook Library Center.

An art workshop at the Cook Library Center. /Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities

Underwriting support from:

About Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center

"The way that we've been doing our creative story writing workshops is there are three leaders of the class. There's myself [Slager] who is asking questions and directing their ideas. There's a typist who is actually typing what they're saying into the story format, and that's projected on the wall so the students can then read it, go over it and edit it. And then there's an illustrator as well … she's just basically drawing what they're talking about as they're coming up with the ideas.

"So at the end of the class, they go home with a finished product. They have the story in book form, it's illustrated and it has all of their names on it. They're published authors."

 

You can learn more about GAAH's programmatic area, GRCYC by listening to their Catalyst Radio interview.

Local artist Rebecca Green illustrates publications from GRCYC's creative writing workshops.

Local artist Rebecca Green illustrates publications from GRCYC's creative writing workshops. /Denise Cheng

The Rapidian, a service of the Community Media Center, is partnering with Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities to install a news bureau in the southwest quadrant of Grand Rapids.

The Rapidian is a web-based, community driven journalism project that features user-generated news content about Grand Rapids.

"As we gear up for year two, we've returned to the roots and original name of our project: Neighborhood news bureaus," said CMC executive director Laurie Cirivello in a call for proposals. "The Rapidian is now accepting proposals from community-based organizations and venues that wish to deploy media tools and resources to help their friends, clients, neighbors and constituents better engage in community communications."

The partnership is an 18-month pilot in which the CMC provides equipment—audio recorders, Flip cams, still cameras, netbooks equipped with wi-fi and a desktop computer—a stipend, potential site alterations to accommodate content, and training for the trainers who will lead the bureau.

"How can citizen journalism tools, training and support help your organization achieve its mission, empower the communities you target and amplify the voices of those you serve?" the RFP asked.

The Rapidian will seed four bureaus and is accepting rolling applications from nonprofits and community-based organizations. GAAH was selected from 12 first-round applicants.

GAAH serves residents in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood through arts and reading and is best known for administering the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center. GAAH has an emphasis on youth and has partnered with the Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center to execute its bureau.

"I see it as a wonderful opportunity for children in our neighborhood not only to develop their writing, their photography, their artistic skills in a lot of ways but as possibly a venue for a career opportunity," said Marjorie Kuipers, executive director of GAAH. "Some of these kids might really discover that they love journalism in its various shapes and forms, and it could really open some cool doors for them."

Since late 2009, GAAH has been working with GRCYC to offer area youth the opportunity to engage in storytelling through collaboration, and every participant has walked away with a bound story complete with illustrations.

"GRCYC believes making students published authors gives a tangible credibility to their accomplishments," GAAH said in their application. "Presenting students' work in a local retail environment creates a community-wide recognition and participation in our young writers' creative process."

The first after-school class to benefit from the partnership will begin in January 2011. Preparations are underway to equip the GAAH bureau with necessary tools and training to create an imaginative and tailored program.

"They're always impressed with their own work at the end and it gets them excited to create more," said Lorena Slager of GRCYC, who will instruct the first class and suggest field trip reviews and art critiques to start.

GAAH intends to open up the bureau to the local adult population after the youth program gets off the ground successfully.

"I really hope this program will expand in the next few years to the adult population who might not be able to read and write but who have a story to tell maybe through audio means, maybe through video means," Kuipers said. "We just want people in the neighborhood to recognize this neighborhood news bureau and The Rapidian as a voice for them."

The Rapidian continues to accept proposals for potential bureaus in the city of Grand Rapids.

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.

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