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Join us: Storytelling as city-building

The Rapidian is a platform not only for the placemakers, but for the "place shakers." Join me in supporting The Rapidian during their spring fund drive that runs through this weekend.
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Discussion with Salon members about city building

Discussion with Salon members about city building /courtesy of Josh Leffingwell

In the city-building world, we call people who create places "place makers." In this placemaker category you have urban planners, developers and architects - the people who make the things that create a sense of place.

However, cities are large, and we don't actually have that many "place makers." So, as organizers, we have to empower our everyday citizens to help. The Placemakers website called these empowered citizens place shakers. These people may not have urban design experience, but they truly hold the most power when it comes to creating a place.

These are the people who pick up trash on the street or put benches by bus stops or plant flowers in public space. These empowered citizens are the ones who have the ability to truly transform the spaces that place makers want to build. These people are neighbors and community members that hold no agenda other than wanting to make the place they live better. They understand the space and context of their place better than any planner or developer.

These people are changing our cities.

The same is true for citizen journalism. We have journalist in our community, and we value what they offer.

These are the people who write, photograph and take video for our publications around town. What they do is incredibly valuable, but they can only do a small portion of what needs to be done in the community. There are stories out there that need to be told and our city's journalists don't have the time or understanding to tell them.

This is why our city needs people to come out and tell those stories. We need neighbors and community members with no agenda, other than wanting to make their place better - to tell the stories that others news outlets aren't telling. Or if there is a big story that the news media is not telling correctly, we need people in the community to tell that story how it should be told.

The first Rapidian story I read was from Michael Tuffelmire, when he lived as a homeless person for three nights. The honesty in the reporting and understanding in the writing was something I had never seen in local journalism. It was something that no other news source would have reported on but it was a story that shaped my views on homelessness.

It was one empowered citizen that had a story to tell about our city, and, in telling it, created a much larger conversation. He isn't a reporter or journalist, he is a neighbor and a friend- and it's stories like these that are changing our cities.

This is the unique opportunity the Rapidian offers: the ability to bring inspiring stories to the surface and uncover stories that might never get covered.

The Rapidian website is just platform- it's not the action but it's the tool to empower the action. Without that platform our collective voices would be dispersed.

One bench by a bus stop is nice, and it's a place to sit, but when that one bench inspires others to put a bench at their bus stop our actions are seen, or, as is the case with journalism, our voices are heard.

As someone who is constantly inspired by the change that empowered citizens can create, I proudly support the Rapidian.

Join me now. Make a donation today during The Rapidian's 2013 fund drive.

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