The Rapidian

Our place, your voices: A place to start the conversation

My years living in Grand Rapids and getting involved in the community brought me to The Rapidian: first, with photos, then with a chance to help grow the conversations about this place.

/Eric Tank

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The Rapidian is your hyperlocal news source powered by citizen journalism. Everything on The Rapidian is about our place- Grand Rapids, Michigan- and written by your voices. Neighbors keeping neighbors informed about local businesses, events, and issues. 


As an open and welcoming platform for all voices, the Rapidian is truly powered by the people. Please keep the power going with a donation today. This is our place, and these are your voices.


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/Courtesy of Eric Tank

I like Grand Rapids. Really, I do. I’ve been here about thirteen years and most of that time has been spent living between Heritage Hill, Eastown and East Hills.

I like my neighborhood. No. I love my neighborhood. Both my wife and I have been in the neighborhood for about a decade and have owned our home for going on five years now. We’ve seen tremendous changes with the development of Cherry and Wealthy Street corridors. Mostly positive. And I’m happy to have been able to witness and be a part of that change.

When I first came here looking for a job (which I took with Life EMS as an EMT), I didn’t have any preconceptions about Grand Rapids. The city quite simply never crossed my mind. I had no intention to commit to life here other than for employment.

My first impression was a cultural one. In addition to driving ambulance, which quickly oriented me to the streetscape I was also hired as a resident care provider at Pine Rest Christian Homes. It was here, more than anywhere else where I was introduced to an exotic religion called the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). As a Catholic from the upper part of the state on Lake Huron I had never before been exposed to this particular sect of Christianity and it came as an interesting surprise meeting my many co-workers through the years who were students of Calvin College. 

Despite plenty of pejoratives one could use to refer to the conservative mindsets that often are associated with the CRC, I found that the folks I was meeting in Grand Rapids were not that.

In fact I had to reconcile the conservative reputation of Grand Rapids with  the progressive scene of individuals who where doing amazing things through art, civic engagement and social activism. 

As one does I suppose, when married with a child, I took on an ownership kind of attitude about my neighborhood. My place in this city. Our place. A maturity bubbles up inside where once was a place of indifference or worse yet, irreverence- whether intentional or not.

I spend a lot of time in my neighborhood. I walk a lot and meet many neighbors and have neighborly conversations. I’ve made dear friends here. The past five years I’ve immersed myself in the community. Mostly as a photographer documenting it. It started as a hobby- a way for a shy and anxiety ridden (clinically, medicinally and debilitatingly) guy like myself to interact with others, if not merely just looking in from the outside. The Rapidian became an outlet, a resource in which I could post my pictures and possibly have them published online.

The Rapidian for me was first and foremost a photo project, with the theme of "Grand Rapids." It was that simple.

Other than a couple of articles, mainly I contributed pictures for about two years before I had the occasion to work for The Rapidian as an employee of the Community Media Center. I was charged with curaing a new section called Place Matters that dealt with placemaking, urban planning and city building in our community. My role pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to engage with people that I might not otherwise, like nonprofits, entrepreneurial innovators and city leaders.

Not only was I afforded the position to engage with so many outstanding individuals, I was in a unique position to witness the cooperative spirit throughout the Grand Rapids community. From organization like Friends of Grand Rapids Parks who are planting the seeds literally and figuratively for the future urban tree canopy to Avenue for the Arts who are moving the conversation forward on the Division Avenue corridor.

The Rapidian is staffed by only a few. And the job requires that one be passionate about Grand Rapids.

There’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes making sure that what matters to you will get the traffic it deserves. Most of the content on The Rapidian is user contributed.

I don’t think The Rapidian is valued for what it’s worth. Basically any issue one deems important can be written about and there are mentors and staff to help one through the process. In fact, The Rapidian is one of the most successful citizen journalism projects in the country. And it’s right here in Grand Rapids.

The Rapidian is a great resource for local news, what’s happening in public policy, the arts, environmentalism and urban development. Some of the most hotly debated topics nation-wide are dealt with on a local level, bringing the conversation home so to speak and personalizing the contentious social ills of our day.  The Rapidian is a place to start the conversation and foster dialogue about the issues that matter. It’s not just cheerleading for one thing or another. It’s about community, civic pride in a city with a bourgeoning liberal phalanx that is spearheading social abuses and rights policies that derail a healthy and vibrant society.

Grand Rapids is great. But it ain’t perfect. There’s a lot of shit to do in order to change conventional perceptions, as well as realities.

It begins with a conversation.

The Rapidian is a platform where that conversation can be realized. 


During The Rapidian’s online fund drive, we are reminded that this highly valued news source runs on money. The Rapidian needs your help to continue providing content that is important to you. Please give what feels right to you at

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.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

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