The Rapidian

The Rapidian celebrates volunteers with SUPER-latives!

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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.

Jessalyn Richter was awarded the "Woodward and Bernstein" superlative while Jenn Schaub was "Big Mouth Strikes Again."

Jessalyn Richter was awarded the "Woodward and Bernstein" superlative while Jenn Schaub was "Big Mouth Strikes Again."

Wealthy Theatre (left), awarded "Tweet Book" and Boys & Girls Clubs with "Cub Reporter," compare creative tags.

Wealthy Theatre (left), awarded "Tweet Book" and Boys & Girls Clubs with "Cub Reporter," compare creative tags.

From The Rapidian staff: On July 22, we threw our first volunteer bash. Named SUPER-latives!, we wanted to celebrate everyone who had contributed to The Rapidian, from readers to Flickr groupies to contributors to staff.

The event took place on Thursday evening at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. The Rapidian's publisher and mom Laurie Cirivello shared that in her travels and invitations to national conferences, universities and community media centers, she has found many eyes glued to The Rapidian, and it wouldn't be the case without our contributors.

In the spirit of superlatives, staff came up with several awards to recognize our volunteers:

  • Anderson Cooper - Steven Davison, whose motivation for reporting is a fascination with human nature.
  • Big Mouth Strikes Again - Jenn Schaub, who publishes the Word on the Street series. She disseminates her weekly digest of underground goings-on through The Rapidian, a Facebook group and messages, email and every tool available to her.
  • (Celery) Stalker - Lisa Rose Starner, best-known on The Rapidian for her Local Beet series.
  • Crash Test Dummy - Michael Tuffelmire, who has gotten himself into several scrapes reporting on The Rapidian, from crashing while filming the Wednesday Evening Bike Ride to ending up in a tar pit while interviewing a Jimmy John's employee about bike delivery.
  • Hunter S. Thompson - Mark Rumsey, who announced at our first press pit that he was interested in seeing how the social experiment of The Rapidian unfolds. Mark is a bit of a rebel, but if he takes an interest in a topic, that topic is about to be put to task.
  • Ken Burns - Scott Warren, who filmed us in secret during the first press pit he attended. We found out when he posted his second piece to The Rapidian. Since then, Scott has submitted other video pieces and film reviews while also working on a documentary as one of his many side projects.
  • Naked Eye - Jon Clay, who you'll never see without a minimum of 40 pounds of camera equipment. Jon has submitted many photo essays to The Rapidian, including several on the Super Happy Funtime Burlesque troupe. The joke is if there's ever a tasteful erotica publication in town, Jon will be behind the lens.
  • SOURCE Awards - Douglas Dooley, who often reports on hip hop artists in the area but has more recently branched into politics.
  • Studs Terkel - Matt Silverman, who was one of our first reporters to sign up on The Rapidian. Back in September, Matt surprised us all by submitting an audio interview with Jacqueline Gilmore as a response to Chris Apap's opinion criticizing marketing tactics during ArtPrize. We hope to see this sort of reporting catch like wildfire on The Rapidian.
  • Team Mascot - Nick Manes, who is always up for writing an article, attends every Rapidian event he can, talks about The Rapidian's value at public events and has volunteered. At the most recent Rapid Growth Speaker Series event, Nick said something that still sticks in my mind: The Rapidian is a value-added project. It grows with value the more the community contributes to it.
  • Tearful Documentarian - Lindsay McHolme, who writes stories that tug at your heart strings. She explores the intersections between social justice issues, marginalized groups and art.
  • Woodward & Bernstein - Jessalyn Richter, whose pieces have been very thorough and are about issues that have immediate pertinence to every Grand Rapidian. Get ready for the day when The Rapidian can offer reporter RSS feeds: I recommend her as one your first subscriptions.
  • Wrecking Machine - Matthew Altena, who reports on amateur boxing. Matt does the arduous work of covering bouts blow-by-blow. When it came to choosing superlatives, there was no question. Matt Altena: Most likely to get black eye while reporting for The Rapidian.


  • Change of Habit - Dominican Sisters, who have done a great job branding themselves to the public as a social justice organization first and a spiritual organization at a close second.
  • Entertainment Tonight - Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, who submits video interviews with artists and volunteer profiles on a regular basis. Their production is so top-notch, it's something you'd expect to find on a more respectable arts version of Entertainment Tonight. Cue theme music.
  • Feet in First - Avenue for the Arts, and as marketer extraordinaire Roberta King (coincidentally one of our most active reporters) puts it, "It's because they jumped into reporting head first, but because that would be dangerous, she'd have to go feet first."
  • Jimmy Olsen Cub Reporter - Boys and Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, which represents the best of the best for nonprofit reporting. BGCGRYC submits on a semi-weekly basis, and articles are written in news style. Although BGCGRYC covers events going on at various boys and girls clubs locations, staff make sure to obtain quotes and figures. BGCGRYC also covers community goings-on that the organization isn't involved in when staff feel it would be of particular interest to its audience.
  • Quicker Picker Upper - United Way Volunteer Center, a weekly contributor to The Rapidian who is relatively new. United Way Volunteer Center has contacted our staff many times for feedback and is an eager student in the ways of The Rapidian.
  • Tweet Book - Every time Wealthy Theatre submits an article, it instantly becomes the most popular piece on The Rapidian. Its digital prints are plastered all over social media. Wealthy Theatre knows its social media!

The bluster and rain leading up to the evening made for a modest but intimate gathering at GRCF. Rapidian reporter and music junkie Matt Poole put together the playlist for the night.

"All music on the CD is from the '60s to now, and it's all from Grand Rapids or West Michigan," Matt said.

New Media Planner George Wietor shot video of the event, and clips included were mostly of recipients who were present. We plan to compile the leftover clips and include it as an addendum to a previous blog entry about SUPER-latives on The Rapidian's development blog.

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 sorry i missed that one! trying to make a living is really detracting from my real interests in life. i have been sad lately that i haven't been contributing as much as i think i should, and to see this article was a nice ego boost for sure! thanks for the kind thoughts you crazy kids.