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Meet civic investor Roberta King: Investing in passion

Rapidian citizen reporter and civic investor, Roberta King, shares her involvement with The Rapidian and her investment in the Grand Rapids community.
Roberta King

Roberta King /Eric Tank

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Since its conception in 2009, The Rapidian has come to be "one of the boys" when it comes to local media. Civic investor Roberta King was a part of its launching process and remembers the early days fondly.

"There were a lot of people involved in the structure of The Rapidian and making it happen," says King. "I met Laurie [Cirivello] when she first came to the Grand Rapids Community Media Center."

 Shortly after the two met, Cirivello, the former Grand Rapids Community Media Center Executive Director, asked King to assist her with launching and creating The Rapidian.

"She was just looking for a good partner to start it and felt Grand Rapids Community Foundation was just that. So we started the project together," says King. The Community Foundation stepped in with a matching grant to the Knight Foundation's grant to help fund the project- and The Rapidian was born.

"I wanted to be involved because I felt the idea- the concept- was very different. The Rapidian was, and continues to be, a very innovative platform," says King about the news source. "I like that there is a voice for everyone."

King currently sits as the Vice President of Public Relations & Marketing at Grand Rapids Community Foundation, where she is able to witness a lot of the civic progress in the community.

"What gets me up every morning is knowing I'm doing good things in our community," says King. "I like knowing I'm helping individuals through our donors and grantees. It's exciting to see people with wealth do good things and nonprofits make good use of grant money."

Community, to King, is more than neighborhoods, parks or physical structures. To her, community is about "personal connections." Whether these connections occur in a running group, a book club or even virtually, community is "just where people make connections with one another."

"I think The Rapidian is a great way for individuals in our community to get involved," says King. "Even if you're not a writer, you can shoot and share photos, make videos or even get involved as a volunteer." Getting involved, King shares, is more about discovering your passion and giving of yourself for that passion.

Throughout the past five years and a few published pieces, King was able to share her passion on The Rapidian and write about her deceased son Noah Miesch.

"I didn’t set out to write a book," King writes on her website. "I just wanted to mark the fifth anniversary of Noah’s death with a piece of memorable writing. Thanks to The Rapidian, I had a place to publish it and the waves were set in motion. Readers reacted to the essay with encouragement and strong emotion and that’s pretty much all an author needs." This May, King will host a release party for her book He Plays a Harp, a memoir about the life, illness and death of her son.

"I really can't imagine Grand Rapids without The Rapidian," says King. "It really has become a part of the media fabric of the city. It has a certain amount of respect and creditability. I mean, the fact that it's still here after five years and it's chugging along is a testament to the people involved, the supporters and the reporters."

Five years of collaborating, communicating and sharing voices has made The Rapidian a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to the commitment and investment of King, "The Rapidian is the voice for all of us."

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