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Strengthening community through media

Get to know The Rapidian's new Community Engagement Specialist, Renato Delos Reyes.

/Holly Bechiri

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My name is Renato Delos Reyes, and I wanted to take some time to introduce myself to The Rapidian community, seeing as how I am your new Community Engagement Specialist.

After being raised in a small rural town just outside of Lansing, I moved to the Grand Rapids Area in 2004 to attend college. After graduating from Grand Valley State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Film and Video, I had the opportunity to work on some films and television shows that were being produced in Michigan. 

After saving a bit of money, I decided to return to grad school to pursue my Master of Science in Communications at Grand Valley. Upon my return to Grand Valley, I began to learn more about media ecology and media literacy. These topics seemed to spark something within me, and I soon began to consume as many books and articles on media ecology and media literacy, which lead to my media consulting jobs, prior to working with The Rapidian.

Another big shift in perspective occurred during college. It was during this time that my views on Michigan began to change. As a young child, I often spent a few weeks every year visiting family in Southern California. My distaste for “boring” Michigan grew as I reminisced about how cool Disneyland was, the seemingly endless rows of palm trees, and the beautiful sunny skies.

As soon as I could write, I began to plot my exodus from Michigan. I guess I can’t really pinpoint when exactly I began to embrace Michigan, and specifically Grand Rapids, as my home, but it was almost certainly sometime during the fall.

It is so utterly easy to fall in love with Grand Rapids during autumn: the vibrant colors burst forth from the once green landscape, the bustle of ArtPrize, the ability to exchange pleasantries to complete strangers.

I really began to embrace Grand Rapids as my community and home, even if we don’t have Disneyland, or endless rows of palm trees, or sunny skies all of the time. Instead, I became excited about the revitalization of Grand Rapids and the strength of our community.

There are a lot of reasons why I am excited about working with The Rapidian. My passion for media literacy is a big reason.

It is of the utmost importance for everyone to have access to the tools to understand and engage in media creation. The internet has helped to subvert the paradigm of media producers and media consumers as two separate entities.

Now, there are channels such as The Rapidian that are accessible for media consumers to both produce and consume. In the past, mainstream media producers were the only ones allowed to choose what stories were most important to report on, oftentimes forgetting about what may be important locally.

The Rapidian allows people within our community to report on topics and issues that have immediate importance: news from our community for our community.

As people begin to harness the power of their voice, amplified through The Rapidian, immediate issues and topics can be discussed, new perspectives gained and a stronger community can emerge.

The merging of two of my passions, a strong Grand Rapids community and media literacy, are just two of the reasons why I am excited to work with you all through The Rapidian, and I will do everything in my power to make sure all of your voices are heard.

Our community depends on it.

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.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

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Welcome, Renato! I wish you the best of luck in your new job. You're working with a great group of people so I'm sure it will be fun. 

Thanks a lot, Heidi!

Congratulations Renato...Hoping to meet you at the NightOut for The Rapidian!