The Rapidian

Welcoming new partnerships on The Rapidian's second birthday

As the Rapidian turns two, we welcome the business community, unveil new features and invite reader support to help sustain the momentum.
Underwriting support from:

New look for The Rapidian

  • New Features
  • Local Marketplace
  • New Community Calendar
  • and More!

This week, on the occasion of The Rapidian’s 2nd birthday (Thursday, September 15th), we are excited to unveil new site updates and welcome new supporters to the project. Thanks to the seed funding generously provided by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Slemmons Fund, we have been able to build a local news and information site that has proven popular and, we believe, valuable to the community.

As I have often mentioned in this column, the next challenge is to sustain the project. This quest is a very common puzzle for community news outlets of all sizes. Hand in hand with individuals and the local business community, we are ready and excited to take on the challenge.

When we unveil the updated Rapidian site on Thursday, you will see new sections, updated graphics and more. You will also find an exciting new feature…The Local Marketplace. Here we have created an innovative space where local businesses can connect with fans and friends of the Rapidian, provide support so the project can continue, and at the same time, help us all “shop local.” 

We have worked hard to design a marketplace that both aesthetically and functionally enhances the Rapidian for visitors, rather than detract. The most innovative part is that we have designed technology that will allow each advertiser to update their ad anytime…day or night. Last minute tickets available? Update. A Tuesday “special of the day?” Update. New shipment of snow shovels? Update. Nonprofit organizations can also use the marketplace for things like promoting a special event or providing important information. We’re excited to offer such a dynamic platform that can benefit both businesses and local residents.

It takes a community to nurture and grow this type of project. We couldn’t have launched the site without seed funding, and we couldn’t have designed this new marketplace without help. We want to extend our sincere thanks to Amway for providing support needed to create the new Local Marketplace.  Additionally, Amway is underwriting the new “Innovation Spotlight” business reporting section that will accompany the Marketplace and be part of our regular content. The intent is to feature the stories of local entrepreneurs who are innovating and taking risks to grow our West Michigan economy, one business at a time.

Finally, we invite you to support this project as well. The Rapidian is a project of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, a nonprofit organization committed to “building community through media.” By contributing to this project, you can help us create new neighborhood news bureaus and provide equipment and training to more citizen reporters. 

The Rapidian’s new look, complete with the Local Marketplace, is launching at our Birthday Party at Wealthy Theatre, complete with the unveiling and birthday cake! You might even consider joining in as a reporter.

Please be sure and thank the businesses that support community news and information by visiting the new Local Marketplace on the Rapidian.

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.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

Comments

I'm disappointed to hear that The Rapidian has chosen Amway as an underwriter. There are lots of different local companies that you could have gone with, but Amway has to be one of the worst choices around.

Amway is a company that most people outside of West Michigan recognize as a pyramid scheme. Even here, I'd say a good number of people--potentially many within The Rapidian's readership--have legitimate criticisms of Amway. Whether it's their contributions to the Republican Party (including the largest single cash contribution ever -- $1 million dollars back in 1997) or their support for rightwing causes (anti-gay organizations for example), the DeVos and VanAndel families have a history of questionable "philanthrophy." Moreover, it isn't hard to see how their support of a feature highlighting local entreuprenuers would fit into that same pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps ideology that motivates their contributions to extreme free-market organizations like the Mackinac Center and the Heritage Foundation.

 

I am sensitive to, and appreciate you providing your POV on this. As an organization, CMC (and therefore the Rapidian) works to be a neutral connector in our local community and is supported by many different donors, businesses and foundations.  Welcoming organizations and individuals with differing (and often opposing) ideologies has been at the core of our committed (and oft times contentious) defense of free speech. Our common denominator for content on the Rapidian has never been ideology, but content related to and crafted by, our Greater Grand Rapids community. Likewise, our common denominator for sponsors and advertisers in the new marketplace adheres to the Local First definition of "locally owned" and "privately held" companies. We remain committed to providing a platform for diverse views, civil debate and a wide range of supporters.

Great news, Laurie. Thank you, Amway, for chosing The Rapidian to underwrite. Amway is local and innovative...a good fit for supporting the "innovation spotlight". It is the CMC's diversity and willingness to facilitate that diversity of community involvement that gives us credibility as an independent voice.

Steve,

Why is it a "legitimate criticism" of an organization that it chose to support a particular political party? I think this is an especially important question in the context of the open speech and expression one hopes exists in national politics and local dialogue of the sort The Rapidian seeks to facilitate.

Can you explain further your "legitimate criticism" of "a feature highlighting local entrepreneurs"? Whether local entrepreneurs endorse the ideology you criticize or another one, aren't their stories worth telling, as a matter of hyperlocal citizen journalism? The Rapidian has had articles in the past highlighting local businesses. They didn't have anything to do with politics, and the ones I read had everything to do with folks sharing their skills and passions with the community.

Finally, doesn't Amway's support of The Rapidian mean something? That a multinational corporation would find fit to support a project like The Rapidian is pretty neat, and it strikes me as a positive reflection on Amway, as it is for The Rapidian's other investors. Nothing in Laurie's article said that Amway would be controlling the content of the section, but even if they did, isn't their voice just as valid as yours?

This is an exciting week for The Rapidian and for free expression in Grand Rapids. My hope is that people will continue to recognize that open dialogue really is more about listening than speaking, and that the participation and engagement of differing voices is a sign of success and not of failure.

Just to clarify, Amway is supporting the presence of local business/innovation reporting. The Rapidian assigns, produces and is solely responsible for the content of this section.

 

Steve,

 

I work for a local non-profit that provides reading and ESL instruction to adults.  Without funding from businesses like Amway, we wouldn’t have the capacity to serve our community in the way that we do.  I am guessing the same is true for The Rapidian, especially during a time of recession and vast unemployment.  The Rapidian has proven its value to our community, giving residents, local non-profits and schools an outlet to voice their opinions and share their stories--which, as Laurie said, will continue to be the case even as Amway supports “the presence of local business/innovation reporting”.  

 

As a seasoned Reporter and Editorial Mentor for The Rapidian, I am looking forward to the unveiling of the new format, the Marketplace, and the Innovation Spotlight.  

 

Laurie,

 

I have one question: Will the Marketplace be open to highlighting non-profit organizations?

The marketplace will provide advertising and promotional opportunities for both local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Of course, nonprofits will continue to be welcome to report and promote their news via the "nonprofit neighbors" section, as well.

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